#MeToo and Law Talk

28 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2020 Last revised: 21 Nov 2020

See all articles by Lesley Wexler

Lesley Wexler

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: November 2, 2019

Abstract

How Americans talk when they talk about #MeToo is often deeply rooted in the law—even in non-legal settings, participants in the #Me-Too conversation often deploy legal definitions of victims and perpetrators, reference legal standards of proof and the role of legal forums, draw explicit or implicit comparisons to legal punishments, and derive meaning from legal metaphors and legal myths. In this essay, I identify and assess the deployment of such law talk to help understand both how legal rhetoric may facilitate the national #MeToo conversation and related legal reforms, but may also simultaneously limit and obscure some of the #MeToo’s more transformative possibilities. Such critical engagement seeks to open space for selective pushback, including initial thoughts on the possibilities of reclaiming colloquial law talk to better match the interests at stake in non-legal settings as well as bringing to the forefront the therapeutic, informative, and structural issues law talk might crowd out.

Keywords: #MeToo, sexual harassment, sexual assault

JEL Classification: J70, J71

Suggested Citation

Wexler, Lesley M., #MeToo and Law Talk (November 2, 2019). University of Chicago Legal Forum, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3723924

Lesley M. Wexler (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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