Sunday morning, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me, too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
This message was in response to sexual assault accusations against film producer, Harvey Weinstein.
Just over 24 hours later, the hashtag #MeToo has taken off as women post their stories, and it has spread to other social media platforms, including Facebook. Over half a million people have participated in this tag on twitter, according to the Seattle Times.
Women invited all to participate in the tag, acknowledging that male victims of sexual assault have been disregarded in moments like these in the past. Many took this to heart, and the tag #MeToo became flooded with experiences from diverse sources: men, women, young, old, celebrities, professionals, etc. People have had two reactions to the hashtag. While some expressed utter surprise, many were completely unfazed.
This tag is not slowing down, and it’s proving that there is strength in numbers. There is a solidarity that rises from mutual understanding and experience.
Sexual assault awareness movements are not new. Outcries on the topic happen every time a new case is broadcasted, and there is rarely a lack of cases to focus on.
Hollywood, NFL and politics are some of the widely covered fields that often have the accused abuser suffer little to no consequences while the victim suffers criticism.
Having suffered sexual assault or harassment is often painted as shameful; it is no surprise that very few victims come forward to report. Often, the victims rarely even tell their loved ones for fear of doubt. Not much has come from these awareness movements so far.
We hear the stories, emotionally react, show our support on social media and then move on.
The culture does not see any change.
Continually, women are told to avoid being harassed, men are told they cannot be assaulted, and the real conversations are avoided
#MeToo shows just how many people have suffered an instance of being sexualized without their consent. Each story is different and each person is comfortable sharing only so much.
So what will we do about this?
Will this just be another instance of all talk and no action?
How many of these movements will it take before something is done?
It is time to change. There needs to be more than a simple acknowledgment of this problem.
No instance is too small to speak up.
From catcalls to rape, every incident needs to be challenged in the moment, not afterwards.
Every perpetrator should be held accountable, and phrases like “boys will be boys” or “locker room talk” should be disgraced and removed from our culture.
Passivity is not a solution, but silence is part of the problem.