Fire Stories – Thomas Örn Karlsson

He Said, She Said:
Fake News and #MeToo in Marianne de Pierres’ Sentients of Orion

Dorothea Boshoff

University of South Africa

Deirdre C. Byrne

University of South Africa

Abstract | The recent #MeToo movement on social media originated in Hollywood as an attempt to mitigate the drastic under-reporting of sexual harassment and gender- based violence. The rationale is that if survivors of gender-based violence (who are usually women) could find solidarity in speaking out about their experiences, they would feel empowered to mount a successful challenge to rape culture. Unfortunately, the possibilities for change held by #MeToo are in danger of being undermined by the prevalence of fake news, which threatens to discredit accusations of sexual misconduct as well as protestations of innocence by accused persons. Using the phenomena of fake news and the #MeToo movement as starting points, this paper aims to show how Marianne de Pierres’ modern space opera in Sentients of Orion represents the slippery territory between truth and subjective interpretation, especially in loaded incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse. By exploring three incidents from the text, we will demonstrate that de Pierres’ writing, far from being ‘escapist’ as space opera is often assumed to be, contains a trenchant critique of contemporary discourse about sexuality and sexual misconduct.

Keywords | Fake news; #MeToo; Sentients of Orion; feminist resistance; Mira; rape; sexual abuse; subjective interpretation.