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SARC’D: Misogyny and Myth in the U.S. Air Force Subreddit
In 2022, more than 1,600 United States Air Force Airmen reported a sexual assault, according to a Pentagon report. On the US Air Force page of the online forum Reddit, members spread and sustain misinformation about false reports of sexual harassment and assault, offering up rumors, anecdotes, and hypothetical reasoning for why women would make false allegations. This study examines how the architecture, rules, and norms of Reddit mediate the proliferation of sexual assault misinformation on the USAF Reddit page. Using critical technocultural discourse analysis, I apply lenses of critical theories of online misogyny and misinformation to coded observations from ten years of false allegation posts. The results of this research find that the discourse--and the site features that shape and are shaped by it-- map onto the framework of DARVO [deny, attack, reverse victim and offender], a reactionary tactic of perpetrators of abuse. Implications of these findings offer suggested improvements for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training and new training on the threat of online misinformation.
Committee chairAram Sinnreich
Committee member(s)Adrienne Massanari
Degree disciplineMedia, Technology, and Democracy
Degree grantorAmerican University. School of Communication