Perplexed by the #MeToo hashtags on social media yesterday and today? You can thank Alyssa Milano, not coincidentally longtime Charmed co-star to Rose McGowan (as McGowan has been a leading public figure in the Harry Weinstein sexual assault allegations, which spurred Milano’s Tweet).
Alyssa sparked the hashtag on Twitter last night (15/10) , asking women who had been sexually assaulted or harassed* to reply to her Tweet with #MeToo.
The hashtag was to shed a light on ‘the magnitude of the problem’.
Reactions to this hashtag have varied from the scarily and sadly relatable to the usual aggressive ‘What about men?’ keyboard warriors.
*take a moment to wish these non-constructive commenters some empathy and common sense, so that they may perhaps comprehend why hijacking a female movement with their ‘equal’ (and I am sure highly frightening, however not life-threatening or common) experiences, is, no matter your intention (obviously not FOR the cause though) ultimately trivializing and devaluing the cause- may they understand that female empowerment does not detract from male power and that equality should not be intimidating, if masculine ego is not based on dominance over femininity.*
Hashtags like this may or may not be actively helping (though personally, I have been sexually assaulted/harassed more times than I care to think about, and I want people to know that this is normal and that is NOT OKAY). Hashtag #MeToo if you feel that way while you’re at it. If it makes one other person realize that women are not ‘exaggerating’ or ‘overreacting’, then that’s one less person I need to pray for.
And so I do implore, when you see your newsfeed flooded with #MeToo ‘s, that you resist the urge to smirk or scoff. As clearly intended by Milano to be demonstrated, it is not rare, it is not an exclusive club belonging to one act of assault, it is not about he or she, it is simply to say ‘Me too. You are not alone. I will allow others to invalidate your experience or continue to underplay/be complicit with this.’
*This article refers to the legal definition of both ‘sexual harassment’ and ‘sexual assault’. See the full list of acts that define ‘sexual assault’ in SA here. The charge ranges from flashing your genitals to someone who did not consent, to the height of rape. Sexual harassment is the ‘unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature’.
By Zoya Pon.