We live in the digital age in the 21st century. There is no doubt that you came across an interesting trend on all social media including, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The feeds were flooding with #MeToo.
For many women (and some men), this was a wakeup call. Women who were sexually assaulted, abused or raped took to social media to express their emotions.
#MeToo had the making of a paradigm shifting revolution as simple as it was.
How did #MeToo start and trend?
The #MeToo hashtag started trending when actress/singer Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to express her painful feelings about sexual abuse. On the 15th of October, she wrote, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’, as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
Just as she hoped, thousands of victims poured out their traumatic experiences on social media. What Ms.Milano initiated in addressing the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in America, pretty soon became a worldwide trend. India was among one of the countries where #MeToo trended greatly. For a country where every woman faces sexual assault of some sort, surprisingly enough many men shared their stories too. Among other nations were Pakistan, The UK, Israel, Spain and Canada. France had their own version of it, namely, “#BalanceTonPorc” which translates to “Expose Your Pig”. French women took it to the next level by naming their perpetrators on social media.
However, even though Alyssa Milano gave way to a trending topic on Twitter, the Me Too campaign was founded by the Black female rights activist, Tarana Burke in 2016.
The connection to Harvey Weinstein:
#MeToo became wildly popular because it came up in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The world renowned producer was accused of sexual assault and harassment of many of his employees as well as a large number of actresses that have worked with him. The list of celebrities that claim Weinstein made a sexual pass at them include, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale and Cara Delvingne. All the actresses have a story of how the producer harassed them and pushed them for sexual favors and this made way for the hashtag to trend.
Although many women and men all around the world took to the internet to share their stories and show that victims are not alone, like with anything, there were criticisms for #MeToo as well.
At first, men pointed out the fact that it is wrong to assume that only women are victims of rape and abuse. Hamilton star Javier Muñoz tweeted, “Me too. I don’t know if it means anything coming from a gay man but it’s happened. Multiple times”. There were many other men, gay and straight alike who voiced their emotions.
Another Criticism was that some women felt the hashtag removed blame from the perpetrators. They believe that by having women out themselves as victims, they’re making themselves weaker. Instead men should out themselves as the abusers.
Most victims shied away from the trend, because they didn’t want to relive the traumatic and sad experiences and have everyone else read about it.