“Me too” trend creates necessary virtual community for victims


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The #me too has spread across the internet creating a sense of trust and community among victims of sexual assault.

By Laura Sneller, Opinions Editor

After sexual assault and harassment allegations toward movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have surfaced, women around the world are taking to social media to share their own stories in regards to rape and sexual harassment using the handle #MeToo. The hashtag first gained popularity when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a call-out to victims to show the magnitude of the problem.

The #MeToo social media movement has served to bring light to the overwhelming problem of sexual assault and harassment. While the gravity of these issues tends to be ignored society, this hashtag demands action against those accused of sexual harassment and assault. It also creates a warm, understanding community between survivors by validating people’s stories and experiences.

According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.

With the wide range of effects that sexual assault can have on people, it comes as a surprise that these issues are only now entering the public eye. A plethora of victims have flocked to social media to cope with these experiences with little to no support, which must be changed. #MeToo helps create a safe space for survivors to at least share their stories if they want to, possibly helping them cope by connecting with other survivors.

According to the National Sex Offender Public Website, approximately only 30 percent of cases of sexual abuse are reported to authorities, and males tend to not report their victimization. Some even are forced through societal pressure to feel proud about their sexual activity, especially if it occurs in their teenage years when sex is considered by many as an initiation into adulthood.

The toxic notion that sexual activity at an early age is something desirable for men creates an environment that makes male victims feel as if they have no one to turn to. The #MeToo movement creates a sense of community for everyone, including men, to share their stories and have some type of support they have not had before.

Besides Hollywood, where many of these secual harassment allegation have been recently surfacing, other, more common workplaces are also common grounds for sexual assault.

According to the Washington Post, many female senators, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, have experienced sexual harassment in Congress.

Even though the workplace is supposed to be a place where people behave professionally, that does not stop men, especially those in higher positions of power than their female counterparts, from sexually harassing their coworkers. Women have to constantly be aware and have to endure this harassment in silence, usually for the sake of their own employment.

However, a simply hashtag does not have enough power to completely change how sexual assault and harassment is handled by authorities. The sharing of stories on social media do not tend to lead to police reports. Nevertheless, the creation of a helping and caring environment where victims can share their experiences with each others and receive some support is still a major step for women in coping with the post-traumatic stress that often follows cases of sexual assault.

This hashtag is taking to many social media outlets, especially Twitter, which means that it is reaching teens as well. It will thus have the effect of helping many teens, including CHS students, to share their experiences with sexual harassment in a supportive, and sometimes anonymous environment as well as encourages them not to be silent if it happens to themselves or their peers in the future.

Hopefully instances sexual assault and harassment will decrease in the years to come, but unfortunately, that is not a guarantee. This is a deeply normalized and ignored problem in our society, as is the sexist system that it subtly promotes. However, with the increased awareness of sexism and sexual assault, more reports of these cases will be brought to light and the perpetrators will be punished. #MeToo is small step in the improvement of these conditions, but it does further our societal evolution by bringing the magnitude of these problems to the public eye.