Journal of Communication Inquiry

Torment Porn or Feminist Witch Hunt: Apprehensions about the #MeToo Movement on /r/AskReddit

by Candice Lanius (2019)

This article argues that #MeToo posts are transgressive and can be understood as a case of confessional discourse that has the potential to empower women around the world rather than in spiring shame. Due to its public nature, #MeToo also challenges existing frameworks for understanding sexual relationships in the United States. This critical discourse analysis of the response to the #MeToo movement over 9 months (2017–2018) on the Reddit community AskReddit surfaced fears about how the movement is redefining normal sexual behavior. By in ventorying the knowledge claims produced across four question and answer comment threads, important shifts in subject positions and discursive frames show that under the guise of in clusive rhetoric and expert discourse, many Reddit respondents fear their past behavior will be reconstituted as abusive. Rape myths also appeared in the discourse as a backlash against the #MeToo movement.

#MeToo, Reddit, critical discourse analysis, confessional discourse, backlash.

Theorizing #MeToo as Confessional Discourse
Early Responses: Emotion and Definitions
Fear of Consequences
Subject Positions
Declaration of Conflicting Interests

- Candice Lanius is an Assistant Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Alabama in Huntsville where she teaches user experience, public relations, and public speaking. Her research interests in clude digital rhetoric, rhetoric of science, and argumentation theory.

(Corresponding Author: Candice Lanius, Communication Arts Department, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, 301 Sparkman Dr. NW, Huntsville, AL 35899, USA. Email:


Lanius, Candice
Torment Porn or Feminist Witch Hunt: Apprehensions about the #MeToo Movement on /r/AskReddit.
In: Journal of Communication Inquiry 43,4 (Oct 2019), pp. 415-436.