The mouth of the Internet, the eyes of the public: Sexual violence survivorship in an economy of visibility


By Nelanthi Hewa

Part I: Miller & Sulkowicz

On June 3, 2016, a court statement was published by BuzzFeed titled “Here’s the Powerful Statement the Stanford Victim Read to Her Attacker” (Baker, 2016). The story of the “Stanford victim,” who went by the pseudonym “Emily Doe,” had received widespread international attention, and news coverage was often criticized for focusing on the rapist’s swimming career and status as a Stanford undergraduate. Emily Doe’s statement swiftly went viral and in four days had 11 million views. Emily Doe published her memoir, Know My Name, in 2019; as a result, Googling “Emily Doe” identifies her as Chanel Miller, and Google’s first page of results is largely praise for the memoir, which was a New York Times bestseller in the U.S.

In 2014, Emma Sulkowicz received widespread international attention for her performance art piece, Mattress Performance (Carry that Weight). Sulkowicz carried a twin mattress around on campus at Columbia University, saying that she would put the mattress down when the student she said had raped her in 2012 was expelled or left the university. Sulkowicz became known as “Mattress Girl” (though Sulkowicz now identifies as non-binary) as her story gained further press. Sulkowicz’s accused rapist was cleared by the university—unlike Miller, Sulkowicz had not gone to the police. Google’s first page of results for “Emma Sulkowicz” includes the Wikipedia page for the “Columbia University rape controversy” as well as an article published on The Cut with the headline “Did Emma Sulkowicz Get Redpilled?” (McNamara, 2019).1 Googling “Mattress Girl,” unlike Emily Doe, does not equate her with Sulkowicz, and the results are largely pieces from right-wing outlets declaring that “Mattress Girl” has been “discredited.”

These stories are obviously similar in a number of ways: they are highly public, highly visible stories of sexual violence that, though localized in the United States, gained international recognition and visibility. Both Miller and Sulkowicz can be said to have “spoken out” and “told their stories,” though they received markedly different reactions. Though Miller and Sulkowicz both predate #MeToo, their stories are nevertheless both taken up in ways that mirror the public discourse that would come in 2017. Both were young students at two of the most prestigious universities in the country whose stories received widespread attention largely, though not exclusively, due to online news outlets and social media. Both also, I argue, illuminate the relationship between what Sarah Banet-Weiser (2018) has termed digital technoculture’s “economy of visibility” and sexual violence.

Part II: Enter(ing) the Machine

Image by Jess Mac (https://jessicamaccormackrmack.tumblr.com/). Used with permission of and payment to the artist. Visual description: A wide open mouth, replete with teeth and a bright pink tongue, moves rapidly towards the screen on a loop. The .gif only loops when the visual field is filled by its epiglottis, giving the viewer the distinct feeling of being swallowed.

From the moment you press “enter,” digital life and the Internet are replete with metaphors of space. From “cyberspace” and “windows” to the language of “entering” websites, we are directed when we go online to think of the Internet as a bounded space. Moreover, to go online is to be interpolated as an active and empowered Internet “user,” in control of the interface, situated within the screen, and moving actively through Internet “space” (White, 2014, p. 1). Yet one cannot enter the interface, delete unwanted search results, fully delete one’s data, or even know where, exactly, one’s data is going in these “leaky networks” (Chun, 2016). Once out there, we have very little control over how we are picked up and picked over. This is, we are told, the price of entry. After all, why balk if you have nothing to hide? Yet as scholars have increasingly argued, not all users are archived by the Internet’s algorithms of oppression (Noble, 2018) in the same way. The metaphor of (public) space employed by ICT companies, journalists, and Internet users alike is central to how we conceptualize and interact with the digital, yet it fundamentally papers over the realities of what it is to be online. In contrast to a public park or a bourgeois coffee shop, the Internet is capacious and eternal—or, at the very least, has a far longer memory than its users. To say that the Internet is large and contains multitudes is to understate its size and the ways that the past always threatens to emerge and become visible again.

While high-profile stories of sexual violence are hardly anything new, I argue that the digital affordances of the Internet that undergird the metaphor of the public space, as well as its economy of visibility, have meaningfully changed survivors’ experiences. Entwined in this metaphor of public space is an exhortation towards visibility: as scholars like Dean (2001), Banet-Weiser (2018) and others have explored, digital life relies on a demand to make oneself visible. Dean’s notion of “communicative capitalism” describes the ideology of “more information is always better” that enlivens modern-day capitalism and technoculture. As she argues, the demand to publicity drives communicative capitalism, as it is in the circulation of information and messages that ICT companies like Google and Twitter quite literally keep the lights on. Though Banet-Weiser does not cite Dean directly in her 2018 book Empowered, her analysis of the way that popular feminism relies on an attention economy of clicks, likes, and digital circulation—what she calls an economics of visibility—certainly speaks to much the same confluence of culture, technology, and capitalism as Dean. This is not to say that survivors themselves deliberately insert themselves in the politics of popular feminism, or even necessarily have a political agenda at all when they “go public.” Rather, I argue that stories of sexual violence in the media operate within the same capitalist system of visibility as the cultural objects Banet-Weiser studies. Her framework for analyzing the way that contemporary feminist concepts are repackaged and circulated as “popular feminism” is useful in thinking about how stories of sexual violence are likewise repacked, distributed, and made profitable. Again, and to be clear, in no way is this a condemnation of survivors for speaking out, going to the media, or otherwise telling their stories. Rather, this is about what happens after they speak.

Part III: Becoming Visible

Indeed, algorithms and search engines are fundamentally about visibility and meaning (Gillespie, 2017). The order of websites presented by search is after all not simply from first to last but also “from most visible to least” and, by extension, from most relevant to least (Gillespie, 2017, p. 75). Google’s search results for Miller and Sulkowicz are meaningful in that they demonstrate how their stories are read by users, functioning as what Safiya Noble has called an “archive of the self” (2018). Search engines and algorithms are powerful conferrers of relevance and meaning, but while the actors Gillespie examines are interested in turning themselves towards the machine and making themselves “algorithmically recognizable,” there are other forces involved in how algorithms see us. For Sulkowicz and Miller, as well as others, one of those forces is journalists, who have a vested financial interest in making themselves and their content algorithmically visible. Media outlets aim to become the algorithm, to confer visibility and meaning and, in return, receive eyeballs, clicks, and profits. As journalism scholars have explored, metrics and visibility play an increasingly important role in journalistic work, both at the level of labour and in the production of content (Bucher, 2018; Cohen, 2019; Petre, 2018). Thinking of media convergence as more than “simply a technological shift” (Jenkins, 2004, p. 34) or as one that is defined as much by technologies converging as it is industries and corporate interests (Mosco & McKercher, 2006), I argue that sexual violence reporting is a site where visibility, publicity, privacy, algorithms, and intelligibility all converge. As a result, I am interested in applying this framework to digital journalism, and specifically coverage of sexual violence, as the language of digital “space” is married to metaphors of “going public.” I explore how all of these metaphors—of public spaces, of going public, of being seen—are both prevalent and entirely inadequate for describing the realities of what it means to “go public.” I ask: what are the implications of the economies of visibility for sexual violence survivors who, intentionally or otherwise, find themselves written about by journalists? I argue that the metaphor of the public space is inadequate in describing the ways that the Internet and its platforms conceal as much (or as little) as they reveal. The Internet is both capacious and, simultaneously, narrows the scope of acceptable and believable stories of sexual violence survivorship. The digital public stage—one marked by visibility and the spotlight rather than the sense of openness that the metaphor of “public space” imparts— is not one that welcomes all people and all stories, even as it archives both too much and too little.

I am particularly interested in sexual violence survivors, journalism, and the Internet for a number of reasons. While the risks for sexual violence survivors “going public” are starker than they are for more mundane acts of speaking out, the lens of sexual violence works as an analytic push against common sense ideas of publicity and privacy mobilized by the metaphors of Internet life. The value of “going public” in journalism when it comes to sexual violence survivors has been largely unquestioned and taken as a given, much as the value of publicity and visibility more broadly have been largely unquestioned by journalists. While journalism scholarship has explored the ways the very analog practice of interviewing typifies the way journalism walks a fine line between publicizing the news for a public good and exposing personal secrets (Schudson, 1994), new journalistic ethics guidelines treat digital posts as public and as having no reasonable expectation of privacy (Canadian Association of Journalists, 2011). Ethics policies for journalists and academics alike encourage readers to act “like trolls – to take and use whatever and however they want from people’s social worlds online, or sex worlds or political worlds with no conversation, no consent, no accountability” (Cowan & Rault, 2018).

Part IV: Becoming Believable

Sexual violence complicates—or perhaps enlivens—Banet-Weiser’s framework of visibility and popular feminism because what sexual violence survivors are asked to make visible is unique from other instances of violence or feminist public speech. When survivors are exhorted to “go public,” what they are demanded to make public is not simply their experience of violence or trauma but their own selfhood and believability. The demand is for evidence, though evidence, in the case of sexual violence, is rarely evident. Indeed, the permanence of data online is often a double-edged sword for survivors: while survivors can share text messages and chat logs as proof of abusive behaviours, they can also be turned against survivors. “Post-incident contact” with accused assailants in the form of texts may be used as “proof” that survivors are lying, as was the case for Sulkowicz or, in Canada, the highly publicized trial against Jian Ghomeshi (Donovan, 2016). Survivors who lack evidence in the form of texts, chat logs, or emails may equally be accused of lying. Because survivors are often unable to make visible their lack of consent, it is survivors’ personhood and version of the facts that are debated as they are forced to run a “societal gauntlet of doubt, dismissal, or outright disbelief” (Epstein & Goodman, 2019). The only way for survivors to prove not simply their innocence but their lack of guilt—that is, that they are not lying—is to go always-more public, showing more and becoming hypervisible themselves in order to provide “proof.”

Stories of sexual violence, whether they are shared on social media or picked up by news media outlets, are also inseparable from the corporations and capitalist entities that control, shape, and own them, as the framework of the economy of visibility makes clear. These conditions have often been called “platform capitalism,” implying the emptying or flattening out of the content of meaning, emphasizing instead the endless traffic and circulation of this content (Banet-Weiser, 2016). These logics of visibility—composed of metrics, numbers, clicks, “likes,” etcetera—form the social, cultural, and economic conditions for popular feminism, though the consequences of these logics affect not just feminist movements but also social movements in general. The conditions of capitalism thus shape, if not determine, what is in the light and what remains in shadow—or more accurately, the shadow of condemnation (Banet-Weiser, 2016, p. 24). Platform capitalism and “platform feminism” (Singh & Sharma, 2018) describe the way that feminist movements—and individual acts of sexual violence survivorship—are taken up when they face the algorithm. Neoliberal feminism as expressed online becomes about singular people—what Rianka Singh and Sarah Sharma (2019) term the “uncommons”—rather than about structures of power or collective care. As they argue, the networked nature of feminist movements like #MeToo straighten and whiten what begin as collective movements for justice because they “privilege rising up”—that is, rising up above the crowd and so, as I stress, being visible—above other forms of resistance (Singh & Sharma, 2019, p. 303). This economy of visibility is one that, as Karina Karakuş (2018) has written, demands “total transparency.” In its perhaps more innocent forms, it is the demand upon everyday users for increased connectivity and participation in digital networks. However, for sexual violence survivors the demand is not simply to “break the silence” and take to the platform to speak about one’s experience but also to make oneself transparent (p. 367). This is the particular paradox at the heart of the “Internet as public space” metaphor, particularly as it relates to sexual violence: survivors are called to “rise up” and “speak out” in the visible platform of the Internet, with the logic that to be out and visible (forever) is good for survivors. However, ultimately standards of proof and believability have not changed and have actually become more restrictive and demanding.

Though the metaphor of the open public space pulls us to believe that to be out and visible forever is a good, even a necessity, for survivors, standards of proof and believability have hardly shifted to become more accommodating of the complexities of sexual violence. Rather, like the confessional videos Wendy Chun (2016) analyzes, sexual violence survivors’ success relies on a successful construction of a true victim, in which “all observable actions must be pathetic, transparent, and consistent” (p. 142). In the cavernous space-that-is-not-a-space of the Internet, one must be pathetic, transparent, and consistent for as long as one is visible to the algorithm. And in the case of sexual violence, one can rarely be transparent enough. Sexual violence stories’ online circulation illuminates the particularly insidious aspects of the visibility economy because stories of sexual violence all rest on a particular kind of evidence. Evidence of the crime is fundamentally entwined with evidence of the victim’s believability—their transparency—since these crimes, especially at the level of national coverage, are often taken as “he-said-she-said” stories. Research has also drawn out the relationship between the public and the private in sexual violence reporting, arguing that sexual violence has an “ambiguous position on the border of public and private” (Joyrich, 2019, p. 211). This is both because the violence enacted is simultaneously a public crime and an intimate experience of violence, and because it straddles a divide between what is happening “outside”—the physical reality of violence—and what is happening “inside”—among other things, those affective and psychological states that constitute a lack of consent. “Objective” journalism demands evidence: survivors of sexual violence are exhorted to provide evidence not only of their story but of themselves and their trustworthiness.

Part V: Becoming Invisible

Image by Jess Mac (https://jessicamaccormackrmack.tumblr.com/). Used with permission of and payment to the artist. Visual description: A bright pink donut with a pale green, slowly searching eye in the middle. It is, like the social networks Wendy Chun (2016) describes, “wonderfully creepy.”

 

As the example of Sulkowicz and her treatment in the media shows, her visibility can also be read as a kind of invisibility, as what was made visible is her failure to read as a “perfect victim” or follow the traditional script of victimhood, whether that is because she did not go to the police, because her assailant was cleared, or because of the nature of her highly visible and unapologetic performance art piece (or all of the above). The paradoxes of visibility are typified most famously by Time’s 2017 Person of the Year issue, the “Silence Breakers” (Zacharek, Dockterman, & Sweetland Edwards, 2017). Its cover notably did not include Tarana Burke, the Black woman who had coined the phrase “me too” in 2006, years before it was taken up and made public on Twitter. Time also did not ask who kept these women silent, or whether the issue is women “breaking their silence” or being believed; instead, combatting sexual violence and patriarchal forces more broadly are framed as an individual responsibility.

The logic of public visibility can also result in survivors being forced, unwillingly, into the spotlight, as the 2018 media frenzy over an allegation of Justin Trudeau groping a woman demonstrates. In 2000, an opinion article was published in a small newspaper in British Columbia, describing an incident of harassment between the anonymous writer and Justin Trudeau, at the time known only as the son of a past prime minister. In 2018, a tweet of the op-ed by a conservative pundit—we can note as well that the tweet was evidently for political reasons and had little interest in the wishes or feelings of the writer herself—linking it to the #MeToo movement went viral. The orientation of digital media towards openness and disclosure is immediately and starkly evident in the ensuing flurry. As days pass and the unnamed writer refuses to go on the record, her refusal to leak became by extension proof of her deceit. The writer’s silence, her opacity, was taken as a sign of shame and duplicity. Public treatment of survivors is thus a mirror or reversal of Édouard Glissant’s call, in another context, for solidarity across (cultural, in his case) boundaries (1997). While Glissant valorizes opacity without reproach, survivors and accusers face a paradoxical kind of transparency: although Trudeau’s accuser might seem to be at the centre of the controversy, she and her wishes were in many ways made invisible even as her writing was used against her as proof that she should speak more. Finally, she was tracked down. Her name was printed. She became public, though only to say that she did not wish to be public (Tasker & Laventure, 2018). This final disclosure, however, was nonetheless a failure because it was too slow. By the logic of public visibility, once you have refused to go public, any future step into the spotlight is read as reluctant and thus not satisfactorily transparent.

While Miller’s story might seem to stand in sharp contrast in many ways, it also reveals the ways that relying too heavily on the notion that survivors who choose to go public are treated entirely differently than survivors who do not is untenable. While reception of sexual violence survivors is never fully positive, it is clear that Miller has much of the public’s sympathy. Her anonymous BuzzFeed piece was a powerful statement against her rapist that received widespread public approval, particularly since coverage of her rapist, which emphasized his swimming career, was met with equally widespread anger and justified criticism. Her book, Say My Name, is when she went from “Emily Doe” to her own name, and the first page of Google search results for Miller show news pieces on her “political survivorship” (St. Félix, 2019), how she “took her story back” (PBS NewsHour, 2019), how she was awarded Woman of the Year, as well as her own website (chanelmiller.com), which mainly speaks about her book as well as resources for other sexual violence survivors. Part of “taking back her story” has been, in many ways, to rewrite the algorithm: to type in “Emily Doe” is to be shown “Chanel Miller—American writer.” The release of her book has been undoubtedly a deliberate rewriting of the algorithm.

However, this course of action—up to and including releasing a bestselling memoir—is not a course of action available for everyone. For most survivors, the algorithm is frequently an enemy that is difficult to hack. Tara Reade, who has accused U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden of sexual assault, has spoken of the difficulty of doing freelance work when people could Google her and find “all kinds of weird things” about her (Halper, 2020). While Miller’s story can read as a success story—and it is—it is also exceptional in all senses of the word. Indeed, it is important to remember that Chanel Miller’s case is incredibly atypical: according to RAINN’s website, only 230 out of 1000 sexual assaults in the United States are reported to police. Only 5 of those 1000 sexual assaults lead to a conviction. Regardless of whether she is telling the truth (though for the record I believe she was), Sulkowicz’s story—when she did not go to the police, when the perpetrator was found innocent—is far more typical. The fact that “Mattress Girl” is linked algorithmically to either redpilling and condemning #MeToo or being “discredited,” or that survivors who retract their story, misremember details, or do not go to the police are viewed with suspicion, is emblematic of how the economy of visibility functions. Though Sulkowicz’s case is unusual too—most sexual assault survivors do not gain international press coverage, either about the attack or the many vehicles of survivorship they undertake afterwards—the details of the attack are far more typical, and Google searches of Sulkowicz and “Mattress Girl,” as described in the opening of this paper, returns to the user a story of “controversy,” “discrediting,” and redpilling. This is not to say that Sulkowicz, like Miller, has not spoken back to the algorithm (though again, it is crucial to remember that most survivors neither write memoirs nor make art pieces that receive widespread attention). Sulkowicz’s case and indeed her performance art pieces, particularly her online video art piece entitled Ceci n’est pas un viol (“This is not a rape,” a play on Magritte’s famous painting “The Treachery of Images” in which Sulkowicz reenacts what appears as a rape) all challenge economies of visibility by being difficult to watch or repackage for widespread consumption. Andrea Long Chu (2017) has written that Sulkowicz’s art pieces critique “the propensity of popular social media to erase narratives that appear ‘ugly,’ unsightly, unpopular, and harmful to corporate branding efforts … from the space of public discourse” (p. 371), speaking in many ways to the untenable relationship between journalistic desires to uncover truths for the public good, to tell the stories of survivors who have “broken their silence” and the visibility economy these stories are marketed in. The public space in which stories of sexual violence and survivorship travel is not the neutral space of a meeting square of coffee-house but the eternal, infinite, and (often) intensely misogynist space of the Internet. As a result, the capaciousness of the Internet in fact forecloses possibility rather than giving space for all stories, however complicated and messy. Instead, the visibility economy of digital space, in which everything is treated as public and visible forever, has only intensified the reality that those stories that are unaggressive and brand friendly are embraced. This economy of visibility does not welcome all survivors, all messy and shameless stories. Rather, it will only be (barely) tolerable for those perfect victims who find sympathy.

Part VI: Public, and Not for Public Use

Increasingly, scholars have pointed to the dangers of treating published information as public, particularly as they pertain to sensitive information and marginalized communities. The metaphor of the public space has encouraged journalists and scholars alike to treat online published materials as “up for grabs,” whatever the wishes of the writers and users involved (Cowan & Rault, 2018). Information that was not meant for a widespread audience, like an editorial from 2000 or even one’s life and writing before one goes public with a sexual violence allegation, faces new dangers when it is brought to the light of the capacious maw of the Internet. As Noble (2018) explores, becoming seen by the machine brings out its risks: projects like the lesbian porn collection On Our Backs were created in a pre-Internet age, and the contributors had no way of knowing that a digitization techno-economy would ever come to be (p. 131). Journalists have certainly played a part as well: as Tara Robertson (2016) has said when relating her reaction to finding out a reporter had attended one of her talks in which she had spoken for the first time about having done sex work, there is a difference when you are made “searchable,” or when you are forced to face the algorithm without your consent. Golden and Judge have argued for the Centre for Solutions to Online Violence (2016) that journalistic standards have yet to take into account the dangers of bringing information that is “nominally public and not for public use” into the public eye. Journalists who republish tweets from sexual violence survivors for their larger, more general, and often more hostile to women audiences without blurring the Twitter handles may unwittingly expose users to doxing, harassment, and threats of violence, none of which should be treated as simply the price of entry to the public sphere. Indeed, the metaphor of the public space and its attendant economy of visibility distorts the way that users often write quite intentionally for their intimate publics, often their followers or fellow members of an Internet community. Rarely do users write for “anyone”—including trolls, misogynists, and those who truly are “redpilled.”

Though some of the sexual violence survivors discussed in this paper went to the media of their own volition, they are no safer than those whose words are reposted or republished without their consent. The economies of visibility that undergird both mainstream media and Internet culture more broadly nevertheless demanded more visibility, more exposure—but always of the right kind. Indeed, visibility is treated as an end in and of itself in sexual violence survivorship too because being “out”—and “out” to the infinite and eternal public of the Internet, not solely one’s intimate public—is treated as the only barrier to justice, in effect demanding that sexual violence survivors come out into the public eye only to privatize sexual violence as an individual problem. Radhika Gajjala (2019) has argued that Western feminists often privilege the public sphere as the space of free discussion and where matters of the home are exposed to the sunlight and cleansed—particularly in matters of sexual violence. This ideological commitment to the public sphere has in many ways only intensified, and as I’ve argued can be seen in the metaphorical and epistemological commitments many hold towards the Internet. For all that there is a nominal call for the increased visibility of sexual violence survivors, their stories are often concealed rather than revealed. As I’ve argued, even those survivors who choose to go public are in no safer a position. If metaphors are a “descriptive technology” (Haraway in Penley and Ross, 1990, p. 10), then the metaphor of the public space is one that mobilizes us to think of the Internet as a park or coffee-house, rather than a capacious and nominally eternal one, undergirded by technologies that demand and profit from our visibility.  This is not to say that survivors should not go public or that journalists should not cover these stories; rather, it is to recognize that it is unrealistic and even dangerous to act as though nothing significant has changed, or that demands to be exposed, not just once but forever, do not have material and uneven consequences.

Conclusion: Being Heard

Further, this model of ever-growing exposure is ultimately exclusionary, as it is only available to those who might be able to live up to the myth of the perfect victim; for others, there are accusations of being “redpilled” or “liars” or taking too long to speak. In an economy of visibility, the aim is to make survivors visible. Despite the plethora of both visibility and audibility metaphors that run through discourses of sexual violence, the examples explored above demonstrate that there is a meaningful difference between being heard and being seen. Being heard might be the same as being believed, or at the very least, being listened to in a compassionate way. In the context of sexual violence reporting, being visible is too often about having one’s body and/or self on display. Survivor-designed media like the Tumblr account I Never ‘Ask’ for It resist the economy of visibility by displaying the clothes people were wearing when they experienced sexual violence or intimidation without the bodies that wore them. The images thus make visible the only thing that needs to be made visible—that whatever a person is wearing, they are not asking to be harassed and attacked and don’t deserve it—while keeping opaque all other irrelevant details. Thinking again of Glissant’s (1997) call for compassionate opacity, media and journalists who are committed to anti-violence might ask: what is it in the case of sexual violence that should be made transparent? Should the burden of proof and believability be forced on survivors, or should their capacity for self-determination and their needs be prioritized and heard? Should the minute details of a person’s life be laid bare, or should the focus be on sexual violence as a political issue with roots in systemic oppression more broadly? While transparency remains a core principle of journalism, in the case of sexual violence media must resist feeding an economy that demands visibility but is often less interested in listening.

In a similar vein, I argue that the public space-qua-stage may be more fruitfully imagined as not one cavernous open area but rather as one composed of open windows and doors left ajar. From semi-private communities to pseudonymized Tumblr accounts, users rarely imagine that the conversations held in their insular and intimate communities will be brought out for everyone, forever. Reimagining life on the Internet as one in which it may be quite easy to eavesdrop, but still possible and productive not to, may foster a culture of listening rather than simply looking (or lurking). While we work towards an Internet that both fore-gives (Chun, 2016) and forgets (Sutherland, 2017), it is worth grappling with how the metaphor of the public space acts as a barrier and not a panacea to true safety and openness. The aim should not be for more survivors to speak up but for sexual violence to end. But the latter cannot be achieved if only those who are seen, understood, and marketed by the algorithm are welcomed.

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Nelanthi Hewa is a journalism student turned student of journalism. She is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information.

  1. “Redpilling” is a term largely used by misogynists and alt-right groups online to describe “waking up” to the truth that they are oppressed by liberals and feminists. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the eventual answer to this headline is ‘no.’