Image-based sexual abuse in Ireland: a thematic and critical discourse analysis of Twitter data surrounding a highly-publicised case in 2013
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Gannon, Robyn. (2022). Image-based sexual abuse in Ireland: a thematic and critical discourse analysis of Twitter data surrounding a highly-publicised case in 2013. Dearcadh: Graduate Journal of Gender, Globalisation and Rights, 3. doi:https://doi.org/10.13025/ejwc-aa85
In order to understand attitudes that uphold social inequalities, discourse related to these inequalities must be analysed. Rape myths are socially upheld false beliefs about sexual violence (SV) which contribute to rape-supportive cultures. Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) is a form of SV which has increased with rising socialmedia use. A case of IBSA within the Irish context can be seen in an incident that occurred at a concert in 2013. Sexually explicit images of a 17-year old woman were posted online and went viral, with the woman (derisively dubbed ‘Slane girl’) becoming the subject of national and international discourse. The aim of this research was to investigate the attitudes of Twitter users in Ireland to the Slane case through a thematic and critical discourse analysis (CDA). Data were collected and analysed from Twitter application programming interfaces (API) using Python. A range of sentiments were identified towards the woman in the case - derision, shame, indifference and sympathy. It was concluded that the majority of tweets displayed a lack of empathy for the woman as well as a lack of understanding of the SV in the case. The low levels of reporting of SV in Ireland are likely influenced by cultural attitudes reflected in the findings of this research. It is recommended that further research is conducted to ascertain the opinions and attitudes of people in Ireland towards victimsurvivors of SV and to develop methods of challenging rape myths in Irish society.