The phrase #MeToo has been all over Twitter and Facebook the past couple days.
But #MeToo is more than just a phrase. It’s meant to create support for women who have been sexually harassed or abused in their lifetime.
The campaign has taken the internet by storm. The online campaign is a reaction to allegations of sexual abuse against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Originally credited to actor Alyssa Milano, the #MeToo movement is a way for victims of sexual abuse of any kind to band together and document what has long been a worldwide crisis.
Milano shared a note from a friend on her Twitter on Oct. 17 that read, “If all women who have been sexually harassed, assaulted or abused wrote ‘me too’ as a status, we might give people the sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
Being able to speak about this, rather than it being taboo, by simply tweeting #MeToo has had a profound effect. Sexual assault and harassment is a serious problem.
The campaign has a profound gender dynamic to it. Those responding are mostly women. Some men have tweeted or posted acknowledging their support of the campaign. Craig Lancaster of the Dallas Sun Sentinel wrote a beautiful piece acknowledging the role he plays.
This campaign was not meant to undermine the experiences of men, gender non-conforming or transgender folk. Their stories of sexual assault and harassment should too be taken seriously and many have been including them in the conversation.
However, the campaign is meant to build an understanding of the male role in the fight against harassment. Statistically, more men sexually assault and harass women. Thousands more harassments and assalts remain unreported. Unfortunately, these perpetrators are overwhelmingly men.
For the men that have done it, it’s time to stop. Period.
For the men who are allies, don’t just say it in principle. Do it in action. If you see a woman in the workplace being harassed by another man, say something. Men do have a role to play.
What does this all mean? Clearly, there’s value in masses of women speaking out against assault and harassment in this way. Especially when it comes to harassment, women tend to keep those incidents to ourselves. But speaking out, especially in a way as simple as tweeting #MeToo, has profound power.
It has incited this conversation. It has started a dialogue, created counterarguments. This is valuable. It means that women who have been assaulted or harassed, for once, are not being ignored.
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