Like nearly everyone else, we watched in amazement as the #MeToo movement took hold on social media. On Sunday, actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women to tweet out #MeToo if they had experienced sexual harassment or assault, a campaign conceived years earlier by activist Tarana Burke. As of this writing, more than 12 million #MeToo posts have been shared on Facebook and the hashtag has been used more than 500,000 times on Twitter.
It is astonishing—and heartening—to see so much attention paid to sexual violence. And because sexual violence is experienced by people of all genders, we were also heartened to see the campaign expanding to include all survivors of sexual violence.
At the same time, #MeToo can also be confusing and complicated. As our Development Director Kristy Cullivan Sierra notes in a personal post about the viral #MeToo movement:
"We seem to have arrived at the point where more people are willing to accept that sexual violence is a major problem in our society. Have we yet reached the point where people—other than survivors—are going to take some responsibility for addressing the problem?"
Survivors don't have a responsibility to participate in #MeToo. While we know for some it can be empowering, the responsibility for raising awareness continues to fall on the shoulders of survivors when deciding to participate in these campaigns. They may feel pressured to do so given how quickly this one has gone viral. (Facebook estimates that nearly 50% of people in the United States are Facebook friends with someone who has shared a #MeToo post.) But raising awareness is a responsibility everyone must share.
Wondering what to do in the face of #MeToo?
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed by #MeToo and want to talk with someone about it, you can call our hotline anytime, day or night, at 800-841-8371.
- Remember to take care of yourself in other ways, too, whether it’s logging off and going for a walk, talking with friends, or other self-care activities that work for you.
- Post information about BARCC and resources for survivors on your social media accounts! Share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and beyond.
- Post ways that friends and family members can support survivors on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and anywhere else you connect with people!
- Request a consent or bystander training from BARCC for your workplace, school, or faith community, so you can call out and prevent sexual violence in your communities.
- Learn more about sexual violence and ways you can change the culture so that sexual harassment and assault don't happen in the first place.
If you’re interested in reading more about my take on the #MeToo movement, you might like this interview with Metro Boston.