#MeToo, ending the silence of sexual harassment in Taiwan
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
For the past three weeks, #MeToo has been trending on social media such as Facebook and Twitter around the globe. Maybe you’ve seen people sharing this status along with the hashtag, but what exactly does it stand for?
What is #MeToo?
The hashtag started to call out Harvey Weinstein, the producer who was accused of having sexually harassed women for nearly three decades. An investigation by the New York Times this month revealed that Weinstein had been using his status in the entertainment industry to take advantage of women, mostly young girls who were about to start their career.
The hashtag turned into a movement after actress Alyssa Milano went on Twitter and wrote, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Since then, millions of sexual harassment and assault survivors worldwide have been sharing their personal experiences through various social platforms.
Why didn’t #MeToo lead a movement of similar scale in Taiwan?
Although people are sharing personal experiences of #metoo in Taiwan, the scale of survivors showing support or disclosing sexual harassment they have faced is relatively small. Maybe Taiwanese culture has more tolerance and less confrontation, or perhaps to a lot of people, the scope of sexual harassment has not yet to been seen.
Similar to most places in the world, sexual harassment and sexual assault in Taiwan have long been a problem. From the harassment female politician face in public spaces to the assault in relationships that both sides are of unequal status, it happens constantly and the repetition has not stopped. Besides the scale of sexual harassment, the questions we would also like to ask are where did the perpetrators go? What happened when victims / survivors speak up?
Common responses and questions faced by sexual assault survivors:
“Maybe it’s because you’re too pretty.”
“Why didn’t you fight back?”
“What were you wearing? You need to learn to protect yourself.”
Sexual harassment is often considered as compliment to the victims’ appearances and they are expected to feel flattered. But harassment should not be taken as a way to measure one’s outer beauty and there is no reason to justify it.
Also, responses that question sexual harassment survivor’s effort to fight back and their decision on clothing should stop. During the attack, people often encounter a temporary immobility that keeps them from fighting back or asking for help. Sometimes they are simply paralyzed by the fear. Though women still make up most of the population, sexual harassment can occur to anyone and no one should be blamed for what they wear.
What can we do?
While the #MeToo movement is exposing the magnitude of the problem, we would also like to draw attention to the perpetrators. Sex- and gender-based violence have always been around and will still exist in the following decades, and that’s why we hope to have more discussions on the system; not only the victims but also how our society often ignore the perpetrators and perpetuate the problem.
We hope less doubts for the victims and more visibility of the perpetrators. We hope there can be no more victim blaming but more education on gender equality and respect.
To all the victims and survivors:
Yes, we hope there are more people standing up to voice their supports. But you don’t have to — you don’t have to do it now. You can share your story when you are ready. When the time comes, friends, family or those whom you trust most are the ones you can start with. Don’t worry about how your experiences may bother them. They will and we will listen to you. It is never useless to speak up; every voice counts.
Thank you for raising your voice in this movement and we stand with the rest of you. We believe that when more survivors share their stories and more perpetrators are called out, people will see how common sexual harassment is and lower the sexual violence rate in Taiwan.
Together, we can make a change.