Online discrimination in Croatia: The case of the ‘serial hugger’ Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

Marijana Grbeša, Nichola D. Gutgold, Domagoj Bebić

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In light of growing research on online misogyny and sexism, this study investi-gates the online discrimination faced by the first woman president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who served from 2015 to 2020. Specifically, it exam-ines the Facebook communication of the three leading Croatian news sites, as well as related readers’ comments, pertaining to two events that got excessive media coverage: Grabar-Kitarović’s appearance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and an educational video of the President reading Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking to Croatian children in Sweden. In both cases, Grabar-Kitarović ventured beyond the safety of political discourse and entered what is often seen as a »slippery« territory for women politicians-a space of emotions and celebrity politics. An analysis of the media content established that the analyzed media outlets resorted to ridicule, sexism, and insults to report about Grabar-Kitarović on both occasions. A content analysis of related readers’ comments showed that she was the target of sexist discrimination and aggressive, even violent insults. However, discrimination was overall less present in the readers’ comments than in the media texts. Readers were generally less critical and more appreciative towards Grabar-Kitarović’s display of spontaneity and emotions than the media. This suggests that the informal setting of social media discussions may provide a less hostile environment for women to display their femininity, emotions and private persona compared to traditional media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-92
Number of pages20
JournalNova Prisutnost
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy

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