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Abstract

Virtual environments provide a rich testing ground for theories of gender and language. This paper analyzes interactions in one virtual environment, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), to look at the extent to which research on face-to-face (FTF) talk and computer-mediated communication (CMC) can describe gender and its relationship to language. I find that neither the function of utterances nor the construction of gender adheres to dualistic descriptions, as past research has implied. Reconceptualizing gender as performative helps researchers break out of binary categories that have bound past research. Conceiving of gender as under constant construction also helps demystify and thus disrupt the binary gender system which naturalizes patriarchy.