#MeToo

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#MeToo

 

Over the last weeks, there has been a widespread campaign aimed to inform the public about sexual harassment and assault, using the hashtag "metoo" across social media. The campaign was originally created by Tarana Burke, but went viral when Alyssa Milano posted the following tweet, after the news broke that film producer and exec Harvey Weinstein had assaulted and harassed multiple female celebrities: 

Source: Alyssa Milano's twitter account // https://twitter.com/Alyssa_Milano/status/919659438700670976/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F10%2F16%2Ftechnology%2Fmetoo-twitter-facebook.html

 

She then urged women to reply to the tweet with "me too".

However, the phrase got a much greater meaning, as it took off and spread all over social media. Some women, and a few men and nonbinary people simply used the hashtag, while others shared detailed stories of rape, stalking, grouping, threats, and other forms of sexual harassment and assault. All in all, it showed that men's sexist and violent treatment of women is not limited to a few women, but, as most women know, is a widespread phenomenon that concerns most - if not all - women. I even saw my incredibly conservative former teacher write that she had experienced sexual harassment. For me as a victim of multiple cases of sexual harassment and assault, it was a relief, in a sense, to see that I by no means am alone in my experiences. It has somehow made the horrific memories and experiences somewhat more bearable, and has confirmed the feelings I have had for a while; that I have an extensive sisterhood to lean on.

On the other hand, I keep getting surprised by the resurfacing of all the memories of sexual harassment and assault that I had managed to repress from my memory. When reading about similar experiences, and ending up in multiple conversations about the movement, I kept remembering more horrible stuff men have done to me in the past. Just the other day, I was reminded of the old man who lived at the elderly home I worked at for a few weeks when I was 15. I never told anyone this, but on the first day my co-worker pulled me aside, telling me to stay away from him, as he had told her that he wanted to have sex with me. This was not even the first time I was sexualized by older men, and I was just 15, just out of puberty. But this should not happen to anyone. 

 

Source: Anjali Krishna // http://anjalikrishnan.tumblr.com/post/166473428848

 

But somehow, as with any movement led by women, it seems there has been extensive criticism and outrage. The biggest criticisers have been men, but some women have also criticised the movement. One example has to do with some victims naming their rapists, and the perpetrators of the crimes against them. Some are against this, claiming that everyone is innocent of a crime until proven otherwise. Many women have therefore been accused of lying, especially when these men have been taken to court but not been found guilty. The problem with this argument, however, is that the justice system has repeatedly failed to protect women against assault. It truly says something when a woman has extensive evidence, yet the defence finds a way to get around it. There is an example in Sweden, where a woman was raped, in spite of repeatedly saying no, and the judge claimed she was into BDSM and let the rapist go. Furthermore, there is a myth that a lot of women falsely accuse men of rape, for whatever reasons. But statistics show that in the U.S., only 2-8 % of the accusations about rape are false, and the numbers are similar in the UK. 

 

Source: Grrrl Army // https://hellishrebuke.com/2016/06/13/screaming-without-being-heard-rape-culture-in-hardcore/comment-page-1/

 

Another criticism is claiming that it is an expression of hate towards men, and for instance that "men cannot even flirt anymore", or say hello to a woman on the street. It is tragic how, once again, a feminist movement becomes so misunderstood it turns men into victims. What they seem to forget is that men are victims of sex crime as well, albeit not as many as among women. Also, when women cannot feel safe while walking outside, at home, or basically anywhere, as they have been harassed and assaulted in all of these places, is men's fear of saying “hi” or flirting really the most pressing issue?

It is possible to flirt with and greet a stranger without taking it too far. Just learn how to take a no for an answer, and to see when someone is uninterested in having a conversation with you, and you will be fine. There have been so many times when strange men have come up to talk to me, and I have clearly told them I do not want to as it makes me uncomfortable, and I have been in these situations before, where they always lead to them flirting with me and asking for my number. Telling them that I do not want to talk should not make them call me slurs, or prompt them to ask further questions.

This campaign does not only show how widespread these issues are, it is also a call for men to change their behaviour, and to stand up for women and against sexism. 

 

Source: Google Images 

 

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