Thousands of women and men across the country have been sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment alongside the hashtag #MeToo.
Over the weekend, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Milano’s goal was to raise awareness for how large the issue still is in our country and around the world. The movement quickly took off with thousands of people replying to Milano’s tweet, sharing their own stories and eventually creating the hashtag #MeToo.
Since Sunday, #MeToo has been tweeted 825,00 times according to CNN. On Facebook, over 4.7 million users have engaged in the “Me Too” conversation in some capacity.
One of the participants in the movement is writer and poet Najwa Zebian. Zebian shared her own story on Twitter. She tweeted, “#MeToo And I was blamed for it. I was told not to talk about it. I was told that it wasn’t that bad. I was told to get over it.”
Other celebrities who have joined the movement include Lady Gaga, Gabrielle Union and Patricia Arquette.
The movement was inspired by the recent Harvey Weinstein allegations. Celebrities are still continuing to come forward and reveal that they were either sexually assaulted or harassed by Weinstein. Though Weinstein has lost his job and his wife, he is still denying all allegations against him.
Sexual assault is still a real problem in the United States and one that often goes unpunished. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are even reported to the police. This means that two out of every three go unreported. Out of those reported crimes less than 17 percent lead to an arrest, and few perpetrators end up being incarcerated.
Unlike other crimes where physical evidence can lead to an arrest, a sexual assault often leaves little to no evidence behind. Victims only have their own memories and word of mouth as evidence. This is why many of these cases go unreported because many victims fear not being believed in the first place.
The #MeToo movement may have taken off on Sunday; however, Milano is not the true creator of the movement. The real movement began 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke.
Burke originally created the movement to help young women of color who had survived sexual abuse or assault. The movement has now expanded to encompass all women and men. The #MeToo movement continues to inspire women and men across the country to come out and share their own stories and experiences with sexual assault. While not every victim may feel comfortable speaking out and sharing their experience, at least now they are no longer alone.
Abby Goss is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at AG826189@wcupa.edu.