Julia Lucas, Staff Writer
The hashtag “#metoo” has been flooding social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the past month. The hashtag was first created a decade ago by Tarana Burke, a women’s rights activist. She originally came up with the idea to reach out to sexual assault victims in underprivileged communities to give them a voice. Recently, the #metoo movement has been brought back onto social media sites following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
The scandal has consisted of 63 women, as of now, who have come forward alleging that Weinstein had sexually harassed or assaulted them. One of Weinstein’s alleged victims, actresses Alyssa Milano, tweeted “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Her intentions were to force the public to understand the magnitude of sexual harassment and assault in America. Or in other words, to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Since Milano’s tweet on Oct. 15, #metoo has been in more than 1.7 million tweets. The stories range from catcalling to rape, and include many different types of sexual violence and harassment.
The main goals and hopes for the movement were that women could feel comfortable coming forward with their stories. There is power in numbers, so the idea that women from all over the country could share their personal stories defies the shameful stigma of rape and sexual assault that has been prevalent in our society. While this movement had high hopes, many argue that the hashtag did more to negatively impact women than it did to help them. One problem brought forward was that people felt obligated to stand up, even when they did not feel comfortable or ready to come forward about their stories. One writer tweeted, “Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #metoo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story.” While the hashtag made some women feel safe enough to come forward about their experiences with sexual harassment or assault, many other women felt like they were being pushed to come forward about an experience they were not ready to relive.
Survivors of sexual assault often have difficulties coming to terms with what happened to them and sometimes need serious mental help or counseling to assist them in the recovery process. Reading these tweets could have a negative impact on other survivors who have lived through similar experiences. This could trigger terrible memories and force them to go back to the darker places that they are trying to get away from.
Another major issue with the campaign is the potential that many of these tweets are oversimplifying the issue. By making a universal hashtag that reaches out to victims of both sexual violence and sexual harassment, there will be many women who have experienced catcalling with no action taken against them. Although catcalling is a serious issue that needs attention, it cannot be compared to rape and other sexual violence. Sexual harassment and sexual violence are serious and real problems in the United States, and men and women are forced to deal with these situations daily. While some are in support of the #metoo campaign and others are against, the campaign did its job by bringing the magnitude of sexual harassment and assault survivors back into the public eye.