Investigating Rape Culture in the Philippines through #HijaAko: Towards a Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis

Author Information

Aileen C. Bautista,
De La Salle University, the Philippines

DOI: 10.47298/cala2022.4-2
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in Asia 2022


Rape culture is a form of violence against women. One factor influencing the continuing predominance of this rape culture, in a range of global contexts, is the fact that societies in these contexts tolerate and, to an extent, normalize such sexual violence. This normalizing occurs ubiquitously, and not least through online technologies, such as with netizens. Yet, these netizens also influence conceptions of a just world. The belief in a just world appears to operate through the views of netizens toward victims of sexual abuse, as reflected in social media platforms. One example of this activism is the hashtag #HijaAko, which, as with many other hashtags, is being appropriated by netizens used to strengthen online anti-rape movements. These hashtags can be global and local, where many focus on the locality of #MeToo hashtags, largely owing to identification with place and space, and the cultural memory of such violence within respective physical communities.

This study explores the rape culture landscape as reflected in online discourse, specifically on the Twitter platform. Drawing on Dalbert’s (2009) ‘Belief in the Just World’ hypothesis, and on work in critical technocultural discourse scholarship, in this paper, I argue that the localized #MeToo hashtag, #HijaAko, has provided and has constituted a techno weapon for victims of sexual violence such as rape, to retaliate against the existing predominant rape culture in the Philippines. The #MeToo hashtag, #HijaAko purports to create an online shared community that itself aims at the restoration of online justice that has seemingly failed to appear and succeed through other legitimate means, such as through the legal system. A general consensual confirmation by the netizens who have become active in this movement provides the victims with a sense of ‘virtual justice’ in several ways, and including the use of ‘receipts’ as weapons. Through a multimodal discourse analysis examining 340 tweets, I present data and its analysis, to reveal that Philippine society capitalizes on victim-blaming as the core advocates and perpetrators of the local rape culture.

Keywords: Technocultural discourse analysis, rape culture, #HijaAko hashtag, #MeToo hashtag, the Philippines, linguistic anthropology


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