Sexual assault and harassment have been prevalent in society since the dawn of time, but social media and the internet are making addressing the issue a little less dreadful
Social media sites and networks have served as a platform for many phenomenon through the ages. One of the newest movements sweeping the internet is #metoo.
The #metoo trend is a response to sexual assault, harassment, and rape culture. It was curated in the hopes of bringing forward women and men who have experienced sexual harassment in any form to speak up for other people around the world.
The creator of this movement was actress Alyssa Milano. She used her twitter account to ask her twitter followers on Oct. 15, to tweet “#metoo” if they have been sexually assaulted or harassed.
“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,” said Milano on Twitter.
Women and men around the world face sexual harassment on a daily basis and it often goes unnoticed or is overlooked because of ignorance to the problem.
The critics of this movement have come out of the woodworks to comment on victim’s posts about the issue. Many have claimed that saying “women” is excluding any men who have been sexually assaulted, although 90% of sexual assault victims are female, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
The other problem encountered by this movement are the commenters who have been harassing victims for “not addressing the issue properly”. Many have said that the assaulters should be named and that if it happened in the distant past, then the problem is no longer valid.
The trolls of these victims have tried to shut down the movement, but social media and activists everywhere have managed to keep it alive. Many have pointed out that some victims are not comfortable bringing up their encounters and for every person commenting, there is most likely someone who is too scared of what the world will say.
The phenomenon not only shed a light on the severity and globalized problem of sexual assault, but it also unveiled covered-up issues in Hollywood and the film industry.
Harvey Weinstein was recently accused of a range of assaults and harassments by actresses women across the country. This hashtag has given the perfect platform for women to speak of their experiences with him and how the film industry is able to hide these allegations for so long.
The hashtag has spread across the internet including many Winthrop students who have shared their stories online.
Ashleigh Scipio is a freshman mass communication major who, like many other women on campus, has experienced sexual harassment and feels it is an issue that everyone must work together to fix.
“It’s important for people to share their stories so others know they’re not alone,” Scipio said. “Social media is powerful in itself. If others share their stories and promote non tolerance toward rape culture, then rape culture could finally be stopped.”
The #metoo trend on social media helps to address rape culture and bring forward victims, doubters and unaware citizens to talk and share their stories.
“I think the #metoo trend is one of the few beneficial trends of the year,” Scipio said. “It really helps for others to know they’re not alone and others have experienced sexual harassment, abuse and rape.”