Defining Sexual Misconduct
Power, Media, and #MeToo
Hardcover : 9780889778702, 368 pages, May 2022
Defining Sexual Misconduct investigates shifts in media coverage of sexual violence and details significant changes in public discourse about sexual harm.
In 2015, the New York Times ran just a single headline with the term “sexual misconduct. ” Three years later, it ran dozens of such headlines, averaging more than one per week, and expanded coverage across other media organizations followed. This shift in coverage is reflective of significant changes in public discourse about sexual harm helping to hold some perpetrators accountable for their behaviour and paved the path for #MeToo and related movements against sexual abuse and harm to receive national and global attention.
In Defining Sexual Misconduct, Stacey Hannem and Christopher Schneider trace contemporary shifts in power in relation to the increased recognition and censure of sexual misconduct and the ways in which the shifting social landscape is communicated in the coverage of sexual misconduct in media.
Hannem and Schneider also examine the contemporary dynamics of public accusations and their relationship to more formal criminal justice processes, as well as the implications for the stigmatization of alleged abusers and public response to alleged victims. Since behaviours categorized as sexual misconduct may not all be defined as crimes, or punishable through legal means, social censure and cancel culture often stand as proxy forms of punishment, and the authors reflect on what the pursuit of justice might look like in this extra-legal context.
“A serious advance . . . in research. This is the first book I have seen tracing media development of the term, ‘sexual misconduct’ . . . It's timely and important. " —Tracy Everbach, co-author of Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology and Harassment
“The analysis of the complexity of agency and responsabilization is brilliant. " —Ummni Khan, author of Vicarious Kinks: Sadomasochism in the Socio-Legal Imaginary