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Is #MeToo part of a wider cultural shift?

Associate Professor Sue Jackson from Victoria University of Wellington will lead a team to examine how rangatahi young people in Aotearoa make sense of online discussions about sexual harassment and gender inequality


Published on 5 November 2019  

Could #MeToo trigger a cultural shift around sexual harassment? While feminist activism against sexual harassment is not new, the impact of the recent #MeToo movement on public and media conversations has been huge. It provides a key cultural moment from which to explore rangatahi understandings of gender relations, gender inequality and sexual harassment today. Rangatahi are high users of social media. These platforms play a significant role in shaping their understandings and negotiation of gender and sexuality and may potentially shape their understandings of sexual harassment.  

Associate Professor Sue Jackson and her team have been awarded a Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden grant to examine how rangatahi in Aotearoa learn about, engage with and react to debates about gender and sexual harassment in social media. How do they understand this content, what do they feel about it, and how do they respond to it in their everyday lives? Learning about how boys respond is particularly important because lack of understanding and knowledge about gender equality directly relates to support for violence against wāhine women. There is some research with mostly white, middle class, young feminists about the use of social media to resist sexual harassment but research with boys and young men and minority groups is absent. The team will investigate with diverse groups of rangatahi the sexual harassment media stories they see in their social media accounts, and how these affect them.

This is a timely project that promises to open up new understandings about ways sexual harassment media inform rangatahi views on gender relations and contribute to identifying strategies for assisting rangatahi to challenge inequitable gender and sexuality norms.