Breaking the Silence on Sexual Harassment

Alexa Okane
May 8, 2018 · 3 min read

These days, most of us scroll through social media in the morning just to get a sense of what our friends are up to. But lately, it’s almost impossible to open any social media app without coming across “#MeToo”. What is this new hashtag, and why is it popping up everywhere?

The #MeToo movement allows women to come forward on social media about their experiences with sexual assault or harassment, lending support to other women who have experienced it and gaining support themselves. The move has been both highly praised and criticised, but most importantly it has sparked a new era of feminism through social media.

The idea of using social media as a conduit for such a serious issue has also led to some controversy itself. In interviews with regular social media users, the medium chosen for the movement garnered mixed reactions.

I talked with two Champlain college students to get their views on the issue. In an interview with Kellen Bailey, a recent transfer to the professional writing major, he admitted that it is “not as empowering to hear about with a hashtag because it isn’t as serious as the sex misconduct allegations” that he sees in the news.

Samantha Gougher, a first year professional writing major, agreed, stating that “women need to be more outspoken and individualistic instead of repeating the same hashtag” because “there has to be individual thought” for it to truly matter. Both interviewees admitted that the hashtag was better than nothing, since it did increase visibility for the issue, but they wished that a different method was initially chosen so the movement could do more.

The method of the movement seems to be the source of a lot of the alleged issues that have popped up since its origin, including the idea that the movements have been too extreme. This side of the debate believes that the hashtag has gone too far, even scaring men into not feeling free or allowed to hit on or compliment women.

Another issue that comes up with not only the Me Too hashtag, but the associated “Time’s Up” organization, is image. “Time’s Up” is a coalition of celebrities working to spread awareness for sexual assault and harassment, as well as help victims fight their abusers. Much like the Me Too hashtag debate, many people are debating if the organization is actually effective, or merely for image.

When asked about the show of solidarity at the Golden Globes, Kellen Bailey and Samantha Gougher had differing opinions, representing both sides of the debate. Kellen believed that “it’s good for a group like this to be represented whether the people at the front of the representation are doing it earnestly or not… because it means that people don’t have to live in the dark”. In other words, he thought that the image was good, and it didn’t matter if it was sincere or not.

Samantha, on the other hand, believed that simply wearing black “isn’t effort,” and to seriously make a difference, more would have to be done.

More will likely be done as the “Time’s Up” and “#MeToo” movements continue to be highly contested in the coming months as sexual harassment and assault remain in the forefront of the media’s attention.

Whichever side of the issue you’re on, be sure to keep watching the development of movements like “Time’s Up” and “#MeToo”. Social media is a powerful tool, and the use of media for movements is only going to increase.

Alexa Okane

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Alexa is a Professional Writing student at Champlain College. Visit her website at alexaokane.wordpress.com for more of her writing!