#metoo The Social Media Hashtag Providing A Platform For Victims

#metoo The Social Media Hashtag Providing A Platform For Victims

Actress Alyssa Milano sparked a huge debate and outpouring of on social media when she tweeted on Monday requested girls and women who have been victims of sexual harassment or assault to speak up with the hashtag #MeToo. These two simply words became a rallying cry on twitter to showcase support to the many victims of sexual assault and harassment around the world. Social media was flooded with victims of all ages speaking up about the various different instances of sexual harassment or assault each have faced over the years, sometimes multiple times.

The intensity of the problem was underscored by the avalanche of painful stories that came to the fore, with victims from all backgrounds channeling long-suppressed rage, pain and hurt, and sharing it with the world. In a short amount of time, women from all across the globe had joined hands, shared their painful experiences and provided strength and support to one another through the strong support circle that is continuously evolving and growing into a strong support movement to encompass more and more people from all genders and backgrounds. Even celebrities joined in on the cataclysmic social media campaign in response to Milano’s prompt, speaking up about their own personal experiences to raise awareness about how common sexual harassment and assault really is. Here are just some of the millions of tweets that surfaced in response to Milano’s prompting:

Amy Siskind, president of the women’s advocacy non-profit group The New Agenda, told Bustle that #metoo became popular as an extension of her campaign #WomenWhoRoar which was a call not to boycott Twitter after the website blocked Rose McGowan’s account.

Sexual harassment and assault are such a common occurrence in the world today that many women even wondered whether their experience of sexual harassment and assault was worth sharing at all.

Even some men added their voices to the growing audience of victims speaking up against harassment and assault, highlighting how common it is to disregards sexual assault and abuse of men, regardless of the society one lives in.

 

The social media storm broke out following the recent Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal. For her part, Milano wrote in an essay for PatriotNotPartisan.com, “Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace are not just about Harvey Weinstein. We must change things in general. We must do better for women everywhere.”

The trending topic may have garnered massive support for victims of assault and harassment world over (rightly so), but not everybody was as happy to provide support. Some even questioned the necessity of “putting the victim out there”, but were thankfully shot down by other more supportive and louder voices.

In France, a similar social media campaign with the top-trending hashtag #balancetonporc (#ExposeThePig) went underway, where some 86,000 women shared their experiences of being sexually harassed at work or in the street. Launched by journalist Sandra Muller, who tweeted about how her former boss had commented on her breasts and promised to “have sex with her all night long”;  it highlighted the severity of the issue in France. The frequency of  both social media trends seemed to showcase that most women in both countries were speaking out for the first time, often citing feelings of shame or embarrassment as the reason for staying quiet about their experiences for so long.

Many women using the hashtag #metoo shared that they had been abused as a child or a teenager, that it had been a relative or someone they had trusted who had broken that trust. Regardless of the different type of experiences, most women and girls had one thing in common: nobody believed them when they found the courage to speak, or they were hushed and never given the chance to raise the voices at all.

The popular social media hashtag highlighting sexual assault and harassment in France came on the heels of the country’s President Emanuel Macron, declaring his resolve to tackle male sexist attitudes in public spaces and that he would send new contingents of country police to enforce the law. Tens of thousands of women took to social media to share their experiences with regards to workplace harassment in response to the President’s statement.

Marlene Schiappa, the country’s gender equality minister, said workshops would be held across France to discuss the bill, which, if turned into law, would impose on-the-spot-fines for sexual harassment. “It is completely necessary, because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law,” she told RTL Radio.

Whether it is France, the USA, the UK or even Pakistan, we certainly need more laws in place to protect women and girls from sexual harassment and assault. We need to teach society that the “other gender” is not “weak” or “prone to be objectified”, and we certainly cannot stand by quietly as women and girls everywhere are forced to stay quiet in the wake of broken trust in the form of sexual harassment and assault. Speak up, and now. #MeToo

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *