In response to the highly publicized sexual assault charges brought against powerful men in the worlds of art, Hollywood and news media, an outcry of “me too” came from women who have suffered similar abuses. These women had faced shaming, blaming and outright dismissal of their experiences in the past.
In a group effort to stop the tradition of tolerance and to spread awareness about sexual assault, women posted the hashtag “#metoo” on social media, which was met with an outpour of support. The hashtag served as a way for women to take back the power stolen by their abusers and worked to ensure that such abuse would no longer be swept under the rug.
Many Piedmont students added their voices to the social media conversation.
“When #metoo showed up on my feed, I knew I needed to speak up, because every day so many girls, and guys, wake up feeling completely alone,” said one Piedmont freshman. “They need to know that someone out there wants to help, and they surely aren’t alone. It can be really hard if people that supposedly care about you don’t believe what you have to say, but it is a real issue, and if you keep talking, someone will listen.”
Some students felt nervous talking about their decision to share their experience and contribute to #metoo. Sexual harassment and abuse is a hard subject to talk about, and it can be triggering for people who have gone through such traumatic events. One student said she had to avoid Facebook because the hashtag was so triggering.
Some women feared backlash from the people who read their posts, possibly even from their own abusers. Sadly, this did happen to some who used the hashtag.
Some people have experienced abuse in the past, but struggle with deciding whether or not their experiences “qualify” as such. This is one reason why the #metoo movement is so powerful.
Women and men need to discuss and delineate what qualifies as abuse and harassment. You could be sexually harassed and not even know, and vice versa.
In a culture that has been perpetuating sexual harassment for ages, it’s so common and so tolerated that the only way for change to take place is for people to speak up, speak out, start conversations and say, me too.