Last weekend, and well into this week, social media has been flooded by two words: me, too.
The movement was started as a way to create visibility for sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors. One of the most popular versions of the copy and paste Facebook status read as “Me too. 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.”
The trend spread to Twitter, with people tweeting out the hashtag. In some instances, survivors spoke out about what kinds of sexual harassment or assault they experienced.
The movement created the visibility it was looking for: people were speaking up about the issue, and people were showing that these weren’t isolated incidents.
The phrase was more popular than last year’s #YesAllWomen which was in response to #NotAllMen, a phrase toted by “nice guys” who didn’t want to be lumped in with the “bad guys” when it came to the ladies. But the difference between bad guys and nice guys isn’t that stark, because most bad guys start out as nice guys and turn bad or were bad all along.
#YesAllWomen’s direct responsive ties to #NotAllMen could be seen why it didn’t spread as much as #MeToo. This new hashtag is its own saying, created independently from another movement.
It was also born in a time where the news is filled with more and more updates of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. More and more women keep stepping forward either about him, or about the entertainment industry as a whole, and the sexual toxicity that lives there.
Reese Witherspoon, at an ELLE Magazine event recently, said, “After hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.”
While Witherspoon is directly talking about women in the industry, her statement can be applied here. Seeing the spread of #MeToo can, and probably has, helped other survivors speak up or seek out help for themselves.
But, then again, those using #MeToo are the ones who can bring themselves to talk about what happened to them. Those who aren’t afraid of dealing with prying questions. Those who are far enough away from trauma that they can talk about it openly in a public forum such as social media.
Not every person who has been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted has spoken out with #MeToo, nor should they feel they have to be a valid activist in fighting for visibility of the issue and punishment for perpetrators.
In a time where Title IX’s effectiveness is up for debate because of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, survivors on campuses are likely to stop speaking out for fear of nothing happening but victim blaming and their assailant remaining on campus.
Hopefully, there will be a day where women’s bodies aren’t viewed as being a playground for men. Until that day comes, know that survivors aren’t alone and there are resources. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are very serious traumas.
If anything has ever happened to you or a friend please go to Student Counseling Services. They have the resources to help, and confidentially.