If you happen to be a woke millennial or just part of the majority of the population who has access to social media, you might have seen the recent hashtag that’s been trending on both different social media websites. The hashtag? #MeToo. Debuting because of the scandal with Harvey Weinstein, wherein the famed Hollywood celebrity was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault, the movement is meant to show support for sexual assault and harassment victims, and to encourage and de-stigmatize speaking out about it (Brinded, 2017). Over the past week, many took to social media to share their stories and post supportive messages to support those participating in the movement. However, there are still many who are wondering what exactly is the impact and relevance of this type of phenomenon. Today, we take a deeper look into #MeToo as we attempt to make sense of where exactly this movement is going, and what that means for the rest of us.
About 35 percent of women around the world have experienced a form of sexual violence, and an estimated more than 120 million women have been forced to commit sexual acts at one point or another ("Facts and figures: Ending violence against women", 2017). Despite these alarming figures, studies show that more often than not, incidences of rape and sexual violence often go unreported. For example, one study based in London found that in a group of 1600 women who were surveyed on sexual assault, more than 80 percent of those who had been assaulted said they had never told the police, and about 29 percent said that they told nobody, not even friends and family, of what happened (Lakhani, 2012). Most victims of sexual violence often refuse or are hesitant to report the crime due to a variety of reasons, the most common one’s being lack of action and response from the justice system, acts of victim blaming from those around them, poor reception from media, and fear of being shamed by those around them (Campbell & Raja, 2017). These types of responses from society regarding sexual assault are what fuel the stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence, and it is this silence that #MeToo aims to address.
Sexual violence is not only just about sex, but about power and control as well (Benjamin, 2017). These offenders feed off of their victims’ silence, and continue to go about their lives safe with the knowledge that society’s responses to sexual assault will ensure that what they did will never be found out. This is where the importance of #MeToo comes in. The movement not only draws some much-needed attention towards sexual assault, but it also gives others the courage to speak out and realize that they are not alone. Some of the crucial steps towards healing from sexual violence include reaching out to people, and realizing that you are not alone (Smith & Seagal, 2017). The #MeToo movement provides a way for people to not only share their stories as a way of recognizing what happened, but it also allows people to realize that there are others out there who have gone through the same thing, and many more who are willing to help. Hearing stories of sexual assault, even for those who have never been victims of it, also allow others to think of ways they can help provide change and support to those around them.
Some of you may be wondering, “Why does Ilya care so much about #MeToo?” As a sex toy shop, one of our advocacies is ensuring everyone is able to explore sex and sexuality in a safe and comfortable manner. Sexual harassment and violence are things we strongly condemn, and we aim to support all those who have been affected by them or stand against them. Ultimately, the #MeToo’s significance lies in its power to create discussion and attention to a topic that’s been shoved in stigma and silence for far too long, and for those affected by sexual violence, simply doing that can create all the difference in the world.
Benjamin, L. (2017). Myths about rape. SARSAS. Retrieved 1 November 2017, from https://www.sarsas.org.uk/myths-about-rape/
Brinded, L. (2017). The unexpected, paradigm-shifting power of #MeToo. Quartz. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from https://qz.com/1104276/metoo/
Campbell, R., & Raja, S. (2017). Secondary Victimization of Rape Victims: Insights from Mental Health Professionals Who Treat Survivors of Violence. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from http://Secondary Victimization of Rape Victims: Insights from Mental HealthProfessionals Who Treat Survivors of Violence
Facts and figures: Ending violence against women. (2017). UN Women. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures
Lakhani, N. (2012). Unreported rapes: the silent shame. The Independent. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/unreported-rapes-the-silent-shame-7561636.html
Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2017). Recovering from Rape and Sexual Trauma: Tips for Healing. Helpguide.org. Retrieved 1 November 2017, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/recovering-from-rape-and-sexual-trauma.htm
By: AJ Lim