Gossip as a Site of Resistance: Information-Sharing Strategies Among Survivors of Sexual Violence
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How do survivors pursue healing justice in a world increasingly dominated by digital - and social - media? This research paper focuses on survivors' responses to healing from sexual violence as mitigated through zines, gossip, callout culture, and social media, as enabled by and through digital media.
Gossip has been utilized as a communication practice among the most marginalized communities and peoples across society: women, people of color, queer and transgender folks, as well as survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence. Gossip is traditionally understood as spreading rumors, witch-hunting, creating drama, or otherwise attention-seeking and generally negative behaviors (with a gendered and feminized slant). Yet when we are actively and historically excluded from traditional information institutions, such as the media, our education system, and political sphere, it can become one of our only and last resorts for not only resistance – but sharing life-saving information with each other.
The experiences, knowledges, and works of marginalized peoples are trivialized. Feminized labor, such as gossip and rumor, is marked as trivial, insignificant, and superficial at best, and malicious, attention-seeking, and slanderous at its worst. In the digital era and age of social media, we cannot afford to downplay the importance, relevance, and power of gossip. Survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence have used gossip as a tool of resistance to share their experiences, seek support, build community, warn others, and demand justice and accountability from their rapists and abusers. This paper seeks to examine the potential of gossip as a site of resistance for survivors of sexual violence and as a tactic to challenge rape culture.