Back in 2006 when MySpace was still a thing, a small, two-word rallying cry was begun: Me Too.
Jump forward eleven years, and Tarana Burke’s words became a viral hashtag: the #MeToo movement, brought to light by actress Alyssa Milano on Twitter following allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Alyssa Tweeted, “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.” And millions replied.
Some women replied with heart-breaking stories, some with emotional calls against sexual assault, and some simply replied with the hashtag. Women who had never before spoken about their experiences felt like they could finally use the hashtag to begin the conversation.
The #MeToo movement has sparked similar movements in other countries with mother tongue hashtags, and some men have replied, either with their own #MeToo stories, or using such hashtags as #HowIWillChange, in which people write about how they will do more to help victims of assault and harassment. Some have written comments pledging much ñ some have simply written that they will learn to listen.
Some articles report that the #MeToo hashtag may have gone too far – others report that it has not gone far enough. But an anonymous student, female and aged 19, says, “Without #MeToo I never would have told anyone that I was assaulted a few years ago. I Tweeted about it, no one replied, but it gave me the confidence to finally tell someone, a close friend, a couple of weeks later.”
To put it simply, the #MeToo movement is about giving victims of sexual assault a space to speak about their experiences. It is giving power to the people who have, for so long, been silenced by the assaulter, and millions wonít be quiet anymore.