Columnist looks at what happens next after campaign
For nearly two weeks following the allegations of sexual assault against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, people couldn’t scroll through their social media feeds without seeing the phrase, “me too.”
The dialogue on sexual assault was reignited in Hollywood after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged survivors of sexual assault to reply to a post where she revealed that she’d been sexually assaulted with the phrase, “me too.”
After her tweet, many credited Milano for the movement, but what people may not know is that the “Me Too” movement actually began 10 years ago by a black activist named Tarana Burke.
Burke created the movement to unify those who have been victimized by sexual violence, particularly those of color or underprivileged communities who are often left out of the conversation.
The goal of the “Me Too” campaign is to give people a sense of magnitude of the problem.
About a week after the movement took over social media, Twitter confirmed that more than 1.7 million tweets—by women and men—used the hashtag #MeToo.
It’s even more astonishing when we take into consideration the people who are victims but who didn’t feel comfortable posting the hashtag #MeToo.
Many Franklin College students, such as sophmore Kendall Hovis, posted in participation of the movement.
“It just broke my heart, and it made me feel so small compared to other people because so many people were posting it, and it made me realize that it happens to everyone,” Hovis said. “It doesn’t happen to just one person.”
In Franklin College’s annual report, we saw sexual assault numbers rise from five to nine reported incidents, but this is only a fraction of the number of incidents that actually occur on campus, according to Dean of Students Ellis Hall. Many more go unreported.
Just like the increase in reports, it’s good that more people are speaking up. But what should happen next?
Unfortunately to Hovis and many others scrolling through social media, it feels as if #MeToo was once everywhere and then suddenly it fell silent again.
“I think if people see the ‘Me Too’ thing, they should step up if they see something happen like at a party. They should step in and say something or if they talk to a friend and reach out to them if they posted ‘me too,’” Hovis said. I think the ‘Me Too’ was a good start but the second step would be just physically doing something like if you saw something happening.”
In our society, this and other personal topics tend to fall through the cracks because they aren’t often talked about. As a result, we don’t know how to go about these conversations and keep them going.
“I think that, in order to really make an impact, we need to start with younger generations and teach them, first of all, sex and healthy sex education, but then also talk very openly about these kinds of conversations and how to respect one another in a relationship,” Counselor Sara Kinder said.
For there to really be a change, our culture and society need to change.
Another problem that contributes to this larger issue is the misunderstanding of what is considered sexual assault or sexual violence.
“I think one of the hardest things is that it’s something that’s so important, but we don’t always necessarily have a space to talk about it openly,” Kinder said. “So even for people that might be confused about consent or different components of it that might not be malicious can have a really big impact on someone.”
We need to be open. We need to look out for one another. We need to better educate young people about safe sex. We need to speak up.
“I think there’s so many things that are just causing harm to our society as a whole, and it just starts at our culture and how that perpetuates it,” Kinder said.