Fetch the Bolt Cutters: The Existential Labor and Liberation of #MeToo

Rachel E. Williamson, Emily P. Courtney, Jamie L. Goldenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The MeToo movement saturated popular discourse with reminders of the ubiquity of sexual aggression and harassment targeting women and, by extension, the heightened literal and symbolic vulnerability of inhabiting a female-coded body. The movement also provides opportunities for accessing social connections and collective identity, reclaiming a sense of agency, and pursuing meaningful change. We argue that both the threatening and affirming aspects of MeToo have inherent existential implications that warrant theoretical and empirical exploration. To begin this line of inquiry, we first map aspects of the MeToo movement to five major existential concerns (death, isolation, identity, freedom, and meaning), delineating the existentially activating and ameliorating potential of the movement. Adapting paradigms used in terror management theory research, we then present experimental avenues for testing each of these hypothesized connections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-459
Number of pages17
JournalHumanistic Psychologist
Volume50
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • #metoo
  • Existential psychology
  • Gender-based violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Terror management theory

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