It’s easy to feel scared, hopeless, and distraught in the wake of recent news regarding Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long history of sexual abuse and harassment. But people all over the world—including a number of celebrities—are trying to take back some power by turning to social media and letting sexual abuse survivors know that they’re not alone.
The #MeToo social media campaign launched this weekend when actor Alyssa Milano, best known for her starring role as Phoebe on Charmed, sent out a tweet saying, “Suggested by a friend: “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.”
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
Since Milano’s initial tweet, thousands of people have joined the conversation by using the hashtag ‘MeToo’ on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Many celebrities, including Rosario Dawson, Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, Gabrielle Union, and Lady Gaga, are using the campaign to share their own experiences with sexual abuse and support those who have been victims of sexual abuse in the past.
Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood used the #MeToo campaign to get personal, tweeting that she has “struggled with long term PTSD for years” due to having been sexually assaulted. Wood also admitted that though she’s had difficulty recovering after being sexually assaulted, her mental and physical well-being is slowly but surely improving.
Through years of trial & error, strains on my relationships, intense therapy & self help I am starting to notice a real change. Not out–
— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) October 16, 2017
The #MeToo movement is, in part, a response to Friday’s #WomenBoycottTwitter campaign, during which many female (and several male) Twitter users refrained from tweeting to express their support for Rose McGowan, an actor and one of Milano’s Charmed co-stars. The day of silence originated when McGowan’s Twitter account was suspended after she posted a number of angry tweets directed at Weinstein, including one containing a personal phone number.
Many supported the #WomenBoycottTwitter campaign, but others—including author and activist Roxanne Gay—suggested that it may be more useful for sexual abuse victims to raise their voices rather than silence them. Thus, the #MeToo movement (and the #WomenWhoRoar movement) was born.
Though Milano and dozens of celebrities are participating in the #MeToo campaign, the stories don’t stop there. Thousands of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram users are also using the hashtag, demonstrating that sexual abuse and harassment, unfortunately, extends far beyond the entertainment industry.
The fact that Milano’ tweet has received over 35 thousand replies (and counting) is, on one hand, distressing and disappointing. But the #MeToo campaign has nonetheless helped confirm the fact that sexual harassment can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and that action must be taken in order to change that.