Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Title

Women's Accounts of Their Experiences with the #MeToo Movement

Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Catherine Stein (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Thomas Mowen (Other)

Third Advisor

Dale Klopfer (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Carolyn Tompsett (Committee Member)

Abstract

Although the collective power of women’s voices was a driving force behind the #MeToo Movement, women’s accounts are strikingly absent from systematic studies about the movement’s impact to date. The present qualitative study examined women’s motivations and experiences participating in the #MeToo Movement. Twelve women who reported that they had directly experienced sexual violence and who posted about these incidents using the #MeToo hashtag on social media completed semi-structured interviews. Content analysis of their accounts yielded six overarching themes that characterized: 1) women’s motivations to post on social media, 2) the content of their posts and 3) other users’ responses, 4) personal-level impacts of posting, 5) societal-level impacts of the movement, and their 6) perceptions of #MeToo’s impacts on men. Women discussed their desire to express their thoughts, feelings, and stories about sexual violence and to offer support and validation to other survivors as motivations for posting their #MeToo posts. The content of their posts included details about their sexual violence experiences, statements directed towards others (e.g., offering support, calling out sexism), and general social justice commentary. Most women acknowledged feeling worried that they would receive negative responses to their posts, although less than half of participants indicated they received posts that expressed disbelief, insults, or threats from others. Positive impacts discussed by women included a personal sense of empowerment and opportunities to process their experiences. Most women also described emotional toll as a negative impact of their #MeToo posts. At the societal levels, participants identified women’s empowerment, increased awareness of sexual violence, and a public dialogue about sexual violence as positive impacts. Women described false accusations and disbelievers as negative societal impacts of posting using #MeToo. These women’s accounts included a discussion of ways that the #MeToo Movement has positively and negatively impacted men in society. The present research is among the first studies to examine the #MeToo Movement directly through the accounts of women participants themselves. Implications of findings are discussed that include the ability for digitally mediated social advocacy to enable meaningful social dialogue and facilitate positive social change.

Share

COinS