• Breaking the silence: Exploring women's experiences of the #MeToo movement

      O'Halloran, Olivia; Department of Sociology
      The #MeToo movement encourages breaking the social silence about sexual violence online; survivors share their experiences of sexual violence under the hashtag #MeToo across social media platforms, joining with other survivors in a network of empowerment, resistance, and empathy. This thesis focuses on women’s participation in #MeToo through their video blog (vlog) postings on YouTube. I analyze 12 of the most viewed vlogs posted on YouTube under #MeToo between September 19th, 2019, and September 19th, 2020, addressing how women in this online forum represent their experiences of sexual violence, silencing, and participation in the #MeToo movement. Particularly, I investigate the affordances of participation that these women identify, as well as how they represent the #MeToo movement’s goals, what drawbacks they experience in relation to breaking the silence, and how they imagine their experiential narratives may affect other survivors of sexual violence. Through their detailed testimony on YouTube, vloggers voice and resist the structures that silenced them while encouraging other survivors to recognize and resist these structures in their own experiences. Analyzing these vlogs contributes to a greater understanding of how individual women think and feel about the #MeToo movement as they interact under the hashtag on YouTube, an online domain that is currently under-represented in research on digital feminist social movements.