The MeToo movement, which sought to combat sexual violence, evolved into a partisan problem, where support for or against the movement fell across party lines. This polarization negatively impacted the progress of the MeToo movement, fitting the larger pattern of increasing polarization in the United States. My thesis seeks to understand the politicized nature of sexual violence and to explore what language and themes are drawn on to politicize conversations around sexual violence by using the MeToo movement as a case study. My thesis found that the political polarization of sexual violence increased during the MeToo movement (and especially during and after the Kavanaugh hearing) primarily through detractors' language and framing of the issue. #MeToo detractors employed legalistic, violent, and misogynistic language to victimize the accused and villainize victims and supporters. In contrast, #MeToo supporters consistently used legalistic language to advocate for survivors' rights to state support in the face of actual violence. Insight on these politicizing discourses reveals a need for Democrats and Republicans to take on #MeToo policy reforms that both address due process and human rights while refraining from a victim/villain dichotomy.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Sociology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Shoaf, Hannah, "Witches, Victims, and Villains: #MeToo and the Political Polarization of Sexual Violence" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9473.
sexual violence, #MeToo, polarization, politicization