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Why I’m Not Writing Me Too as a Facebook Status

 

    The recent flood of the words “Me too” on Facebook timelines comes from the actress Alyssa Milano, who is known for the TV show Charmed. The hashtag was actually created ten years ago by black women’s rights activist Tarana Burke. The movement began to help young women of color who had been sexually abused. Burke never meant for it to be a viral movement. Instead, she was trying to create a community. This resurgence of it is coming in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations and during a time where more media attention is being devoted to sexual assault than ever before.

 

    Here’s the Facebook post that’s been going around:

 

 

    It’s a pretty tame viral movement, as far as these things go. But it’s also an uncomfortable one for many people. As a viral hashtag, it asks people to speak out, to tell people on their Facebook feeds who are practically strangers about what may very well have been the most traumatic incident of their lives. And yes, while it is important to talk about sexual assault and sexual harassment, it is very possible that there are people out there who have been revictimized by this and by some of the people who are demanding people come forward with their stories.

    In reading articles in the wake of this, I’ve read the stories of women whose abusers have contacted them, sometimes decades later. Some of them are asking for forgiveness. Others are asking if they even did anything wrong. Still others are threatening women to stay silent.

    And in the wake of all of that, there are both those who are being blamed and those who are being accused. While this does not come up in the example above, some were calling out only to female sexual assault victims and were implicitly blaming male abusers. While female and nonbinary victims may be the majority, male victims are in some ways even more silenced within our already prevalent culture of silence. As the Huffington Post says, “The social media campaign is, of course, intended as a wake-up call for men.” Also, to call out only men who commit assaults is to at least through silence condone the women who have assaulted others, whether men, women, or children.

    While not everyone has been doing this and on my own Facebook feed I have seen people very careful to not use gendered language, but that has not been the experience all over the internet. And while sexual assault and harassment have been largely discussed as women’s issues, an important part of feminism in the 21st century is inclusion. And part of that inclusion is of men and nonbinary people who have experienced sexual abuse in any capacity.

    So while tweeting #MeToo and writing it on Facebook statuses and talking about it is a good step towards bringing sexual assault to the forefront of the national conversation about feminist issues, a viral movement that’s exploiting survivors’ pain for the notice of men isn’t a movement that I can take part in. While this movement is empowering some, it is hurting others and we cannot forget those who are left behind by movements like these.

 

Claire Rhode is a junior double majoring in creative writing and history. She is the senior editor of Chatham's Her Campus chapter and also edits for Mighty Quill Books and the Minor Bird. You can also read her work on InMotion and Fauna's blogs.
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