The #MeToo movement has demonstrated the power of using social media in activism. As hashtags flooded social media pages, survivors from all over the country went public with their personal experiences of abuse from powerful people. Personal narratives have always driven social justice. By contrast, research into SVSH has focused on quantitative data obtained from surveys and incident reports.
This raises two interesting questions. One is whether the people providing the information are representative of those impacted by SVSH, or whether it is a skewed sample. Volunteered narratives on social media are generally produced by people who have access to technology and, due to societal position or the passage of time, have capacity to provide their stories. This corpus of narratives intrinsically omits many marginalized populations, including those disproportionately impacted by sexual violence.
The other question is whether the kinds of information being provided offer a complete picture, even for those individuals who are more thoroughly representedfor example, undergraduate populations on college campuses. Narratives are challenging to generalize from in a era where people expect hard facts, statistics, and p values. But surveys inevitably obtain information out of context, which is problematic given that sexual violence is a subjective, context-dependent experience. It is necessary to have a multilayered picture of the conditions allowing sexual violence to occur in order to identify interpersonal and institutional solutions.
The discussion will focus on the limits of what can be learned about sexual violence and harassment from personal narratives that are shared online, as well as the question of is missed in survey data related to sexual violence and harassment.
- Laura Nelson (Moderator) - Professor, Gender and Womens Studies
- Edward Wasserman - Dean, Graduate School of Journalism
- Lisa García Bedolla - Professor, Graduate School of Education
- Aya de Leon - Lecturer, African American Studies; Director, Poetry for the People
- Billy Curtis - Director of Gender Equity Resource Center