#MeToo: Behind the Hashtag

In the weeks since Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, a hashtag was born. After Rose McGowan’s Twitter was suspended for speaking out against Weinstein and sexual assault, some women wanted to boycott Twitter, but others decided being silent is not the way to protest being silenced. #MeToo is spreading awareness of how common it is to be a victim of sexual assault or harassment.

Stories of being told what happened was their fault, blaming themselves, and finding “reasons” that their attacker wasn’t at fault were shared using Twitter as their platform. This isn’t the first time women have spoken about their traumas, but hopefully, this is the first time they’re heard. Too many rape jokes have been made, too many times a woman was dismissed or told she’s lying, too many times we have silenced those who need to talk.

#MeToo has spark conversations about how men shouldn’t need a relationship with women to respect them. Men who say being a father has changed their perspective on sexual assault and harassment claims should not need to have a daughter to realize women are people too, not someone’s daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife but instead a person who shouldn’t be assaulted or harassed on the streets.

Of course, the hashtag isn’t just for women. 26% of gay men, 37% of bisexual men, 29% of heterosexual men, and 12% of transgender youth experience some sort of sexual harassment or assault.

There are people who will tell you to be grateful that you were only harassed instead of raped. Fuck that. No one should have to be grateful that they “didn’t get it as bad.” No one should be grateful that they were harassed. When you tell a victim to be grateful, you tell them to shut up.

Sexual assault is disgustingly common in the United States. Most people don’t know a woman who hasn’t been abused. There are plenty of people who didn’t participate in #MeToo because they felt like what happened to them wasn’t bad enough. For those who didn’t post for other reasons: you don’t have to prove your pain to others to show how often it happens.