Networked feminism: counterpublics and the intersectional issues of #MeToo

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Abstract

In October 2017, millions of people shared public testimonials of sexual abuse and harassment in an expression of global vulnerability using the hashtag #MeToo. While #MeToo was triggered by Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano, the phrase can be traced back a decade earlier to when African-American activist Tarana Burke said “me too” in a private exchange of solidarity with young black girls who were survivors of sexual assault. This study examines over 200,000 tweets from the first three days of #MeToo to understand how the meaning and narratives of the feminist hashtag were discursively negotiated. Combining social network analysis and discourse analysis, the paper draws attention to the exclusivity of popular and networked feminism and elevates the voices of the multiply marginalised survivors who were erased from the dominant narratives of #MeToo. It is a call to white feminist researchers and activists to be mindful of the voices that are excluded when examining popular feminist actions. The study contributes an understanding of the power dynamics within digital feminist networks that reproduce colonial violence and oppression within mainstream neoliberal feminism and academia, and extends support to the existing research that documents how digital networks do not empower marginalised voices equitably.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalFeminist Media Studies
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • activism
  • Feminism
  • network analysis
  • public sphere
  • social media

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