#MeToo – it’s a social media movement and a form of social activism that’s gained momentum around the world, providing victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault a welcome environment to share their stories, find their voice, and re-gain their dignity.
The #MeToo movement started innocuously enough with an October 15th Twitter comment posted by actress Alyssa Milano who wrote, “Suggested by a friend: 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.” Milano further added, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Milano quickly garnered 69k replies, with her post re-tweeted 25k times. The hashtag #MeToo was used more than 500k times on social media in the 24 hours following Milano’s post.
Research shows that the roots of the #MeToo movement go much deeper than Milano’s October 2017 tweet. In truth, the original movement was first introduced in 2006 by social activist Tarana Burke, founder of Just Be Inc., a non-profit organization that advocates for the health and well-being of young women of color. No matter what the basis of the movement, with help of social media, #MeToo has encouraged victims from all ages and backgrounds to reject the unacceptable and speak out against sexual harassment and assault.
Further, unlike most social media trends that quickly fizzle out when something more newsworthy comes along, the #MeToo movement hasn’t faded in the months since it first appeared. By and large, #MeToo quickly expanded globally, with victims from all over the world stepping forward to share their stories. International hashtags such as #QuellaVoltaChe (Italian – “the time that”), #BalanceTonPorc (French – “expose your pig”), and #YoTambien (Spanish – “me too”) are added proof that other countries are joining the social revolution taking place in the United States. So powerful is the movement, in fact, that the silence breakers of the #MeToo movement were awarded Time magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year in early December.
With such an eye-opening social media presence, many ask if the #MeToo movement will result in a lasting change for society. While the movement isn’t a call to action, at the very least, it appears to have grown bigger than its hashtag, showing just how prevalent sexual assault and sexual harassment really are. It aims to change society’s existing culture of blaming the victim and return a voice to those who have remained silent too long, in turn, stripping power from predators who have taken voices away. The #MeToo movement doesn’t have a leader, but it has a huge following, and the world is listening.
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault and need help, contact the CHS Counseling Center or call Sarah’s Place (541-812-4420), a regional help center open 24/7.