Introduction: mapping the emergence of #MeToo
Sexual violence is an incredibly polarizing subject. On the one hand, sexual violence can incite outrage and moral indignation from the public and politicians alike. On the other hand, survivors who speak out about sexual violence routinely face scrutiny from their friends, family, police and the public. Many are accused of lying about their experiences, and others for not being 'authentic' victims or traumatized enough. Some are blamed for being assaulted: that they were 'asking for it'. At the same time, feminist activists have long sought to challenge these views, along with the assumption that rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are the products of the random acts of individual men who are regarded as 'sick' or 'social deviants' and unknown to their victims. Instead, many feminists argue that these acts are a reflection of a 'rape culture', a highly contested term that refers to the social, cultural and political processes that condone violence against women but also blame women (and all other victim-survivors) if and when violence is perpetrated against them (Buchwald, Fletcher, & Roth, 1993). The flood of participation in #MeToo reaffirmed publicly just how widespread sexual assault and harassment actually are; that most victim-survivors know the offender; and, significantly, that these experiences are routine and normalized, in short, confirming many feminist arguments about 'rape culture'.
Fileborn, B. & Loney-Howes, R. (2019). Introduction: mapping the emergence of #MeToo. In B. Fileborn & R. Loney-Howes (Eds.), #MeToo and the politics of social change (pp. 1-18). Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.