Brave women sound the alarm – representations of men and women in the Swedish media coverage of #MeToo

  • Lisa Lindqvist Karlstad University
  • Hillevi Ganetz Stockholm University
Keywords: #MeToo, Sweden, media, discourse analysis, representations, sexual harassment

Abstract

In autumn 2017 in Sweden, the #MeToo movement and sexual assault became a focus of broad debate. Swedish media coverage of the movement was centred around the many petitions made by anonymous groups of women to illuminate the extent of the problem of sexual assault, as well as a few cases of accusations against well-known and powerful men in both the culture and media industries. In order to elicit common representations of men and their female accusers, this study applies critical discourse analysis (CDA) to news media coverage and Facebook comments of three of those accused men: TV personality Martin Timell, journalist Fredrik Virtanen and culture personality Jean-Claude Arnault. The results indicate that representations of women as both witnesses and heroines work to reinforce notions of female responsibility as a means to halt sexual assault, while representations of men as sexual predators build on demarcations of illegal and mere misogynistic or “bad” behaviour, which in turn reinforce notions of male victimhood. These representations point to legal discourse as hegemonic, as it seems to limit the discussion and only present individual solutions, such as women bearing witness, to the structural problem of sexual assault. Simultaneously, the results indicate that the #MeToo movement and other feminist discourse have also had an effect on news media representations of sexual assault by broadening the concept beyond the consent/rape dichotomy.

Published
2020-12-17
How to Cite
Lindqvist, L., & Ganetz, H. (2020). Brave women sound the alarm – representations of men and women in the Swedish media coverage of #MeToo. Journalistica, 14(1), 14-46. https://doi.org/10.7146/journalistica.v14i1.123510