#MeToo Campaign Reveals Global Magnitude of Sexual Misconduct

By Shauna Mazenes

 

McKayla Maroney comes out with disturbing sexual assault allegation in light of Harvey Weinstein scandal

Photo Courtesy: Pintrest

Countless women are coming forward and unifying as sexual assault survivors on social media through the new hashtag #MeToo, revealing that sexual misconduct is not just a Hollywood problem.

The #MeToo campaign erupted shortly after innumerable actresses came forward with sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein.

Widespread recognition of the hashtag kicked off on Twitter when actress, Alyssa Milano, posted a screenshot on October 15th introducing the idea, tweeting “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” she said.

Tarana Burke, founder of non-profit organization for sexual assault survivors, Just Be Inc., is the originator of the movement and committed her life to helping victims of sexual misconduct in 1997 through her campaign, titling it ‘me too.’ 

This hashtag has provided a platform for people everywhere to share their compelling and once-silenced stories of sexual misconduct, including former USA gymnast, McKayla Maroney. Maroney tweeted a picture on October 18th at 12:14 am, revealing that former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar molested her since the age of 13 up until she left the sport.

 

Maroney said she hopes that the issue of sexual assault will come to an end without putting the dreams and careers of the survivors in jeopardy.

“Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back,” she said.

Since then Maroney’s account has been deleted. Twitter itself has publicly acknowledged Maroney’s statement and the #metoo movement by creating a moment-- a section on Twitter showcasing the best of what is circulating-- for her story. The moment has pinned some supportive and widely interactive tweets.

Whitney McIntosh, a Twitter user whose tweet was showcased in the moment said, “These are powerful, necessary words from McKayla Maroney. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to share this.”

Celebrities have also took to Twitter to express their support for the movement and for those who have spoken up. On October 19th, Ellen Degeneres publically applauded everyone on Twitter and on her show for having the courage to speak up through the hashtag. She said that it is not a “female or male thing” nor is it “a Hollywood or political thing,” but more so “a human thing” that happens everywhere around the world.

“Part of the problem is that from a young age girls are taught to stay quiet and be nice and that boys are stronger and somehow we are less than. That is why it is hard for us to speak out, and even when we do speak out people don’t believe us. But there is power in numbers and: good for us. Good for everyone speaking out,” Degeneres said.

Sexual harassment is widespread in Canada and more than half of Canadian women have been subjected to “unwanted sexual pressure,” according to a poll released yesterday by Abacus Data.

Since the movement started, an incomplete number of “powerful men” have been accused of sexual harassment, such as Kevin Spacey, James Toback, Ben Affleck and George H.W. Bush, according to CNN.

There is controversy within this movement, as second-year Ryerson student Catherine Abes said the movement is very blanketed and does not encompass the whole problem nor reflect an intersectional perspective.

“Sexual violence and sexual harassment disproportionately affects different groups of women, and that wasn’t truly recognized within this movement. The thing is, not everyone is going to be in a position where they can come forward and talk about it. It’s not just a personal thing, it can also intersect with things like race, it could intersect with things like class, they might not have the resources and might not be in a comfortable position to come forward and talk about it,” she said. “It wasn’t something that was able to represent all women.”

In addition to unifying on the web, there is a march for the movement happening on Saturday December 2nd at 12 pm in Queen’s Park, Toronto.