‘A (Sensitive New Age Guy) with difference’

Gendered performances in online personal advertisements


  • Kesumawati A. Bakar Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. University of Sydney, Australia




Femininity, Masculinity, Systemic Functional Linguistics, attitude, Social Actor Categorization


This paper explores the representations of gender identities in the discourse of 200 online personal advertisements by Malaysian men and women. Using a combination of discourse analytical tools and corpus linguistic techniques this study demonstrates the construal of identity as a complex interaction of identity categorization and attitudinal resources. I-statements and nominal groups (Halliday, 1994; Halliday and Mattheissen, 2004) form my points of entry and linguistic patterns are semantically classified according to attitude (Martin and White, 2005) and Social Actor categorization (Van Leeuwen, 1996, 2008). General patterns construing typical and atypical representations of gender identities were observed by comparing the types of structure, semantics and collocates the data revealed. Results showed that advertisers appear to orient to what is expected in the context of courtship initiation in this particular genre, and are found to produce socially specific verbal practices that correspond to what is sought by men and women in general – e.g. ‘the slim and attractive woman’ and ‘the successful man’. Additionally, findings are also found to challenge hegemonic gender practices, construing counter-stereotypes such as ‘the sensitive man’. More significant however, is the construal of a Malaysian identity type – i.e. ‘the simple person’ – that cuts across gender lines.

Author Biography

  • Kesumawati A. Bakar, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. University of Sydney, Australia

    Kesumawati A. Bakar is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, at the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi 43600, Selangor.


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How to Cite

Bakar, K. (2014). ‘A (Sensitive New Age Guy) with difference’: Gendered performances in online personal advertisements. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 9(1), 5-34. https://doi.org/10.1558/lhs.v9i1.5