In the weeks since a New York Times report opened the floodgates to allegations of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, broader conversations have emerged that point to the pervasiveness of sexual abuse outside of Hollywood. On Sunday evening, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted an invitation for people who had experienced sexual assault or harassment to reply with “Me too” in order to show how widespread this abuse really is. Because let’s be honest — who among us hasn’t?
#MeToo has since become an explosive movement across social media platforms, with thousands of women, as well as men, coming forward to voice their own experiences of harassment and assault. But, between the lines, the campaign has largely emerged as a plea for men to do better at respecting women and listening to (and believing) women’s stories.
People have also used the hashtag to demand that we take men’s experiences of abuse seriously:
#MeToo is a powerful campaign for visibility and showing the pervasiveness of a problem experienced by far too many people, a majority of them women. But, ultimately, #MeToo is about accountability from the people who don’t bat an eyelash about catcalling a stranger on the street or touching someone without that person’s consent.
As many have pointed out in the tweets above, the burden of responsibility to end violence should not fall on victims. Rather, the onus is on the (mostly male) perpetrators of sexual violence and harassment to step up and be better, to recognize the basic humanity of fellow men and women, and for the men around them to stop being willfully blind to the realities of their predation. #MeToo is about showing the human face of a problem but more than that, it’s a demand that men #DoBetter.
For resources on what to do if you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, visit RAINN here.
(Photo via Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)