Remote Female Fixation—A Grounded Theory on Semi-Illegal Sharing of Nude Imagery Online

  • Hilde Otteren
  • Astrid Gynnild University of Bergen
Keywords: grounded theory methodology, networked community, non-consensual nude image sharing, digital sexual abuse, gameplay, patterns of behavior, digital media


In this article, we present the classic grounded theory of remote female fixation, which provides new knowledge on the illegal sharing of sexualized images of young girls in networked communities on the internet. This sharing occurs without consent and usually without the girls even knowing about it. In the study, we identified the main concern and action strategies of the anonymous users of a large online forum for the sharing of nude images. The data were gathered from 20 different online comment sections of the Norwegian branch of a global, anonymous community with a reputation for extensive sharing of nude images of young women. By carefully analyzing the data, we found that the forum's users had an ongoing need to master their own female fixations, which they satisfied through the process of remote female fixation. In this process, forum users engaged in the following four interdependent strategies: continuous competition, loyalty-based inclusion, irregular rewarding, and tactical negotiation. By identifying the forum users' shared concern, this theory may help explain the increasing presence of sexual abuse in digital environments.


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Author Biographies

Hilde Otteren

Hilde OTTEREN works as a teacher, and has previous experience as a research assistant at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway. She obtained a master's degree in media studies in 2019 with a thesis on the sharing of visuals in online counterpublics, in which she applied grounded theory methodology.

Astrid Gynnild, University of Bergen

Astrid GYNNILD is professor of media studies and head of the Journalism Research Group at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway. She was the principal investigator of the ViSmedia project and a former editor of the Grounded Theory Review. She also co-authored the edited collection "Grounded Theory: The Philosophy, Method and Work of Barney Glaser" (BrownWalker Press, 2011). Her current research interests include visual technologies, innovation, and surveillance in the news media.