The #MeToo Movement

#MeToo has spread virally on social media beginning in October 2017.
#MeToo has spread virally on social media beginning in October 2017.

"#Metoo" is a two-word hashtag used in social media to condemn sexual harassment and assault in the wake of sexual misdemeanor allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. ‘’Me too’’ was introduced in social media in October 2017 and has since spread virally. Although Tatiana Burke created the phrase years earlier, it was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano. Milano encouraged women to tweet #MeToo to publicize their experiences and demonstrate the extensive nature of misogynistic behaviors, and this inspired many people, including celebrities, to come forward and share their experiences.

What Is the Origin of the Phrase "Me Too"?

Social activist Tarana Burke created the "Me Too" phrase on the MySpace social network in 2006 as part of her campaign to promote "empowerment through empathy" among women of color in underprivileged communities who have been sexually abused. Burke was inspired to use the phrase after she was unable to reply to a 13-year-old girl who told her that she had been sexually abused. Burke wished she had just told the girl "me too."

Alyssa Milano encouraged the spread of the phrase "Me Too" as an awareness campaign to expose the ubiquity of sexual assault and harassment. Milano believed that if all women who have undergone this ordeal wrote ‘’Me too’’ as their social media status, then magnitude of the issue would be recognized. The actress attributed ‘’Me too’’ to Burke, and acknowledged her inspiring and heartwarming story.

Impact of the #MeToo Hashtag

By October 15, 2017, more than 200,000 women had used the #MeToo hashtag, and by October 16, 2017, it had been tweeted over 500,000 times. The phrase was used by over 4.7 million Facebook users in twelve million posts within the first twenty-four hours. Facebook reported that over 45% of American users had a friend who used the phrase.

Numerous male celebrities, such as Terry Crews, have responded with their harassment and abuse experiences, while others have acknowledged their past behaviors against women and created the hashtag "HowIWillChange". The hashtag generated numerous discussions about the issue in politics, academia, the sciences, and the music industry.

In politics, numerous statehouses, including Rhode Island, Oregon, California, and Illinois, responded to sexual harassment allegations which were surfaced by this campaign. Many female politicians spoke out about their own experiences, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Heidi Heitkamp, and Claire McCaskill. Congresswoman Jackie Speier introduced a bill to help make it easier to report sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

In the music industry, the band Veruca Salt used the hashtag to air sexual harassment allegations against screenwriter and film director James Toback. Margaret Osborn, former band member of the Crystal Castles, used the phrase to share her alleged history of harassments by one of her bandmates.

The phrase has trended in over 65 nations including England, the Philippines, France, and Pakistan. France uses the phrase "BalanceTonPorc," which translates to "DenounceYourPig," and has encouraged women to post the names of their alleged sexual abusers. Spain uses #YoTambién and Italian women posted their experiences of assault under the phrase #QuellaVoltaChe.


More in Society