#MeToo is a popular hashtag, which marks the posts reporting the information on the cases of sexual harassment or showing solidarity with its victims. It was widely used in the whole world in 2017, and by now, it features dozens of millions of posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. However, few people know that the Me Too movement was launched more than ten years back, before the era of hashtags, on My Space, by activist Tarana Burke. This paper is dedicated to revealing the real story behind the Me Too campaign.
The History of the Movement
The idea of the movement appeared in 1997 when Burke talked to a 13-year-old girl, who shared her sexual abuse experience (Gill & Orgad, 2018). This episode deeply impressed Burke, as she understood that she, as well as thousands of other women, feels uncomfortable to say “me too,” sharing her story of sexual abuse with others. The understanding that numerous women, while needing psychological help and support, feel ashamed to speak about their experiences, gave a push to start the campaign. Thus, her first nonprofit organization Just Be Inc. was launched in 2006.
The NGO was providing a medium through which thousands of women who suffered from sexual abuse could get support and understanding from others, seeing how numerous they are. One of the key goals was to involve society, exposing the scale of the problem of sexual harassment. Another idea was to encourage people who witness such cases not to stay indifferent and to report the crimes they see (Gill & Orgad, 2018). Even though this movement in the past decade helped many women who suffered from sexual harassment and assault, it was only the first stage of its history.
The Wave of 2017
Public resonance occurred after Alyssa Milano joined this movement in 2017, as social media exploded with tweets telling thousands of sexual violence stories. #MeToo hashtag has become popular on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, reaching an incredible number of 12 million posts in the very first 24 hours (Gill & Orgad, 2018). The boom of interest that served as a background for the success of Milano’s action happened probably due to the Weinstein wave. It started a few weeks prior when the information about the abusive behavior of Harvey Weinstein leaked in media. This Hollywood film director was accused of numerous cases of sexual harassment of film stars and staff. The information about his crimes caused a so-called Weinstein effect, which many people, by mistake, consider the trigger to the start of the Me Too campaign (Gill & Orgad, 2018). The history behind #MeToo is much longer, and this effect was just one of the steps that helped to increase social awareness of the problem of sexual abuse.
The history of Me Too counts a dozen years, and currently, it is only at the beginning of its path. Now the Me Too community encourages society to take further steps on disclosing facts of injustice to black, Latino, and other women, as well as revealing the stories of harassment of men. Even though the popularity of this campaign is declining after the peak of the powerful Weinstein wave, the goal of Burke is to keep on popularizing the movement. Its idea remains relevant as long as the cases of sexual abuse happen; the challenge of every human remains not to stay indifferent and to provide support to the victims of sexual assault.
Gill, R., & Orgad, S. (2018). The shifting terrain of sex and power: From the ‘sexualization of culture’ to #MeToo. Sexualities, 21(8), 1313-1324.