The #metoo movement is an ongoing hashtag campaign that has brought popular and cultural awareness to sexual assault and everyday gendered violence. The tweet originated in October 2017 by actress Alyssa Milano, just days after The New York Times released a investigative article detailing sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Since then, #metoo explosively circulated on all major social media outlets, being used over half a million times in the first 24 hours alone. While a grassroots version of the “me too” movement was initiated 10 years earlier by activist Tarana Burke to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities “where rape crisis centers and sexual assault workers weren’t going,” Milano’s celebrity no doubt allowed the conversation to travel more broadly. The hashtag has provided a forum for victims of sexual assault and harassment to add their voices and experience to a collective conversation. As more and more individuals (mostly women) have shared their experiences, the widespread prevalence of everyday harassment has become an important and widely discussed issue.
How does the massive popularity of this hashtag speak to the prevalence and invisibility of sexual assault and harassment?
Should celebrities use the power of their platforms to promote change? Why or why not?
Is social media an effective tool for advocacy? Why or why not?
What type of emotions do you think the hashtag and the resulting sharing of stories has conjured for people? Have you used this hashtag on social media? Would you feel comfortable sharing a #metoo story in that or any other forum?
The attribution of the hashtag to Milano (and the press who gave her credit) was widely critiqued for co-opting a movement initiated by Burke in and for the black community. Burke and Milano subsequently joined together in many media appearances.