Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





Experience Labelling, #MeToo, Rape Acknowledgement, Rape Culture, Sexual Coercion, Sexual Violence


Fritz, P. Timmons




Sexual violence perpetrated by men against women is a pervasive social issue that affects women around the world. Sexual violence has taken place in what has been termed “rape culture,” or a culture in which sexual violence is normalized, minimized, or tacitly condoned. In October 2017, #MeToo gained global attention when numerous women began sharing experiences of male perpetrated sexual violence via social media. The recent attention given to issues of sexual violence has included little discussion about the issues facing women who have not acknowledged, or women who report male perpetrated coercive experiences that fall within the legal definition of rape, but who do not identify a perpetrator’s actions as “rape” or “sexual assault.” The present study recruited women ages 18 years and older who reported an experience meeting the legal definition of rape or sexual assault but who did not identify with those labels. This study used qualitative methods to explore the impact of #MeToo from the perspective of women who have not acknowledged. Themes derived in the present study suggested that #MeToo raised participants’ awareness that unwanted and/or coercive sexual experiences are “not unique” and that survivors are “not alone,” encouraged openness about survivors’ experiences, and validated that these experiences are problematic. Contradictions were also found across participants’ writing. Overall, #MeToo was described as having a positive emotional impact for women participating in this study without necessarily changing their own ambivalence or the external beliefs of those close to them.