#Me Too: Standing Up To Sexual Assault


Participators in the 2017 D

Shriya Senguttuvan, Co-Editor-In-Chief

“Name it, shame it and call it out. Join me” -Actress Rose McGowan

Driven to the point where silence can no longer be a solution to a problem that is far louder than it is heard, thousands of women and men of all backgrounds are banding together to fight against sexual assault. Sexual assault is a general term that includes sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact, child sexual abuse and rape. Sexual abuse also occurs when the individuals that are participating do not consent. Using the phrase #MeToo, numerous individuals have started calling out those who have sexually assaulted them and have gone without punishment. This simple phrase has now sparked a feminist movement, shedding light on the large problem at hand. For so many years, these victims, namely women, have kept quiet due to the backlash they would face. However, it is time to create waves and speak out against those who have committed unspeakable crimes, in order to change and construct a society where women and men do not have to risk it all to utter the words “me too.”

The hashtag #MeToo went viral when actress Alyssa Milano posted on twitter saying if anyone reading this has been a victim of sexual assault simply respond to the tweet by saying #MeToo. Milano started the hashtag in light of all of the sexual assault allegations towards Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. The tweet soon started trending, garnering almost a million responses in only 48 hours. The message of #MeToo also spread to other social media platforms such as Facebook, where it got over 12 million posts of women and men, sharing personal stories regarding sexual assault and raising awareness to the magnitude of the situation. Not only did it trend within the United States, but variations of #MeToo trended in Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Tarana Burke, an American civil rights activist who originally started the movement for young women who became victim to sexual assault to let them know they are not alone, started the movement Me Too 10 years ago. Now joining forces, Milano and Burke are working together to aid victims. The movement itself is a large step in the right direction, seeing as it addressed the problem.

Many people are unaware to how astonishingly large the problem of sexual assault is because it is never advertised. In reality, one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Of all these cases, only 28 percent are reported. In fact, sexual assault is the least reported violent crime. This is due to the stigma regarding sexual assault victims; often people try to justify why sexual assault happens claiming “sexual assault is provoked by the victim’s actions, behaviors or by the way they dress,” which is never the case. This is why the #MeToo movement has garnered so much attention. It is uniting victims who have been forced to keep quiet to openly support and tell their truths. By publicizing the problem, it is easier for the public to understand that something must be done; it is no longer a statistic, but a problem that needs to be solved.

#MeToo has also shown that even in the most perfect of worlds, there is darkness. This can be seen especially in all the Hollywood sexual assault cases that have come to light. Since the Weinstein scandal broke out, numerous actresses have come out and shared their stories against the industry. Esteemed actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan and Reese Witherspoon have expressed their support toward fighting what goes on behind closed doors in Hollywood by speaking publicly about what happened to them. Along with actresses coming out about their experience, a number of celebrities have been exposed for the sexual assaults they have committed. Alongside Weinstein are actors and producers such as Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck and Chris Savino who have been accused of committing these crimes. With powerful people coming out and telling their stories against other celebrities, it helps establish that there is a consequence for such a crime, no matter your status. There is no hierarchy when it comes to sexual assault. This aids in the fight to reform society by reprimanding everyone in the wrong.

Although with large movements such as this one, scrutiny is almost always present. Some actresses and actors do not support the movement, such as Brigitte Bardot, who says the movement generalizes what happens in Hollywood and it is “hypocritical, ridiculous and without interest.” Others claim that those who are coming forward are lying about their stories to get publicity. Although in some cases sexual assault can be misreported, statistically only 2 percent of accusations are falsified, making the majority credible.

#MeToo is a movement that is the start of a new era for men and women. It has already lead to solutions such as Time’s Up, a initiative created by the women of Hollywood which has a Legal Defense Fund to subsidize legal support for women, who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. With Time magazine’s person of the year going to “Silence Breakers,” women who have stood up against sexual abuse, to celebrities making empowering speeches at esteemed award shows, the age of silence is gone. It is now replaced with an era that not only supports women and men, but believes them when they are faced with adversity. As Oprah Winfrey said when accepting her Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes, “No more silence. No more waiting. No more tolerance for discrimination, harassment or abuse. Time’s Up.”