Social media’s impact on rape myth acceptance and distress in women

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Faith Nomamiukor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Blair Wisco

Abstract: Social media campaigns like #MeToo are used to challenge rape myth acceptance (RMA). However, there is little research on whether these campaigns reduce RMA or if they are distressing for women, especially sexual trauma survivors. This study seeks to understand how the #MeToo movement and backlash against it (#HimToo) affect survivors’ and controls’ RMA and distress. We randomly assigned college women (N=389) to one of three social media conditions that either promoted RMA (#HimToo), challenged RMA (#MeToo), or did not address rape myths (General Social Media (GSM)). We predicted a significant interaction between condition and survivor status, such that survivors would have greater distress than controls, especially in the #HimToo condition. We also expected a main effect of condition on RMA, such that RMA would be highest in the #HimToo condition. Our hypotheses were partially supported—we found that condition predicted RMA in the expected direction. We also found that controls reported higher RMA and less distress than survivors. Additionally, we found that women in the #MeToo and GSM conditions reported significantly lower distress following social media exposure, but distress did not change from pre to post assessment in the #HimToo condition. Results highlight that the way we talk about rape has implications for momentary distress and RMA. Future work should examine longitudinal effects of #MeToo exposure on long-term distress and RMA.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
#HimToo, #MeToo, Distress, Rape myth acceptance, Sexual assault, Social media
Rape $x Public opinion
Social media
Rape $x Psychological aspects
Distress (Psychology)
Rape victims

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