Most of us have been receiving messages to stand up against sexual abuses and to support the cause on our social media account, being asked to put up a #MeToo status, but are you really aware of what is Me Too Movement? How, why and when it began? Why is it being taken so seriously that even the eminent personalities are coming up to support it?
To begin with, according to metoomvmt.org, there have been 17,700,000 reported sexual assault cases by women since 1998!
It is not just you or I who have been assaulted but every race, class, gender and ability of the society has seen, felt and experienced it closely, making all of us the same in the most painful and personal ways more than we ever knew.
What is Me Too Movement?
The “Me Too” phrase was created by a social activist and community organizer Tarana Burke in 2006. It was introduced to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women who experienced sexual abuse, particularly those who were of color and belonged to the underprivileged communities. Her inspiration to create this phrase emerged when a 13-year old girl confided in her to tell she was sexually assaulted. Having unable to respond then but only later did she wish that she had simply told the girl, “me too”.
Later in October 2017, actress Alyssa Milano popularized the term. She encouraged women to tweet #MeToo on social media to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
The WHO estimates that sexual violence affects one-third of all women worldwide.
Before #MeToo popularized, there were other hashtags about sharing stories of sexual that were in use. Such as #MyHarveyWeinstein, #YouOkSis, #WhatWereYouWearing and #SurvivorPrivilege.
Reach and Impact of the Me Too Movement
As per the reports by CNN, after Milano tweeted the phrase “Me too” around noon on October 15, 2017. By the day’s end, it was used more than 200,000 times and tweeted more than 500,000 times by October 16. Even Facebook saw a sudden surge in the usage of the hashtag. More than 4.7 million people used it in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours.
After millions of people started using the phrase, as a result, the purpose changed and expanded to mean different things to different people. In fact, Burke stated, “this movement has grown to include both men and women of all colors and ages, and supports marginalized people in marginalized communities”.
Sexual harassment and abuse not only prevails in one industry but spreads across many, such as Hollywood, music industry, sciences, academia and politics. This “Me Too” declarations elicited discussion of sexual harassment and later gave rise to other hashtags including:
#ChurchToo (to highlight and stop sexual abuse that happens in a church),
#SilenceIsNotSpiritual (to call for changes to how sexual misconduct is dealt with in the church),
#MeTooMilitary (used by service men and women sexually assaulted or harassed while in the military).
From churches, finance industry, politics and government, gymnastics, medicine, music, and military were among the many other industries that also used #MeToo to air allegations of sexual harassment.
Besides, the hashtag trended in at least 85 countries, including Afghanistan, China, India, France, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Israel, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, UK, Sweden, Ethiopia etc.
The Purpose of the #MeToo Movement
The purpose of the hashtag movement was not just awareness and empathy towards the victims but also to:
- Give people the resources to have access to healing, and advocate for changes to laws and policies,
- Teach kids to report predatory behavior immediately
- Take a stand against behavior that objectifies women
- Help fight sexual violence and harassment in the workplace through lobbying. And provide funding for victims to get legal help if they cannot afford it.
- “Give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”
- Determine the best ways to hold perpetrators responsible and stop the cycle
And many more…
Criticism Faced by the #MeToo Movement
But like it’s said there are two sides to every coin, so are the opinions of every debate and movement.