Not just a joke : rape culture in Internet memes about #MeToo

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis provides a critical account of the discursive construction of sexual violence in humorous Internet memes about #MeToo. Applying an interdisciplinary lens, the thesis combines feminist scholarship on discourse, affect, humour, rape culture and online misogyny in order to provide a contribution to the field of feminist digital media studies.I employ a case study approach to my data set of 866 Internet memes collected from three social media platforms, 9gag, Reddit and Imgur, between October and December 2017 using the four search terms: #MeToo, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K.Applying discourse analysis to Internet memes generated by these specific search terms enables me to investigate how sexual violence is portrayed in different ways depending on who the perpetrators and the victims are. The three social media platforms have been chosen as they encourage users to upload humorous content enabling me to investigate how humorous content constructs sexual violence in specific ways. The thesis demonstrates how certain notions about gender and sexuality are discursively reproduced in online spaces that privilege heterosexual men and exclude women and homosexual men.The thesis aims to contribute to existing research in feminist media studies by investigating the backlash against #MeToo on specifically humorous discursive spaces thus gaining insight into how sexual violence is discursively constructed in spaces that otherwise might often be overlooked and disregarded as meaningless and harmless. By taking humour seriously the thesis contends this 'just-a-joke' discourse.
Date of Award8 Apr 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorKaren Boyle (Supervisor) & Elspeth Jajdelska (Supervisor)

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