This study aims to explore the #MeToo movement as a lens to shed a light on some of the wider transformations concerning feminist and communicative practices. #MeToo is a social media campaign that began in October 2017 to combat sexual violence; it has been described as “a watershed moment in sexual violence activism”. The use of hashtag campaigns for activism has been understood as a new form of the feminist challenge of the traditional division between public and private, since it entails the public discussion of issues that are often cast aside as private. This effort is facilitated by digital media's intrinsic potential to blur the public-private divide, offering easier access to individuals who wish to participate in discussion in the “public space” of digital platforms. In order to explore the complexities of #MeToo as a form of digital feminist activism, the research focuses on the social media conversation that occurred in the first six months of the movement (October 2017 – April 2018). The study adopts an integrated approach combining quantitative and qualitative analysis to examine a dataset of over two million tweets. The first stage of the research takes a quantitative approach to give an overview of the main trends and themes in the dataset, identifies some key concepts to guide the analysis in the second stage of the research. The second stage uses the tool of thematic analysis to investigate the discussion of two controversial #MeToo cases: the allegations of sexual misconduct against actor Aziz Ansari and the publication of an “anti-#Metoo” open letter in Le Monde. The integration of the two approaches produces results that point to a conceptualisation of #MeToo as a “culture war”, a site of struggle over the meanings and boundaries of contemporary feminism, especially with regard to sexual violence. In particular, it is arguable that #MeToo has managed to produce a discursive shift in the cultural landscape, by making unique use of a combination of social media engagement, amplification on news media, and a widening of the themes to be discussed in the public sphere. While findings contribute to an understanding of #MeToo as a feminist intervention in the main public sphere, it is also a movement that takes place within an “economy of visibility” and that is subject to “social media logic”. This translates to an attempt by media platforms to capitalise on survivors’ stories for commercial purposes and to an unequal distribution of visibility that favours the voices of white, privileged women. A theme of backlash also emerges consistently, as the social changes brought forward by #MeToo are met with resistance by those who hold more conservative views of gender and sexuality. In this sense, #MeToo can be interpreted as the expression of a wider struggle between “popular feminism” and “popular misogyny” that is key to understanding the gender politics of our time.

Shifting discourses on sexual violence: an analysis of #MeToo on Twitter / Bernardini, Vittoria. - (2021 Jul 26).

Shifting discourses on sexual violence: an analysis of #MeToo on Twitter

BERNARDINI, VITTORIA
2021

Abstract

This study aims to explore the #MeToo movement as a lens to shed a light on some of the wider transformations concerning feminist and communicative practices. #MeToo is a social media campaign that began in October 2017 to combat sexual violence; it has been described as “a watershed moment in sexual violence activism”. The use of hashtag campaigns for activism has been understood as a new form of the feminist challenge of the traditional division between public and private, since it entails the public discussion of issues that are often cast aside as private. This effort is facilitated by digital media's intrinsic potential to blur the public-private divide, offering easier access to individuals who wish to participate in discussion in the “public space” of digital platforms. In order to explore the complexities of #MeToo as a form of digital feminist activism, the research focuses on the social media conversation that occurred in the first six months of the movement (October 2017 – April 2018). The study adopts an integrated approach combining quantitative and qualitative analysis to examine a dataset of over two million tweets. The first stage of the research takes a quantitative approach to give an overview of the main trends and themes in the dataset, identifies some key concepts to guide the analysis in the second stage of the research. The second stage uses the tool of thematic analysis to investigate the discussion of two controversial #MeToo cases: the allegations of sexual misconduct against actor Aziz Ansari and the publication of an “anti-#Metoo” open letter in Le Monde. The integration of the two approaches produces results that point to a conceptualisation of #MeToo as a “culture war”, a site of struggle over the meanings and boundaries of contemporary feminism, especially with regard to sexual violence. In particular, it is arguable that #MeToo has managed to produce a discursive shift in the cultural landscape, by making unique use of a combination of social media engagement, amplification on news media, and a widening of the themes to be discussed in the public sphere. While findings contribute to an understanding of #MeToo as a feminist intervention in the main public sphere, it is also a movement that takes place within an “economy of visibility” and that is subject to “social media logic”. This translates to an attempt by media platforms to capitalise on survivors’ stories for commercial purposes and to an unequal distribution of visibility that favours the voices of white, privileged women. A theme of backlash also emerges consistently, as the social changes brought forward by #MeToo are met with resistance by those who hold more conservative views of gender and sexuality. In this sense, #MeToo can be interpreted as the expression of a wider struggle between “popular feminism” and “popular misogyny” that is key to understanding the gender politics of our time.
File allegati a questo prodotto
File Dimensione Formato  
Tesi_dottorato_Bernardini.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Tesi di dottorato
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 2.07 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
2.07 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri PDF

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1578791
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact