To be Heard through the #MeToo backlash

Soundings - ISSN 1362-6620
Volume 2023 Number 83

To be Heard through the #MeToo backlash
Sabrina Moro, Giuseppina Sapio, Charlotte Buisson, Noémie Trovato, Zoé Duchamp pages 90-101
DOI: 10.3898/SOUN.83.06.2023


The Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial constitutes what Sarah Banet-Weiser (2018) calls a ‘feminist flashpoint’: it has become a media event that facilitates and shapes discourses around gender-based violence in the public sphere. The cultural significance of the social media commentaries on the trial is threefold. First, the sheer volume of media traffic turns sexual violence into a media spectacle. Second, commentary featured discussion of domestic violence and situated it within the legacies of #MeToo. Thirdly, the stark divide between Depp and Heard supporters reveals shifts in cultural understandings of sexual violence since #MeToo but also a backlash against the movement. Cultural understandings of gender-based violence and feminism, popularised by #MeToo, are acknowledged, but the same digital tools that enable online feminist activism are mobilised in the backlash. The authors explore the re-activation of the myth of the ‘ideal victim’; Heard’s resistance to dominant representations of the passive victim; and the ‘memeification’ of Heard (Valenti 2022) as a form of gendered surveillance and policing. The trial exemplifies a new iteration of postfeminism, one that acknowledges the cultural and political significance of #MeToo yet upholds the same rape myths that were previously criticised.

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To cite this article
Sabrina Moro, Giuseppina Sapio, Charlotte Buisson, Noémie Trovato, Zoé Duchamp (2023) To be Heard through the #MeToo backlash, Soundings, 2023(83), 90-101.

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