Changing attitudes towards sexual assault in the twenty first century and the ramifications for contemporary young adult literature


This project will examine changes in popular attitudes towards sexual assault in the twenty first century and consider the ramifications of this for contemporary young adult literature. In recent decades, increased recognition has been afforded to the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse within society. Thus, it is unsurprising that sexual assault has become a prominent motif in young adult fiction. Social movements such as #MeToo have generated awareness of sexual assault by encouraging survivors of abuse to share their experiences and seek justice. Visualisation One is a Timeline of milestones relating to #MeToo. At the same time, numerous twenty first century rape cases have been popularised by media coverage. Visualisation Two is a Storyline which explores the correlation between these trials, major #MeToo events, and the publication of young adult novels detailing fictional instances of sexual assault.

Visualisation 1

Visualisation One is a Timeline which investigates the #MeToo movement’s development from 2006 to the present day. As this is an extensive campaign, it was impossible to include a slide for every #MeToo milestone. Subsequently, I consulted news and journal articles surrounding #MeToo to determine which incidents had the greatest impact on the movement’s progress. I chose sixteen milestones for incorporation in the timeline. Each slide provides a brief explanation of the event, its date of occurrence, the names of individuals involved, and a related image. The timeline begins with a general definition of #MeToo and concludes by noting that the movement is ongoing. Further milestone events will likely take place in the future. As such, the timeline offers a simplistic overview of the #MeToo movement to demonstrate its journey to date.

Visualisation 2

Visualisation Two is a Storyline which exhibits correlations between major #MeToo events/prominent rape trials and the publication of young adult narratives containing fictional cases of sexual assault. Using Goodread’s list of the hundred most popular young adult novels about rape and sexual assault as a sample, I determined how many of the books were released each year from 2000 to 2023. The Storyline illustrates fluctuations in the number of publications during this period. Referring to the data contained in Visualisation One, I noted the years that major #MeToo events occurred and plotted one incident from each relevant year on the graph. For the period prior to #MeToo, I opted to include details of rape cases that received significant media coverage (e.g. Vanderbilt Rape Case). The growth in publications from 2012 to 2016 may reflect the increased willingness to discuss sexual harassment and rape which culminated in the #MeToo movement.

Works Cited

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Corbett, Holly. “The #MeToo Movement Six Years Later: What’s Changed And What’s Next.” Forbes, 16 Nov. 2023, Accessed 2 March 2024.

Dilley, Alexandria, et al. “An Incomplete List of Events Related to ‘Me Too’ & #MeToo Movement (2006-2020).” Women & Therapy, vol. 44, no. 3–4, 2021, pp. 250–251,

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“Young Adult Books About Rape & Sexual Abuse.” Goodreads, Accessed 2 March 2024. Zimmerman, Eilene. “Campus Sexual Assault: A Timeline of Major Events.” The New York Times, 22 June 2016, Accessed 2 March 2024.