From Victim to Perpetrator : A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Swedish News Media in the Wake of MeToo
Sammanfattning: Four years after the Swedish MeToo-movement, ten women who publicly accused men of sexual violence have been convicted of the crime defamation. Framed as realizing questions of truth, sexual violence and the roles victim and perpetrator, the convictions have caused an extensive and polarized debate in Swedish news media. Based on a data-sample of newspaper articles from four of the major daily newspapers in Sweden, this study uses feminist critical discourse analysis to study the news media coverage of these defamation cases with the aim of investigating if patriarchal structures are reproduced in Swedish news media discourse on defamation in the wake of MeToo. The results show that patriarchal structures are in fact being reproduced – in three main ways. First of all, patriarchal structures are reproduced through the construction of truth as a subjective, internal and individual reality that gives men as a group an interpretative prerogative and privilege in making truth-claims, compared to women. Secondly, patriarchal structures are reproduced through the construction of sexual violence as a subjective experience rather than a fact. Men’s sexual violence towards women is depoliticized and de-gendered, rendering the gendered asymmetry of the violence invisible. Thirdly, patriarchal structures are reproduced through assigned roles of victim and perpetrator. Women who testify about rape are constructed as perpetrators of defamation rather than as victims of rape, while men are constructed as victims of defamation rather than as perpetrators of rape. The credibility of women who testify about rape is questioned as well as their legitimacy as victims of sexual violence. To conclude, the study shows that the news media discourse on defamation in the wake of MeToo reproduce patriarchal structures as it contributes to a systematic privileging of men as a group, and to a systematic disadvantaging of women as a group.
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