Editors Dr Bianca Fileborn and Dr Rachel Loney-Howes with their new book on the #MeToo movement. Photo: Paul Jones
Dr Bianca Fileborn and Dr Rachel Loney-Howes, who co-edited the book #MeToo and the Politics of Social Change. Photo: Paul Jones

New book shines a light on the social, cultural impact of #MeToo

New book shines a light on the social, cultural impact of #MeToo

UOW researcher explores implications of global movement in co-edited anthology

A new book co-edited by a University of Wollongong (UOW) digital media academic has cast the spotlight on the aftermath of #MeToo, two years after the movement roiled industries across the world.

Dr Rachel Loney-Howes, a criminology scholar who specialises in researching gender-based violence, edited #MeToo and the Politics of Social Change alongside Dr Bianca Fileborn, from the University of Melbourne.

They both also contributed a chapter to the anthology, which was published this month by Palgrave Macmillan, and brings together international and Australian academics, activists and practitioners from the fields of media, criminology, film studies, gender and queer studies and the law.

Dr Loney-Howes said the #MeToo movement, which had actually begun a number of years ago but went into overdrive in October 2017 after a series of high-profile men were the subject of sexual harassment and assault allegations, came at a precipitous moment.

Within 24 hours of the allegations against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, more than 12 million sexual harassment and assault survivors around the world had used the hashtag #MeToo.

It was only two weeks after Dr Loney-Howes had turned in her PhD, which focused on anti-sexual violence activism in the digital media space.

It gave Dr Loney-Howes and Dr Fileborn the impetus they needed to explore the subject in depth. Two years later, stories of the alleged behavior of powerful men continue to be broken in the media.

Dr Loney-Howes said the anthology encompasses the many viewpoints that intersect with #MeToo and the repercussions on the social, political, and media landscape.

“We wanted to have a dialogue with activists, with people working on the ground, and start a conversation,” Dr Loney-Howes said.

“The book provides the historical context, it looks at the history of activism and conscious-raising. It examines #MeToo in the context of women of colour, the LGBTQ community, and also the role of the media and the impact of masculinity.

“It looks at #MeToo as an opportunity to change the parameters around what we think and know, and what we label sexual violence to be.”

Dr Loney-Howes said the book looks at #MeToo as a media phenomenon and social movement, which has had a far-reaching and enduring legacy.

“The final question of the book, which was inspired by #MeToo founder Tarana Bourke, is ‘where to from here?’”

#MeToo and the Politics of Social Change was launched on Tuesday 15 October at the University of Wollongong.

It followed a ‘Doing Feminisms’ roundtable discussion, held by UOW’s Feminist Research Network, into what it means to be a feminist in contemporary society.