The Consciousness-Raising of #MeToo: Mobilizing Political Empathy in the Digital Age
thesisposted on 23.05.2021, 12:26 by Allana Graham
The lasting effect of #MeToo’s suggests that we are at a critical moment in the study of communications and media studies. This MRP will be speculative in nature, however, it is my contribution that we must move beyond literature that defends “slacktivism” and the notion that digital mediation is an impoverished form of communication (McCafferty, 2011; Baym, 2017), and instead build upon emerging frameworks that focus on the affordances of the social media age in activism theory by integrating rationality from offline, or “real life”, areas of literature. In the case of #MeToo, the personalization of politics and mobilizing structures share logic with feminism practices that predate the digital age. This indicates that perhaps an effective way to make meaning out of new and complex phenomena like #MeToo is not diminish the human element, but rather acknowledge it as an integral part of online protest. Building on this assumption, this MRP is a commentary that considers the complexity of the events that brought #MeToo to fruition. I will evaluate #MeToo using emerging literature at the intersections of activism and social media, while contextualizing both the viral moment and the continued movement within feminist theory that is grounded in visceral emotions like vulnerability, anger, empathy, solidarity, and catharsis. Combining both literature that focuses on the technological and human elements should be considered in future research in order to develop theoretical frameworks that create a more holistic understanding of the cultural events that occur due to activism in the digital age.