Feminism is often thought of as a dirty word, or at least a controversial one. However, regardless of your stance on the issue, it’s hard to ignore the revival the cause has seen this year.
One such revival may have come as a shock to many. Not a ‘pussy march’ or a ‘slut walk’, but a hashtag.
Starting in October and stretching through until November, #MeToo began to trend on social media and became an over-night movement of great proportions.
Created in response to the horrific revelations made in relation to a number of big public figures, from Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey, the hashtag aimed to empower victims of sexual assault and harassment to share their stories.
Alyssa Milano, one of Harvey Weinstein’s most vocal critics, spoke openly about the abuse she faced and urged others to do the same. Writing on Twitter she posted “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.” It was with this tweet that the MeToo movement began and hundreds of responses began to flood social media, each incorporating the MeToo hashtag.
The aim of the movement, quite simply, was to convince those who haven’t experienced sexual assault or harassment themselves that it is something that happens all too frequently.
I spoke to one woman who openly shared her experience and explained why she thinks the MeToo hashtag is an important step in raising awareness.
What was your experience?
“Once I took a trip to Vegas. I had recently turned 21 and was there for a weekend conference.”
“We went to a bar. We were drinking. I met two guys at the bar and I ended up going back to their hotel with them, I’m not sure why. I went back to their room. They proceeded to take my top off.”
“I started to realise what was going on, when flash, the guy takes a picture of me. I asked him to delete it and he ignored me.”
“As I opened the door to leave they shouted back at me, ‘you stupid whore!’ I got into the elevator, and that was it.”
Why do you think it’s important for people to share their stories?
“I think it’s important for people to share their stories because I believe this happens so often, where people think they can take advantage of others. Each person has a different story but the same feelings of shame.”
How has the MeToo hashtag been a positive thing?
“It shows women they are not alone. It also shows society that this is a real issue that needs to be taken seriously because it affects so many people.”
Can this problem ever be solved?
“I hope that things will change in the future. After what happened to me in Vegas, I felt like an awful person. I want younger generations to understand that this happens every day and to stand up and show others we will not let this happen anymore.”
What’s become clear from the MeToo hashtag is that attitudes are changing. Although the damage caused by sexual assault and harassment may never truly go away completely, the sense of empowerment it has given victims to seek justice and break their silence is certainly a positive sign for the future, and not controversial in the slightest.
By Kyle Arthur