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Ruined lives: mediated white male victimhood

Banet-Weiser, Sarah (2021) Ruined lives: mediated white male victimhood. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 24 (1). 60 - 80. ISSN 1367-5494

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1367549420985840


When the hashtag #metoo began to circulate in digital and social media, it challenged a familiar interpretation of those who are raped or sexually harassed as victims, positioning women as embodied agents. Yet, almost exactly a year after the #metoo movement shot to visible prominence, a different, though eerily similar, story began to circulate on the same multi-media platforms as #metoo: a story about white male victimhood. Powerful men in positions of privilege (almost always white) began to take up the mantle of victimhood as their own, often claiming to be victims of false accusations of sexual harassment and assault by women. Through the analysis of five public statements by highly visible, powerful men who have been accused of sexual violence, I argue that the discourse of victimhood is appropriated not by those who have historically suffered but by those in positions of patriarchal power. Almost all of the statements contain some sentiment about how the accusation (occasionally acknowledging the actual violence) ‘ruined their life’, and all of the statements analyzed here center the author, the accused white man, as the key subject in peril and the authors position themselves as truth-tellers about the incidents. These statements underscore certain shifts in the public perception of sexual violence; the very success of the #metoo movement in shifting the narrative has meant that men have had to defend themselves more explicitly in public. In order to wrestle back a hegemonic gender stability, these men take on the mantle of victimhood themselves.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2020 16:24
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:05

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