The Two Sides of Sexual Assault
Most hashtags are little more than shouts into the void. #MeToo being an obvious exception
Most politically motivated hashtags are little more than shouts into the void. #MeToo being an obvious exception. The #MeToo movement is a social reaction against sexual harassment and sexual assault. Few hashtags, other than those associated with the “Arab Spring,” have had the same sort of real-world results.
Support the Victim
It is both interesting and disheartening to watch how the conversation and narrative has shifted on the issue of sexual assault. Mostly for the negative. I don’t think this says anything negative about the hashtag itself. Because the hashtag really is about supporting the victims of sexual assault.
Social media erupted sending the hashtag viral. The explosive growth in size and importance of the hashtag went beyond what was expected, or perhaps, even intended. The problem with a bandwagon is that anyone can jump on board. The most shocking turn, at least to me, was the statement that #MeToo is for “women and victims, not men and perpetrators.”
Empathy not Agreement
I can empathize with the frustration behind such a statement, particularly in the context it was first made. The answer was given in response to questions about what the movement will do to help any men unfairly accused of sexual assault. There is, however, a much deeper implication and assumption to the statement which is wrong, by which I mean incorrect, in a fundamental way.
It Just Takes a celebrity
Alyssa Milano used the MeToo in a moving video and Twitter question.
On 10/15/17 film star Alyssa Milano in response to the media uproar over the sexual assault and harassment charges against Harvey Weinstein tweeted the following: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted write “Me Too” in reply to this text”.
The Big Response
Within 24 hours social media was flooded with more than 12 million stories of sexual assault, and sexual harassment. #MeToo quickly became a way for users to talk about their experiences of sexual violence and just as importantly, stand in solidarity with other survivors. Despite gaining steam in light of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse case, this is not actually where the hashtag started.
The true progenitor of the phrase that would gain both fame and notoriety is African-American social and civil rights activist and community organizer Tarana Burke. Burke began using Me Too in 2006.
Tarana Burke, African-American sexual assault activist and civil rights organizer began using #MeToo in 2006
Kelly Oxford is a Canadian humorist and blogger who in April of 2017 wrote a collection of essays in which she relates many of the worst things that have happened to her through her life in a funny self-reflective “When You Find Out The World Is Against You”, drew thousands of #MeToo replies within the first few hours.
Clearly a Creeper
Oxford’s accounts of sexual assault do not take a “men are evil” tone, which some #MeTooer’s have done. The closest thing is when she recounts a doctor, who was clearly a creeper, gave her an unnecessary breast exam when she was 14. The most egregious case, however, an attempted rape when Oxford was in high school, was stopped by the intervention of the assailant’s much smaller male friend.
Stories of intervention and help by men and boys are told far too rarely in the context of sexual assault. We all know at least one person who has been sexually assaulted. We also know at least one or more stories of men either intervening in the middle of an incident or supporting someone in the aftermath of an attack. Clearly, most men are appalled by sexual assault. Continue reading