If you’ve been on any social media platform at all, you’ve probably noticed the #MeToo campaign going around. Perhaps you’ve even participated in it. Here’s a scoop on the movement to shed light on sexual harassment and assault.
It’s getting people to talk about a problem that’s existed for a LONG time. Alyssa Milano is an actress and also an activist. She’s the one who posted the original tweet. The tweet that started all of this was a picture that said: “Me too. Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.’” She opened the floodgates for a whole lot of people.
This all started in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Harvey Weinstein, like so many other men in power (ahem, Hugh Hefner, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly), harassed and assaulted women for literally decades. He even went so far as to pay them off over the years so that they’d keep their mouths shut. Claims of these abuse and harassment scandals are finally coming out. His company is cutting ties with him, his wife is leaving him, and investigations are pending into his actions.
Responses came up over all different platforms. Although the movement started on Twitter, it certainly didn’t stay there. People brought their #MeToos over to Facebook and Instagram as well.
There was a huge outpouring of #MeToos. At one point, my entire feed was full of these posts. There were more posts that said #MeToo than there were that didn’t. It was crazy, but also not surprising. Within circles of women, it’s standard knowledge to know that most of us have experienced assault and/or harassment at some point in our lady lives. The volume may have been shocking to men, but it wasn’t so much to us.
Not everyone wanted to speak out. I saw one post that read: “Something to remember- not everyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted will feel comfortable sharing it on Facebook. That number of #metoos that you are seeing on your timeline is probably much, MUCH higher.” There were likely many more people who didn’t say anything as a result of being shy or just not wanting to be public about their experiences.
Some people felt triggered. I had friends who were crying and had to stay off of social media because they felt triggered by all that was going on. The idea of others being assaulted brought back waves of traumatic memories about their own assaults. Trauma is a tricky thing and it can get triggered at any moment, especially with something this big happening. I supported them doing anything they needed to do to take care of themselves.
There was also a feeling of solidarity. I can speak for myself in that when I was scrolling through my feed, I felt the power of all of the women who survived these awful things. I felt a sense of solidarity as we had to get through them and are brave enough to speak out about them. It was a beautiful thing. There was also so much love poured out in the form of comments on each other’s statuses. Sometimes the comment was just a heart, but they all still meant a lot.
Many other celebrities spoke up. Sure, we don’t need celebrities to make a movement move, but it definitely helps. Some are even inspiring, like dearest Lady Gaga. She has a huge following, so it’s wildly important that she was able to be public about her story. She can influence others to do the same (if it’s right for them).
It wasn’t just women. It’s important to include trans folk (especially women), non-binary people, and other gender nonconforming peeps. These categories of people also experience high levels of violence and harassment. Men also experience assault, but I think the focus here is really staying away from men. Members of the LGBTQIA community also experience high numbers of sexual assault and harassment.
The response tweet was #IWill. Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, responded to the movement with: “I’d love to see a hashtag in which people name a specific action they now commit to take to combat sexual harassment/assault.” Women and other people continued to respond with specific actions like helping educate younger women and acting instead of staying out of it when harassment is happening.
There are options if you or someone you know is in danger. Mamamia posted on its website: “If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual or domestic abuse, please contact 800.656.HOPE. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.” I just think that this is so crucial because unfortunately many women and other people are still in immediate danger.