Pro v. Sceptics of #MeToo

Just some extracted info on academic support of movement vs. criticism to it (I’ve also included some stuff about responses in magazines from actors but don’t want to get too into that as it might raise more questions about who has a voice etc. ) but also have a part just on criticisms on who has a voice, which is especially relevant 

Positives:

  • Empowerment: According to Freire (2006), cited in R4, Shareefah: “social change does not occur individually, but collectively as humans mobilize and function as change agents within their community… a community’s social engagement nad action should allow them to understand their role, as a community, in the injustice and their capability as a unified force for fighting against inequality and social injustice” (Shareefah 2) à Twitter is a platform which allows for different people to come together and form virtual communities with linking factor/Experience and call out, together, the injustices they have faced
  • “social media can be a platform that creates critical consciousness that can lead to social action and subsequent social justice” (Shareefah, 3)

 

Editorial criticism:

  • Men-women relationship:
    • “Of course rape is a serious crime, the letter said, but ‘trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily’, is not. Men must have a ‘right to hit on women’, the French rebels said” (Spectator)
  • Defamation:
    • Liam Neeson“Men are being cast out of the entertainment world on the basis of mere accusation”
    • Jeremy Piven: “allegations are being printed as facts and lives are being put in jeopardy without a hearing, due process or evidence” (Spectator)
    • “That those who merely question the #MeToo movement can be publicly denounced as apologists for rapacious behaviour… further confirms that this supposed campaign for justice now grates against justice”

 

Scholarly criticism of the movement:

  • Victimology paradigm: “recognising inequality among genders requires conceding perceived female frailties” (R1, Tenzer)
  • Objectification of women: the “vivid details” of the “public descriptions of sexual assaults… re-inscribe women as sexual objects” (Davis, 4)
    • Yet, agency and the power within agency has always been important to feminism à “agency has always been important for feminism precisely because it is more than an individual capacity; rather, it is practice that is instrumental for social change.” (Davis, 4)
  • Outcome: “we should not assume that what is happening among the political and cultural elites will automatically ‘trickle down’ to the streets” (Davis 6)
  • Making the perpetrator visible ≠ making the problem visible: visibility should not “be taken as a solution to the problem of sexual violence” (Davis, 6)

 

Criticism we are addressing: Speaking out/ who has a voice?

  • Unheard:
    • “there are still many women who would not be able to participate” and speak out because of the “sanctions” they risk or lack of access to Twitter as a social media platform (although this second point is a bit weaker as an account is free and majority of people do have access to internet)
    • “very powerful men and women have known of others’ behaviour and never spoke up. Speaking up comes with a price and many are not ready to pay it” (Davis 8)
  • Celebrities voice: “many of the women were well-known celebrities and they situated themselves as agents, not as victims.” (Davis, 5)
    • “the most visibly #MeToo women are powerful: rich and famous celebrities… the fact that they are famous and that many are speaking at the same time, makes all the difference in allowing their accusations to be heard and believed” (Davis, 5) – idea that those victims who are heard and believed are the rich and famous celebrities
  • Not included: “danger of forgetting that sexual harassment, assault and violence are very much part of everyday life of many different women and men, and that when feminists say it is a. matter of ‘power relations’ we do not actually reduce this power to a number of powerful men” (Davis 7)
  • Voice of the accused vs. accuser?
    • “media seems to believe the accusers, fully and unconditionally” (Davis 6)
    • Movement “has provided public recognition and support for individuals who have experienced sexual harassment/violence. However, it has also generated a ‘trial by media’ where individual men are publicly ‘blamed and shamed’ for actions for which they often suffer severe consequences, and before having a chance to defend themselves.” (Davis 6)

How #metoo represents twitter movements as a whole

Rough rough draft of how #metoo can be linked to Twitter movements as a whole as well as some discussion on the impact/influence of Twitter. 

Social media and advancing technological communication has often been blamed for separating and individualising people, as they live and communicate with others through communication mediums such as email, Facebook messenger, private messages on Instagram/Twitter etc., rather than in-person. However, social media platforms such as Twitter, have enabled for communities to emerge as they find mutual connections, transcending geographical boundaries of the ‘real world’. Twitterstorms, to an extent, reflect this phenomenon.

The term ‘twtitterstorm’ is used to discuss certain spikes in activity surrounding particular topics and issues. Moreover, it is powerful in that it generates social action, expanding the issue to other social media platforms but also tangible action outside of the virtual world of social media, communication mediums. This phenomenon could be seen in #Ferguson, as it led to street protests and to a lesser extent, #taketheknee. The #MeToo movement is an example of social action being instigated by a contemporary issue, born out of social medi.

Contextually, the idea of Twitter and collective action is, therefore, a 21st-century issue. The 2009 Twitter Revolutions debate discussed “whether Twitter triggers revolutions, and whether twittered uprisings are effective”(Segerberg). Although Segerberg considered larger, general social protest movements such as climate change protests, this question can be applied more specifically to the #MeToo movement, the answer to which would be yes. Indeed, looking at the actions taken in response to the hashtag has revealed countless claimed perpetrators, who are under investigation.

Gladwell (2010), however, argues that social media activism cannot “bring about systemic change” as it “fails to generate committed collective action when the going gets tough.” The outcome of the #MeToo movement is yet to be known, however, in this particular issue, coming out as a victim of sexual harassment or assault on such a public platform, is arguably, in itself “tough” and the sheer responses to the hashtag (Ciara stats) whether directly on Twitter or externally such as the growth of the Time’s Up movement and symbolic support to the movement, is proof that it has generated committed collective action. Moreover, he states “the instruments of social media… are not a natural enemy of the status quo,” yet again, the #MeToo movement shows how this has evolved, as it has provided a voice and a platform to those who might have felt marginalised in society, by sharing their stories with others who had suffered similar experiences.

Citations:

Alexandra Segerberg, “Social Media and the Organization of Collective Action: Using Twitter to Explore the Ecologies of Two Climate Change Protests”. The Communication Review. Vol 14 Issue 3 (2011). pg 197-215 doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10714421.2011.597250

Malcolm Gladwell. “Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted”. The New Yorker, Oct 4 2010 (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell)

Scholarly Articles

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Hi Girls,

I finally have access to the blog! (yay)
So here is a compilation of scholarly articles I’ve gathered over the past few weeks. I’ve attached the articles themselves with highlighted sections that I found most important/relevant to what we are looking at.
If you don’t have too much time, the most relevant is “ambiguities and dilemmas around #MeToo” as it follows a discussion between two women, and raises interesting questions about the legitimacy of the movement in itself, and the questions and issues that it brings forward (the two women self-identify as feminists).
I haven’t found more general articles on Twitter as a platform for the ‘voiceless’, so will keep on looking into that a bit more and let you know how it progresses!

Laura

 

#MeToo, Statutory Rape Laws and the Persistence of Gender by Leslie Y. Garfield Tenzer — SSRN copy ambiguities and dilemmas around #MeToo cultivating ambivalence empowering communities through social media empowerment in action The #MeToo movement is at a dangerous tipping point – The Washington Post copy The #MeToo movement’s feminist dystopia | Coffee House will you accept this twitter apology