Several sexual harassment cases that had previously been swept under the rug are coming to light in recent political and Hollywood scandals, and the #MeToo phenomena is helping those brave women know they aren’t alone, they are the voice of millions.
The hashtag started trending after a number of women came forward expressing their accounts with film producer, Harvey Weinstein, and how they were harassed by him. The goal was to demonstrate the sheer volume of women that have survived sexual assault/harassment.
For women that didn’t want to share their experiences with the public, but still wanted to show their support, the simple hashtag was the perfect outlet.
“Hashtags on social media are always a good way to raise awareness on an issue because you can click on a hashtag and see thousands of people you can relate to,” said junior Ben Baker.
The Silence Breakers will be featured on the cover of Time Magazine for winning Person of the Year. The cover features Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift, and Isabel Pascual who were some of the first women to begin speaking out publicly against sexual assault. Tarana Burke, the creator of #MeToo was also featured in the magazine.
An anonymous arm on the cover represents all the women that have been sexually assaulted, but haven’t come forward about it yet. When the cover is flipped open, the back of a woman is shown to keep the identity of the arm a secret.
Sexual harassment was broadcasted in 2017. Celebrities like Taylor Swift gave ordinary women the confidence to speak their truth and to fight the shame one can feel after being assaulted.
“Social media is a great way to get people to connect and speak out about issues, knowing they aren’t alone,” said Baker.
After #MeToo went viral, a new hashtag popped up. Men can participate in the fight against sexual assault and harassment as well by posting #IWillSpeakUp. The goal is for men and women to continue to show their support to all survivors on social media, and that the support will be translated to real life.
If instead of everyone questioning what the woman was wearing, how she was acting, what she said, or if she was telling the truth people were genuinely concerned for their well being, sexual assault could be reduced significantly and when it happens, victims would have the reassurance to speak up about it.
“Unfortunately, some of the first questions women are asked when they come out are how they brought the sexual assault onto themselves such as: what they were wearing, if they were flirting, if they were intoxicated, etc,” said junior Chloe Planche. “The #MeToo movement has shone light on these brave women and shared their stories.”
Women all over the world tweeted similar messages. Women from Italy tweeted “#QuellaVoltaChe”, which translates to “That time when” and women from France tweeted #BalanceTonPorc, which roughly translates to “snitch out your pig”.
The hashtag could be seen on all forms of social media. Retweets and favorites or reposting and liking #MeToo posts demonstrated the support from women who didn’t want to post about their own experiences in any way. Twelve million #MeToo posts appeared on Facebook in 24 hours.
It can be hard to know what to say to someone who has survived sexual assault and it can be hard for that person to know how to continue with their normal lives after such a violating experience, so the hashtag was a great way to be able to connect to those who have dealt with similar situations.
“It gives a way for more conversations about the way sexual assault is thrown under the rug and some people don’t even know that what happened to them really was sexual assault,” said junior Emma Phoenix
Although a hashtag isn’t a permanent solution, the amount of awareness it raised was overwhelming. On average, there are 321,500 victims of sexual assault or rape per year.
That statistic is only from the people that have spoken out about their assault, there are thousands of men and women that have kept their experiences secret. The hashtag was the perfect way to bring awareness without having to share intimate details.
The goal is for this small start to spark confidence in women afraid to speak out and give comfort to the women feeling alone and ashamed.