The statement “Me too” has spread across internet in the last 48 hours as survivors of sexual assault and harassment take to their social media accounts to raise awareness about the prevalence of violence against women.
Actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday, writing, “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.”
Instantly, people took to all forms of social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to either share their stories or simply display that they have been impacted by this epidemic as well. The hashtag became the top trending hashtag nationwide on all forms of social media within the first hour.
While sexual assault and harassment are normalized in America as a gendered experience, this campaign is aiding in the rejection of that as men also voiced their experiences with sexual victimization.
Advocates were quick to point out that so many survivors do not feel comfortable or safe sharing their experiences on social media. Writer Alexis Benveniste wrote, “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.”
Additionally many women’s right advocates expressed disappointment that survivors are forced to share their experiences to convince others that America is facing a sexual violence epidemic.
The “Me Too” movement was originally founded by activist Tarana Burke nearly ten years ago in an attempt to unify people who have survived sexual assault, especially in underprivileged communities “where rape crisis centers and sexual assault workers weren’t going.”
“It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow,” said Burke. “It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.”
Unfortunately, Burke was given very little credit for the campaign, a reflection of how women of color are left out of many conversations in which they should be centered.
25 years after Anita Hill publicly outed then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas as a sexual predator, broad levels of work place sexual harassment are still at epidemic levels. A new poll out from ABC and the Washington Post shows that “More than half of U.S. women have experienced unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances from men, three in ten have put up with unwanted advances from male co-workers and a quarter have endured them from men who had influence over their work situation.”
Of the women who reported unwanted sexual advances at work, 80 percent said it constituted as sexual harassment and one-third say it constituted as sexual abuse. That means that 33 million U.S. women were sexually harassed and 14 million women were sexually abused at worked. 95 percent of women who have experienced unwanted sexual advances at work say that male harassers typically go unpunished.
Media Sources: The Atlantic 10/16/17; ABC News 10/17/17; Ebony 10/16/17