Gender and Language, Vol 13, No 1 (2019)

Les Hommen: the language of reactionary masculinity

Eric Louis Russell
Issued Date: 8 Apr 2019


This article examines the lexico-grammatical and lexico-pragmatic patterns of a social media corpus authored by les Hommen, a populist group of young French males who protested the enactment of same-sex marriage and parenting laws in late 2012 and early 2013. Through the close description of linguistic data and its interpolation via abstract discursive constructs of positioning and framing, it is argued that these praxes are not merely homophobic, but are also projections of reactive masculinity (i.e. a backlash against the perceived erosion of male hegemony triggered by the loi Taubira and its consequences). The article uses traditional and functional grammatical approaches to advance a view of the Hommen's cognitive context, manifest though linguistic performance, whereby the French male is projected as a simultaneous victim of and reactionary force against - in their view - an undemocratic administration, and sectarian LGBT and feminist activists.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/genl.31061


Baruch, M. O. (2013) Gay marriage and the limits of French liberalism. Dissent Fall: 24–8.

Béraud, C. (2014) Un front commun des religions contre le mariage pour tous? Contemporary French Civilization 39(3): 335–349.

Borrillo, D. (2009) La vérité biologique contre l’homoparentalité: le statut du beau-parent ou le ‘PaCS de la filiation’. Droit et Société 72: 361–71.

Bourdieu, P. (1990) La domination masculine. Actes de recherche en sciences sociales 84: 2–31.

BVA (2012) Les Français favorables à ce que les homosexuels puissent se marier et adopter. Retrieved 28 February 2019 from

Davies, B. and Harré, R. (1990) Positioning: the discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 20(1): 44–63.

Delahaie, Y. (2015) Mariage pour tous vs. Manif pour tous. Paris: Golias.

Eggins, S. (2004) An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. New York: Continuum.

Fairclough, N. (1992) Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fairclough, N. and Fairclough, I. (1999) Political Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge.

Fairclough, N. and Wodak, R. (1997) Critical discourse analysis. In T. van Dijk (ed.) Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, Volume 2: Discourse as Social Interaction 258–84. London: Sage.

Fassin, E. (2009) Entre famille et nation: la filiation naturalisée. Droit et Société 72: 373–82.

Fassin, E. (2014) Same-sex marriage, nation, and race: French political logics and rhetorics. Contemporary French Civilization 39(3): 281–301.

Fowler, R. (1985) Power. In T. van Dijk (ed.) The Handbook of Discourse Analysis 61–84. London: Academic Press.

Goffman, E. (1974) Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. London: Harper & Row.

Gunther, S. (2009) The Elastic Closet: A History of Homosexuality in France, 1942-present. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiessen, C. (2004) Introduction to Functional Grammar (4th edition). London: Routledge.

Lambrecht, K. (1994) Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus, and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Levinson, S. C. (2006) Deixis. In L. R. Horn and G. L. Ward (eds) The Handbook of Pragmatics 97–120. London: Blackwell.

Lillian, D. L. (2005) Homophobic discourse: a ‘popular’ Canadian example. SKY Journal of Linguistics 18: 119–44.

Lillian, D. L. (2007) A thorn by any other name: sexist discourse as hate speech. Discourse and Society 18(6): 719–40.

Paternotte, D. (2008) Les lieux d’activisme: le ‘mariage gai’ en Belgique, en France et en Espagne. Canadian Journal of Political Science 41(4): 935–52.

Paternotte, D. (2012) La juridification ou le droit comme matrice de l’action collective: la revendication du droit de mariage entre personne du même sexe. Politique et Sociétés 31(2): 93–112.

Peterson, D. (2010) The ‘basis for a just, free, and stable society’: institutional homophobia and governance at the Family Research Council. Gender and Language 4(2): 257–86.

Peterson, D. (2011) Neoliberal homophobic discourse: heteronormative human capital and the exclusion of queer citizens. Journal of Homosexuality 58(6–7): 742–57.

Peterson, D. (2016) Homophobic grammar: the role of transitivity and phoricity in homophobic formation. Journal of Language and Sexuality 5(1): 61–93.

Seals, C. (2012) When a ‘non-issue’ becomes an issue in discourse surrounding LGBT communities. Journal of Language and Sexuality 1(2): 230–55.

Simpson, P. (1993) Language, Ideology and Point of View. London: Routledge.

Stychin, C. F. (2001) Civil solidarity of fragmented identities? The politics of sexuality and citizenship in France. Social and Legal Studies 10(3): 347–75.

Sykes, M. (1985) Discrimination in discourse. In T. van Dijk (ed.) The Handbook of Discourse Analysis 83–102. London: Academic Press.

Van der Bom, I, Coffey-Glover, L., Jones, L., Mills, S. and Paterson, L. (2015) Implicit homophobic argument structure: equal-marriage discourse in The Moral Maze. Journal of Language and Sexuality 4(1): 102–37.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2006) Discourse, context and cognition. Discourse Studies 8(1): 159–77.

Wodak, R. (2006) Mediation between discourse and society: assessing cognitive approaches in CDA. Discourse Studies 8(1): 179–90.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy