Book

#MeToo, Weinstein and Feminism

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Abstract

“In a moment when scholars and activists are wrestling with the cultural and political impact of #MeToo, Boyle carefully parses the differences between a ‘moment’ and a movement, and importantly reminds us to think beyond the hashtag to consider history, political contradictions, and the limits of media visibility.” ̶ Prof Sarah Banet-Weiser, LSE, Author Empowered: Popular Feminism & Popular Misogyny (2018) “Karen Boyle shows us how mainstream media coverage of the #MeToo moment re-focused our attention away from violence towards women, towards the interests of men: men’s right to sexual freedoms, and their right to have jokes and ‘banter’. Her profound analysis asks us to reflect on the fundamental question: why do our media narratives STILL not ask why men rape?” ̶ Prof Heather Savigny, Professor of Gender, Media and Politics at De Montfort “Professor Boyle writes that she hopes to demonstrate how those in media studies might reintegrate and learn from feminist activism and interdisciplinary scholarship on men’s violence against women. She can be congratulated in achieving this - providing an exemplary text demonstrating the crucial role of feminist media scholars in advancing theoretical and practical knowledge on pressing social problems.” ̶ Prof Nicole Westmarland, Director, Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse. This book provides a feminist analysis of #MeToo and the sexual assault allegations against celebrity perpetrators which have emerged since Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story in October 2017. It argues for the importance of understanding #MeToo in relation to a longer, and on-going, history of Anglo-American feminist activism, theory and interdisciplinary research on men’s violence against women. The introduction argues for the importance of distinguishing between #MeToo as a hashtag and a movement. Chapter 2 investigates how speaking out about rape, sexual assault and harassment on social media can be understood in relation to second-wave feminist traditions of consciousness-raising, and concludes with an analysis of how feminism – and feminists – have featured in mainstream media coverage of the Weinstein case. Chapter 3 uses Liz Kelly’s (1988) theorisation of the continuum of sexual violence to discuss how feminists understand connections between different forms of male violence against women and explores the challenges of translating feminist theory into media commentary. Chapter 4, The cultural value of abuse, examines that the cultural values associated with men’s abuse with an emphasis on the film and television industries. The book concludes with an exploration of what the #MeToo era has meant for men, focusing first on men as victim/survivors, before moving on to consider how alleged perpetrators are situated in relation to narratives of victimisation and of monstrosity. Karen Boyle (@ProfKarenBoyle) is Professor of Feminist Media Studies and Programme Director for Applied Gender Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. Karen is the author of Media and Violence: Gendering the Debates (2005), editor of Everyday Pornography (2010) and co-founder of Gender Equal Media Scotland (@EqualMediaScot).
... Although it shares with the second wave the aim to raise awareness of (sexual) violence against women, the fourth wave of feminism is characterized by its focus on the intersection between gender and other social identities (e.g. race, class, and disability) and the implementation of new communication technologies to fight patriarchal oppression and violence (Blevins 2018;Boyle 2019). Therefore, hashtag feminism aims to denounce and fight rape culture, which consists of a set of values which normalize and trivialize sexual violence against women such as victim-blaming (i.e. ...
... In addition, studies have also examined the discourse of victim-survivors of intimate partner violence in online fora. Sánchez-Moya (2017) pointed out that the discourse of victim-survivors gradually changes from a negative emotional discourse to a more empowering one, which corresponds to the traditional stages from victimization to survival (Boyle 2019;Dunn 2005). ...
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The emergence of digital platforms has allowed feminists to employ new methods to fight gender inequality and break the silence which surrounds gender-based aggression. This paper aims to examine evaluative discourses employed by Twitter users to construct and denounce sexual violence in a corpus of tweets containing the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. This hashtag was created in 2018 as a response to Donald Trump's tweets in which he questioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's decision not to report her case of sexual assault when it occurred. As a result, victim-survivors adopted the hashtag to explain why they did not report their own cases. The present study adopts a corpus-assisted discourse analysis approach and draws on Appraisal Theory to examine ideological discourses of (sexually) violent acts and victim-survivors. Results show the presence of discourses of violence and emotional suffering employed to bond around shared experiences and publicly denounce oppressive patriarchal practices and a lack of support from institutions and authorities.
... The #MeToo hashtag "moment" (Boyle, 2019) emerged on Twitter after US actress Alyssa Milano put out a call to arms to survivors of sexual harassment and violence on Twitter in the wake of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. As is now well-recognised, the response to Milano's tweet was phenomenal, with millions of survivors and allies using the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter within the first 24-hours, followed by two years (and continuing) of sustained global conversation and activism in relation to sexual violence (Boyle, 2019;Fileborn & Loney-Howes, 2019;Gill & Orgad, 2018). ...
... The #MeToo hashtag "moment" (Boyle, 2019) emerged on Twitter after US actress Alyssa Milano put out a call to arms to survivors of sexual harassment and violence on Twitter in the wake of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. As is now well-recognised, the response to Milano's tweet was phenomenal, with millions of survivors and allies using the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter within the first 24-hours, followed by two years (and continuing) of sustained global conversation and activism in relation to sexual violence (Boyle, 2019;Fileborn & Loney-Howes, 2019;Gill & Orgad, 2018). The hashtag movement has been heralded for creating space for survivors to share their experiences in a context of support and belief, and for drawing attention to the 'magnitude' of both 'everyday' and 'extreme' forms of sexual violence, particularly (but not exclusively) in women's lives. ...
... The penile spectacle of the disformed, abnormal, and disgusting entailed a powerful fixing of Weinstein as monstrous other, and therefore as an exception from the rest of the population. This was paradoxical in that the affective force of #MeToo has been largely premised on the ubiquity, and hence the fundamental ordinariness, of sexual harassment and violence against women (Boyle, 2019). ...
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Academic debates on shame and the involuntary networked circulation of naked pictures have largely focused on instances of hacked accounts of female celebrities, on revenge porn, and interconnected forms of slut-shaming. Meanwhile, dick pics have been predominantly examined as vehicles of sexual harassment within heterosexual contexts. Taking a somewhat different approach, this article examines leaked or otherwise involuntarily exposed dick pics of men of notable social privilege, asking what kinds of media events such leaked data assemble, how penises become sites of public interest and attention, and how these bodies may be able to escape circuits of public shaming. By focusing on high-profile incidents on an international scale during the past decade, this article moves from the leaked shots of male politicians as governance through shaming to body-shaming targeted at Harvey Weinstein, to Jeff Bezos’s refusal to be shamed through his hacked dick pic, and to an accidentally self-published shaft shot of Lars Ohly, a Swedish politician, we examine the agency afforded by social privilege to slide through shame rather than be stuck in it. By building on feminist media studies and affect inquiry, we attend to the specificities of these attempts to shame, their connections to and disconnections from slut-shaming, and the possibilities and spaces offered for laughter within this all.
... The latter is further supported by Haddjieri [Haddjieri 2019] who states that "[w] omen in the media are often under-represented and portrayed in stereotypical ways" 3 , and although the MeToo movement has somewhat changed that trend [see also Boyle 2019 [Ross 2017: 56] calls such type of presentation "willful misinformation" as the focus is on what is sensational and easy to grasp by the audience. ...
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A number of approaches to media texts tend to apply an interactive model to communication, and the texts are seen are intrinsically dialogic, relying on the receivers’ subjective interpretation of meaning and activation of intertextual relations. In addition, media texts are increasingly used as material for linguistic analysis with the aim to reveal how their linguistic potential is utilized by journalists to convey messages and ideas, and influence the audience. The paper discusses the pragmatic functions of interrogatives and the way they are realized in media text, more specifically in newspaper articles’ headlines, leads and bodies excerpted from British and American online media over a period of two months. The analysis is mapped against previous research of interrogatives in the field of pragmatics and medialinguistics. The main findings show thatinterrogatives in headlines realize a range of pragmatic roles when used on their own or as part of paratactic or hypotactic complexes. These roles are closely dependent on their syntactic and semantic features and can range from attracting and focusing readers’ attention, to urging readers to think about issues, look for certain types of answers in the text, or think of their own answers or reactions. Headlines can be expanded or clarified in the sub-headings, lead and main body of the article. In the main body, interrogatives help to structure and authenticate writer’s dialogue with the audience, making the narrative or argumentation more emphatic, and soliciting active commitment to issues, feedback and empathy from the audience. Furthermore, some topics of high public interest and importance might lead to an increase in the number of questions in media texts. Further research of larger and more varied thematically material might throw light on the way different topics affect the frequency and distribution of pragmatic roles of interrogatives in media texts.
... The latter is further supported by Haddjieri [Haddjieri 2019] who states that "[w] omen in the media are often under-represented and portrayed in stereotypical ways" 3 , and although the MeToo movement has somewhat changed that trend [see also Boyle 2019], their image is still gendered [Adcock 2010;Garcia-Blanco & Wahl-Jorgensen 2011;Campus 2013;Meeks 2013;Joly & Wadia 2017] in a way that it is their physical appearance or looks, rather than their opinion or ideas, that are presented [see Acker 2003; Campus 2013; Ross 1 Actually, the attacks at Omar Ilhan's personal have been going on and off ever since 2016 when she gained some prominence on the political scene in the States. At the beginning of 2020, however, the attacks have been incessant for approximately four whole months. ...
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This analysis is a part of a bigger study on the presentation of Muslim women in the media. The focus here is on Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim Somali-born woman in American Congress, and more specifically on the latest publications on Omar which delve into her personal family life and the alleged marriage she has entered into with her brother, so that she can provide him with a green card for the USA. The topic presents a cross-section of several major fields of study such as feminism, media studies, and culture studies as the emphasis is on the biased media representation intended to diminish the real worth of a woman politician who is a carrier of several different identities, namely: gender, religious, ethnic, and class. The corpus for this study consists of 42 articles published in various online media over a period of four months from January 2020 to April 2020. The paper argues that first, the presentation Ilhan Omar enjoys is gendered and second, that it is subjected to the stereotypical image of Muslim women as submissive and silent, being of a lower status than men, especially in a male-dominated field such as politics. In addition, it is also argued that although Omar breaks the existing stereotypes of Muslim women, the way media present her actually reinforces the preconceived ideas she refutes. To prove the above, the main methods of analysis applied are Critical Discourse Analysis along with Multi-modal analysis when the non-verbal part of the presentation on the image is concerned.
... This article explains sociocultural contexts to South Korea's beauty resistance campaign and documents the contemporary history of the movement's development from a feminist perspective. This task follows researchers who have traced the development of contemporary feminist initiatives such as the #MeToo movement and anti-rape protests (Jagsi, 2018;Boyle, 2019;Biswas, 2018). This article will first provide theoretical contexts in terms of beauty practice and the social background of the tal-corset campaign-characteristics of beauty practice in South Korea and the social resources available for mobilizing the movement. ...
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The tal-corset movement, a beauty resistance campaign, swept South Korea’s feminist sce-ne in 2018 and became a phenomenon bringing about unprecedented social changes in South Korea. This article explains sociocultural contexts to South Korea’s tal-corset move-ment through group interviews and examination of online materials. It documents the contemporary history of the development of the movement from a feminist perspective. Findings show that movement participants see beauty practice as social oppression imposed on women’s bodies and appearances and the marker of women’s low social status. The new wave of an online feminist movement that emerged in 2015 created women-only communities that enabled South Korean women to share their personal experiences as women and to reach the conclusion that in order to reject femininity and sexual objectifi-cation of women, they needed to take off the corset collectively. Awareness was manifested by encouraging other women to reject beauty practice and display their own tal-corset prac-tice online and offline. This article argues that tal-corset movement is a feminist political movement that aims to eradicate femininity as social oppression. Female solidarity and connectedness played an essential role in forming the rationale and the tactics of the movement.
Chapter
This chapter offers an outline of some of the key tenets of radical feminist theory. I provide a critical analysis of the claim that feminism is now in a fourth wave, and I also consider the ways in which feminist scholars have theorised the relationship between technology and women’s liberation so far, addressing liberal feminist, postmodern/queer feminist and radical feminist approaches in turn. I argue that both radical feminists and social movement scholars have often failed to robustly consider how male power operates on social media. This has produced work which is prematurely celebratory about the revolutionary potential of digital space for feminism, scholarship that plays into—rather than critiques—the social and political agenda of Silicon Valley executives.
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This article examines the work of Intimacy Coordinators on television drama and film sets and the rise of this new role in the screen industry from a policy and production studies perspective. Since HBO made the employment of an Intimacy Coordinator mandatory on all productions with scenes of sex, nudity, and physical intimacy in 2018, intimacy coordination has become an industry standard and expectation. Through interviews and analysis of production practices, this article explores how Intimacy Coordinators change and challenge established production practices on and off set and interrogates the reasons behind the emergence of this role in the screen industry. It situates intimacy coordination in the context of recent industry policies and initiatives that promote equality and diversity, and counter harassment and abuse in the post-Weinstein era. It analyses this role on relation to changing production and distribution models and regimes in the era of VOD portals. The article argues that intimacy coordination is not only a catalyst for reforming practices on set, but a way for the screen industry to negotiate contemporary and historic concerns about sexual harassment and abuse, comply with recent policy and funding requirements, and a mechanism for mitigating economic and reputational risk to productions.
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In this paper, we analyse how characteristics of the work environment in the cultural industries influence the likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment. We differentiate between communicational (remarks, jokes and infantilization) and behavioural (physical contact and force) forms of sexual harassment. Experiencing the work environment as highly competitive and having a large professional network prove to be the most important explanatory factors. Doing artistic work is a secondary factor that helps explain the prevalence of sexual harassment. Occupational status is also important, but this effect differs for men and women. Men experience sexual harassment more often when they have a lower status position within the cultural and media industries, while this is not the case for women.
Chapter
The chapter investigates how women use the practice of speaking out in their activism to bring issues that are significant to them from the private sphere into the public sphere. Specifically, it focuses on analyzing how this was achieved in the case of the #MeToo movement, taken as the most prominent example of activism against sexual harassment in recent years. Using the conceptual tool of counter public sphere developed by Nancy Fraser, the chapter examines two relevant events from #MeToo: the sexual misconduct allegations against actor Aziz Ansari and the circulation of the so-called “Shitty Media Men” list.
Article
This article addresses the role of data in measuring diversity in the UK film industry and its mediation of underrepresented identities excluded from the sector. Through a data-led analysis of gender representation across 235 British films made from 2016, this study assesses the impact and success of the interventions made by the BFI Diversity Standards within the film industry, analysing the response data collected by the BFI for film productions that have adhered to the standards as a condition for production support. What empirical evidence do the Diversity Standards’ data offer for a link between gender representation and key roles, genres, and regional locations? The article then identifies some of the key drivers influencing the primacy of particular identities across the standards. I want to argue that gender-positive diversity, whilst representing a slender challenge to exclusion via the structural decrees of the BFI policy, can also be understood as the result of intra-race homophily, one that sustains a culture of whiteness and racial exclusion. The article concludes by considering the position of senior white men as the structuring agents upon whom rest the power to permit women entry, and the implications of both an absence of intersectional data and the rigid identity categories of the standards for the inclusion of BAME women in the film industry workforce.
Article
Social work literature is saturated with calls to reform social work in diverse and contradictory ways. This article argues that the profession of social work cannot be reformed and must be abolished. Specifically, the master narrative of Anglophone social work must be abandoned along with the institutions which maintain it; the professional bodies, the academic discipline and the formal title. Four reasons for this are presented: social work’s lack of coherent theory base, the problem of professionalism, social work’s historical abuses and the profession’s inability to rise to contemporary challenges. The fundamental theoretical tensions in social work theory are identified as preventing the profession from reconciling its aims of assuaging individual suffering and achieving social justice. This has also hindered social work’s aspiration to professionalism, which is both distracting and actively prevents social workers from working with people and communities. While these issues may have once been resolvable, the historical and contemporary contexts prevent resolution. Social work’s uncertain theoretical foundations, desire for professional legitimacy, past abuses and contemporary failures put the profession beyond recovery. No solutions or resolutions are suggested. What pieces are to be salvaged from the wreck of social work must be determined by the post-social work world.
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The various feminisms create a complex and sometimes contradictory picture. Within social work and social care, there has been a mixed reception. However, it is maintained that a gendered analysis in a profession where women remain in the majority remains highly relevant. In particular, the continuing and increasing pay gap and the relatively low numbers of women in senior positions are used as markers. Similarly, comparisons between ‘choice’ feminism and current practices are appraised. It is argued that critical deconstructive analyses drawn from postmodern feminism remain significant in both naming and addressing pervasive gender inequalities in national and international arenas.
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In this chapter, Lazard explores how three celebrity men’s experiences of sexual victimisation were constituted in the media. These include the cases of actors Anthony Rapp, Jimmy Bennett and Terry Crews. This chapter examines how male victims of sexual harassment and assault have been marginalised in both psychological and popular discourse. Lazard suggests that celebrity men’s visibility in popular feminism and new inclusive masculinities have created the conditions for their participation in #MeToo. The presence of male victims can be seen to unsettle common understandings of sexual violence as something that men do to women. This chapter, however, presents an argument that discusses how representations of male victims in these three cases still draw on and reinforce ideals of heterosexual masculinity as resistant to sexual victimisation.
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This chapter explores the notion of victimhood in sexual harassment discourse. Beginning with 1970s feminist activism, the chapter examines cultural shifts in understandings of victim identity as central to feminist resistance against sexual harassment. It focuses on the ways in which victim identity has been maligned in popular discourse because of its associations with powerlessness and passivity. Using media reporting around Actress Ashley Judd and Singer Taylor Swift’s experiences of sexual harassment and assault, the chapter examines how recent characterisations of victimhood depart from polarisations of agency as good and passivity as bad. It focuses on the implications of these narratives for engaging with intersectional power relations and for opening up spaces for a range of accounts of victimisation to be heard.
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This chapter explores sexual harassment as a workplace problem in both psychological and feminist research. It examines how the new normal of working lives, and shifts in ideals of the “good” worker, have shaped how sexual harassment is understood. Of particular importance is how neoliberal feminism, which primarily addresses professional and privileged women, dovetailed with initial traction of #MeToo. This chapter explores the complexities of intersectional power relations that are relevant for understanding less privileged women’s experiences of challenging sexual harassment. It focuses on how intersectional power relations can be minimised and obscured by recourse to women’s self-empowerment in postfeminist and neoliberal feminist discourse.
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This chapter examines the new visibility of the sexual predator discourse in making sense of sexual harassment and assault. The popularisation of the term sexual predator has dovetailed with neoliberal carceral politics of mass incarceration. Within the sexual predator discourse, sex offending is treated as symptomatic of an individual’s abnormal psychology. This chapter explores this discourse in media reportings of celebrity perpetrator apologies for sexual harassment during the galvanisation of #MeToo. The chapter concludes that the sexual predator discourse may constrain or even undo the impacts of #MeToo, which include men’s discussion and reflection on personal sexual relationships.
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This article engages the global controversies of digital feminism within the recent scholarship and offers a situated and critical analysis of Chinese young women's digital feminism. Based on the ethnographic online observation of young women's activism in social media from 2012 to 2018 and in-depth interviews with feminist activists, my analysis takes the two landmark online campaigns in Weibo as case studies: Naked Chest against Domestic Violence and #MituInChina, and elaborates on how such digital activism converged in and diverged from the development of Chinese feminism from the 1950s to 2000s and rewrote the politics of “the personal is political” in these three aspects: (1) establishing gendered and political subjectivity via different ways of consciousness raising; (2) further politicizing women's private matters for provoking public discussions and pressuring the government for policy changes; (3) forming new coalitions for public activism. The article further exposes the drawbacks of such digital activism: (1) the precarity of digital platforms; (2) the problems of politicizing personal issues in social media. This paper aims to delineate a comprehensive and complex picture of Chinese young women's online activism and thus contributes to a fuller understanding of digital feminism in Asia.
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As the contributors to the book have shown, there have been huge strides made towards gender equality, but in the challenging times of the first quarter of the twenty-first century, there is still much work to be done. Sometimes, this will be through conscious effort, such as the IOC’s commitment to have 50% women athletes competing at the 2020 Tokyo games (the percentage of female participation in the Summer Olympics has increased from 28% in 2000 to 45% in 2016, with the 2012 London Olympics being the first time women had been able to compete in every sport across the Olympic programme). Sometimes, this quest for gender equality continues to be enshrined in law. For example, in 2018, the Icelandic government made the gender pay gap illegal, with a view to closing this pay gap by 2022. However, as Almadani’s chapter on the liberalisation of gender laws in Saudi Arabia shows, this is not always welcomed. In fact, in the Arabian world, what is taken for granted in terms of gender equality is still highly contested. In September 2019, a female Iranian football fan was arrested for attempting to enter a football stadium disguised as a man. She later died through self-emollition whilst waiting for her trial to come to court.
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Editorial del número 240 de la RMCPS.
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Social media, particularly image sharing platforms such as Instagram, has changed the nature of what it means to be “visible” in the contemporary political climate. The accessibility of Instagram offers hitherto unimaginable opportunities for users to perform their political beliefs. The feminist potential of Instagram as a platform is apparent in the number of overtly feminist accounts. Such accounts go some way towards harnessing the power of the spectatorial gaze by turning the camera on themselves as they challenge traditional constructions of gender and beauty and perform for an audience other than a presumed able-bodied, white, male, heterosexual spectator. This article analyses the potential of instagram as a site of feminist activism, resistance and visibility. Using examples from instagram accounts that engage in feminist discourse it demonstrates the ways in which Instagram facilitates the performance of feminist politics for its users. However it also interrogates the limits of Instagram as a space for feminist action. Taking into account the normative boundaries imposed by dominant neoliberal capitalist discourses and instagram’s own rules and regulations, it will explore the limitations of feminism on Instagram.
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This paper assembles emerging scholarship attendant to the marginalisation of people by market structures of power and dominance. We conceptualise this as market violence and locate one group of people largely missing from this conversation: women. To theorise women’s structural subordination in the marketplace we introduce several key tenets of radical feminist theory. Then, applying the continuum of sexual violence, we conceive markets as structures of sexual violence. Through the online pornography market, we find the market system (in producing and distributing women as commodities) is perpetrating a complex range of (often difficult to define) forms of sexual violence. We then reveal the market’s pervasiveness as a form of sexual harassment. To finish, we offer the continuum as a broader conceptualisation for future market violence scholarship.
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This article explores how female victims of sexual violence are portrayed in Internet memes about #MeToo on three social media sites: 9gag, Reddit and Imgur. Using discourse analysis, the article discusses how victims of sexual violence are considered either ‘rapeable’ or ‘unrapeable’ depending on their appearance and their sexual agency, and it considers the way in which women are blamed and held responsible for men’s abuse. Exploring how victims are portrayed also points to how sexual violence is discursively constructed within a humorous discursive space which ultimately trivializes sexual violence. As such, this article expands on existing literature on #MeToo to consider sexual violence, backlash and online humour.
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In the wake of movements such as #MeToo, greater scrutiny has been brought to bear on the everyday nature of sexual violence. This has manifested in a global phenomenon of survivors speaking out publicly across a diverse range of platforms. This article explores one such Australian case that went on to become highly publicised against the backdrop of #MeToo. In May 2013, an 18-year-old woman named Saxon Mullins met 21-year-old Luke Lazarus on the dancefloor of a nightclub in the inner Sydney suburb of Kings Cross. Lazarus claimed he was the part-owner of the club and offered to take her to a VIP area. Instead, he led her to a dark alley and had sexual intercourse with her. Mullins has always described this as non-consensual. In 2018, after a complex legal process comprising two trials, both of which were overturned in response to successful appeals, the New South Wales Court of Appeal ordered against a third trial on the basis that it would be oppressive and unfair to Lazarus. In response, following widespread media interest in the case, Mullins spoke out publicly in 2018 on a national current affairs program, Four Corners. While the sidelining of victims from formal criminal justice processes has been widely documented, we explore how this can also occur in media coverage accompanying a case. Identifying a shift in the status afforded to the victim in the wake of her speaking out publicly, we argue that this raises broad questions about the impact of victim anonymity provisions and highlights how a survivor’s capacity to speak out in the wake of institutional failures is highly contingent. A tension between the tangible value of anonymity, set against the perverse effect of once again silencing victims, is a dilemma that remains unresolved.
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This chapter examines the ways in which recent true crime narratives produced by women reflect discourses shaped by the Me Too movement. In the podcast My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, Hallie Rubenhold’s book The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (2019), and documentaries The Yorkshire Ripper Files: A Very British Crime Story (2019) and Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer (2020), women’s voices and perspectives are centred in ways that significantly question how female victimhood is represented, both in true crime and within wider cultural contexts. However, while these texts can be seen to challenge the true crime genre’s conventions, they also fail to fully escape those conventions, at times reaffirming problematic discourses that erase or exploit victims.
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Awareness of the frequency of sexual victimization has been promoted through the #MeToo movement that opened the floodgates for survivors of sexual harassment, victimization, and violence to disclose their victimization. This research explores 41 rape victim advocates' perceptions of the #MeToo movement and concludes that they recognize its strengths and weaknesses. They credit the movement for: empowering survivors to disclose their experience possibly due to reduced stigma surrounding sexual victimization given the number of disclosures, providing support through social media from other survivors, and increasing societal awareness of the prevalence of sexual victimization. Those interviewed fault the movement for: giving the false perception that since so many survivors are stepping forward then reports must be fabricated, pressuring victims to support the movement through disclose and criticizing those who do not disclose, and hindering survivors' ability to escape media and social media coverage of sexual victimization. Advocates perceived #MeToo to be more of a "movement" rather than a "moment." However, to sustain its progress advocates suggested that action must be taken to create change for survivors and to reduce the occurrence of sexual victimization through policy/legal change and perpetrator accountability.
Chapter
The chapter investigates how women use the practice of speaking out in their activism to bring issues that are significant to them from the private sphere into the public sphere. Specifically, it focuses on analyzing how this was achieved in the case of the #MeToo movement, taken as the most prominent example of activism against sexual harassment in recent years. Using the conceptual tool of counter public sphere developed by Nancy Fraser, the chapter examines two relevant events from #MeToo: the sexual misconduct allegations against actor Aziz Ansari and the circulation of the so-called “Shitty Media Men” list.
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This chapter draws on the key themes and findings of the book, whilst considering current challenges faced by the UK Parliament in its efforts to eradicate workplace sexual harassment. The chapter critically examines persistent institutional barriers to eradicating the practice and draws on some key lessons from the #MeToo era, including first: addressing the gender power gap that sees women disadvantaged worldwide in comparison to men, regarding most areas of education, employment and wider social life. Second, a corporate culture of complicity, which allows perpetrators of sexual misconduct to get away with their offences. Third, the misuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to silence victims, whilst failing to address offenders’ behaviour. Fourth, the ‘fear factor’ that prevents victims from reporting cases. Finally, the chapter reflects on the need to ‘speak up’ in order to change institutional mindsets.
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This chapter provides a contextual account of the rise of #MeToo as an global gender-equality campaign supporting those affected by sexual transgressions. Originally articulated by African-American civil rights activist Tarana Burke in 2006, the slogan ‘me too’ was meant as a rallying cry to support young minority ethic survivors of sexual abuse. Years later, social media would turn Burke’s motto into a byword for the global #MeToo movement. The chapter chronicles the events surrounding #MeToo’s inception, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual exploitation scandal in 2017, and The New York Times and The New Yorker exposés of his serial offending within the film industry. It also examines the narratives of countless survivors and #MeToo campaigners, including high-profile cases such as those of Rose McGowan, Alyssa Milano, Mimi Haleyi, Jessica Mann and Zelda Perkins. The chapter then critically considers the growth and international significance of #MeToo as well as its inherent shortcomings.
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Based on Lianne Moriarty’s 2014 novel, HBO’s Big Little Lies, intricate representation of feminist issues including childcare, careers, domestic abuse and assault has garnered critical acclaim in its acute portrayal of elements behind the exteriors not often glimpsed in television representations of motherhood, marriage and relationships. This article examines the series’ complex and sensitive depiction of domestic violence and sexual assault, illustrating the influence of the #MeToo movement on representations of feminist concerns in popular television series. The essay also denotes that the series reflects what I propose to call “conspicuous feminism” and further interrogates how the prominence of #MeToo raises its visibility while engaging with significant feminist themes. As a result, Big Little Lies’ undertaking of these themes can be largely prescribed to a conspicuous feminism that has commercial visibility and appeal in its resolute scrutiny of the circumstances of misogyny and abuse, though elements of race and class are not solidly addressed.
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Sexual assault of men by women has received increasing attention in recent years, as has research on rape myths about male victims. This study is a cross-generational replication of a 1984 study of college students’ judgments about male and female victims in a scenario involving a sexual assault carried out by male or female assailants. The 1984 data ( n = 172) were compared with those of a 2019 cohort ( n = 372) in a 2 (participant gender) x 2 (assailant gender) x 2 (victim gender) x 2 (cohort) factorial design to assess potential generational changes in perceptions of victims. Judgments by male participants of male victims of assaults carried out by women changed notably over time. The 2019 male cohort was less likely to judge that the victim initiated or encouraged the incident (40% in 1984 compared with 15% in 2019) and derived pleasure from it (47.4% in 1984 compared with 5.8% in 2019). In contrast, the 2019 female cohort was more likely to attribute victim encouragement (26.9% compared with 4.3% in 1984) and pleasure to the male victim (25% in 2019 compared with 5% in 1984). A similar gender pattern occurred in judgments of how stressful the event was for the male victim. Analysis of the 2019 data revealed that overall, despite scientific and cultural shifts that have occurred over the past three decades, participants continued to judge the male victim of assault by a female to have been more encouraging and to have experienced more pleasure and less stress than in any other assailant/victim gender combination. Results are discussed in relation to gendered stereotypical beliefs and male rape myths, as well as possible sensitization to power differentials inspired by the #MeToo movement. We emphasize the need for greater awareness and empirical attention to abuse that runs counter to preconceived notions about sexual victimization.
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This article interrogates the representation of feminism and feminists in contemporary US teen drama series. Focusing on Riverdale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Charmed, I explore the racialized affective dimensions of female protagonists’ reactions to sexual violence. Textual analysis of the function of female anger—its causes, expression, and consequences—in sexual violence storylines signals the emergence of a new feminist figure within teen drama: the joykill, a postfeminist and postracial version of Sara Ahmed’s feminist killjoy. In these series, anger sparked by sexual violence incites female solidarity and culminates in utopian scenarios of feminist success. This new, celebratory representation of feminists and feminism as a unifying force visually centers diversity, while the intersections between sexism and racism in experiences of sexual violence remain unexplored within storytelling. Despite its intersectional look, this hollowly diverse feminism is thus racialized as white.
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Since it first originated in the United States, #MeToo has spread around the world, giving rise to the most powerful and widespread global campaign against sexual violence in history. In March 2019, Mexican women created Twitter accounts and hashtags to share their experiences of sexual assault at workplaces and schools, in a country where nearly eleven women are murdered every day. The #MeToo campaign was intense and brief. It was trending at the end of March 2019, but by mid-April interest in it had plummeted. This article examines how the hashtag depended on activists’ efforts in order to build an affective community for disclosure of sexual harassment. Based on the voices of participants, this study argues that although activists were able to handle affective labor to solve collectively urgent problems arising within the campaign, they failed to withstand the backlash which followed the suicide of Armando Verga Gil, a famous rock musician, after being accused of sexual abuse online. From the perspective of social movements theory, #MeToo is characterized as digital direct action forming part of the repertoire of contention of feminist crowds.
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Between 2019 and 2020, three streaming series premiered on Netflix, Apple+, and BBC One/HBO: Unbelievable, The Morning Show, and I May Destroy You. All three narratively centered sexual violence against women, foregrounding the experiences of the women characters, and were produced within the context of the global movement #MeToo. We offer a conjunctural analysis of these programs within what we call the economy of believability, arguing that these shows should be read as fictionalized real-world phenomena, distilled for television but nonetheless reflective of deeply sedimented assumptions about women, sexual violence, and believability. We argue that the programs examine the struggle for belief as it manifests in three key forms of labor: (1) the affective performance of believability; (2) payment of the costs of believability; (3) entrepreneurially attaching value to believability. Our analysis positions the discourses and narratives of these shows—and of the real-world contexts they speak to—within the broader frame of a mediated, intersectional economy of believability, where contestations about how and when women may be believed play out in and through struggles over visibility, authenticity, and recognition.
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This essay examines how the 2021 HBO docu-series Allen v.Farrowdestabilizes a “he said/she said” framing of historic child sex abuse accusations against Hollywood auteur Woody Allen. Joining a number of other recent docu-series on celebrity sexual abuse cases, Allen v.Farrow repurposes the long-form true crime structure to focus sustained investigative attention on sexual violence as a crime that demands social justice. Refuting charges that the piece is “biased” against Allen, the essay argues that Kirby Dick’s and Amy Ziering’s four-part true crime investigative series is in fact designed to interrogate the notion of “communicative injustice”. In its support of Dylan and Mia Farrow’s voices, the docu-series challenges the cultural logics of “bothsidesism” and reveals how a misogynistic media culture enabled a gendered cultural narrative that silenced Dylan and painted her mother as a scorned and vengeful woman. As part of a wider cultural turn toward re-evaluating gender roles of the 1990s, Allen v.Farrow invites reflection on the gendered cultural logic that saw a child-exploiting midlife female vendetta as a more intelligible cultural script than male child sexual abuse.
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This paper provides an outline of, and rationale for, an international research project that will identify commonalities and disparities in illegal school exclusionary practices in Australia and England. The aims here are to situate such practices within a global context and to map the events and processes through which children and young people, particularly those with 'special' educational needs and disabilities, are removed from school in Australia and England. The research we advocate is premised on evidence that inequitable and illegal exclusionary practices are endemic in education systems globally; hence, 'pushout syndrome' in the USA, 'off rolling' in England, facilitated 'dropout' in Italy and 'grey exclusions' in Australia. The authors argue that the repeated commissioning of research by national governments and school inspectorates, intended to accurately ascertain the scale of this problem and its impact on the life trajectories of the excluded, serves to defer meaningful action to prevent its occurrence. School exclusion, whether legal or illegal, can be conceptualised as a process rather than an event, and this paper discusses a descriptive continuum through which exclusionary practices in Australia and England can be mapped An experiential continuum is proposed that facilitates a thematic mapping of contributory factors, identified from a relevant literature, as a preliminary analytical framework for future research.
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Since #MeToo took the Internet by storm in 2017, it has had transnational social and legal ramifications. However, there has been little research on the repercussions of this movement for the ways in which masculinity has been politicized as questions around its meaning and place in gender relations were brought to the forefront of public discussions. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants from two Western Anglophone men’s groups, one embracing and one opposing feminist ideas. Our findings demonstrate a qualitative shift in contemporary expressions of “backlash” and “masculinity politics” in the #MeToo era compared to their initial formulations in the wake of the women’s and men’s movements of the 1960s to 1980s, shaped by novel tropes and tactics.
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In China, a few posts related to #MeToo movement survived and remained online well after its peak and the state’s response in July 2018. This article proposes a theoretical framework that pays attention to discursive meaning-making and employs a broad notion of empowerment, referred to as ‘empowerment through discourse’, in order to offer a more nuanced understanding of the low-profile #MeToo movement in the Chinese context. This framework is used to analyse a corpus of uncensored #MeToo material, which appeared on Chinese social media. This article combines a discourse analysis of these posts and interviews with feminists from activist collectives to critically examine feminist empowerment by reflecting on survivor/victim narration and storytelling practices, digital media’s capacity to facilitate critical dialogue between witnesses and survivors/victims and activist collectives’ organising role in opening up a dialogic space for collective reading, listening and healing. These reflections lead to broader considerations on how notions of empowerment can spur collective action and structural change. In short, this article demonstrates the potential possibility of discursive change and reflects on this mode of feminist politics as a way to speak to empowerment in the Chinese context.
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The essential premise of #MeToo is that, while large numbers of women are subject to sexual harassment and assault, this reality is not known to or understood by unnamed others. This article interrogates the subject of non-knowing that #MeToo points to but does not name, asking: who exactly does not know, and why? These questions provide the starting point to elaborate the concept of male ignorance. While this lexicon has been fleetingly deployed in canonical feminist works – where it denotes something so obvious that it does not require explanation, functioning instead as a kind of feminist common sense – I develop it here so it might be put to greater use as a dedicated analytic. The work of Charles Mills, particularly his writings on white ignorance, provides a critical precedent in this regard. Following Mills in foregrounding the ideological operations of not knowing, I conceive male ignorance as a structure of concerted if unconscious epistemic occlusion which both stems from and serves to protect male privilege. As such, it plays a crucial role in securing the overall relation of domination and oppression within which gendered lives are lived. While male ignorance is itself multiple and has a variety of stakeholders, I argue that the non-knowing that surrounds sexual harassment and assault – which #MeToo draws attention to and seeks to undo – constitutes a paradigmatic manifestation, one in which cisgender heterosexual men have a particular stake.
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This chapter explores the highly complex relationship between trauma and voice. It focuses on the mediated voices of two women in the context of #MeToo, both of whom are understood as now finally ‘speaking their truth’ and ‘taking back control’ of their traumatic narratives. The chapter’s analysis of media narratives around Lewinsky suggests that to have one’s traumatised voice heard seems to require a preceding period (or at least a claim) of ‘silence’. While Gadsby has often been hailed as emblematic of the newly unleashed ‘wave’ of rage and trauma, an analysis of her stand-up show Nanette points to a much more modulated and contained articulation of traumatised voice. The chapter argues that having ‘voice’ in contemporary culture is still profoundly shaped by the insidious communicative logics of patriarchy.
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