Who is believed in our mediated world? In Believability: Sexual Violence, Media and the Politics of Doubt (Polity Press, 2023), Sarah Banet-Weiser, Distinguished Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and Professor of Communication at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Kathryn Claire Higgins, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center for Collaborative Communication, examine this question by introducing the conception of an economy of believability governing who is, and who is not, believed or doubted. Written in the wake of #MeToo, the book engages directly with key contexts such as post-truth and the commodification of sexual violence. Thinking through questions of race and class, the analysis ranges widely, covering representations of sexual violence in fiction and non-fiction media, contemporary controversies and court cases, and the backlash from men in positions of power. The book is essential reading across the humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone seeking to understand ongoing gender inequalities in media and in society.
Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield.