Writing, Reading and Reproducing #MeToo Accounts : An Institutional Ethnography Approach to Researching the Feminist Hashtag

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Tema Genus

Abstract: On 15 October 2017 actress Alyssa Milano posted the following on her Twitter account: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet”. After Milano’s tweet, the hashtag #MeToo is said to have gone viral overnight. Suddenly, the stories of survivors and victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or sexual abuse seemed to be everywhere— although, it may be argued, that they have always been the lived reality for many of us. Activists and those who research feminist hashtags like #MeToo tend to view the hashtag as a personalized tool for storytelling that enables survivors and victims to re-claim agency over the production of their own stories. This thesis deals with how survivors/victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or sexual abuse tell their stories and reproduce their experiences in the context of #MeToo movement. Through an analysis within the framework of institutional ethnography, the process of constructing a #MeToo account will be recovered. The analysis focuses on investigating what informs and shapes the way in which survivors/victims tell their story and how their #MeToo accounts interact with the reader. It will be argued that institutional processes of handling cases of sexual violence significantly influence the way survivors and victims share their experiences in the context of the movement. It will be suggested that being critical and mindful of the institutional processes that affect the way survivors and victims share their experiences, means to disrupt the oppression and the violence that criminal justice systems and retributive models of justice perpetrate. As it is then that we can open up to more transformative, sustainable approaches to justice and survivor/victim support. The project contributes to the current body of feminist hashtag activism scholarship with an institutional ethnography perspective.

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