#metoo: the hashtag that united the web
On the 15th of October 2017, Alyssa Milano sent a tweet that would change the way we deal with sexual assault forever. One sentence was all it took to unite the web: ‘’If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet’’.
#metoo was the movement of last year. However, it was really started by activist Tarana Burke back in 2006. Back then, the aim of the movement was to help young women of colour who had experienced sexual assault, and didn’t have the outlet to discuss what had happened to them. In Tarana Burke’s own words: ‘Sexual violence is deeply pervasive and touches everyone across race, class, gender and ability and we have to find a way to move the needle.’
Her movement most certainly shifted the needle. A platform had opened and is not going to close anytime soon. #metoo has allowed victims to speak openly about their abusers, finally bringing powerful serial assaulters to justice. The number of victims that have been silenced over the years was truly shocking, but #metoo has at long last opened the floodgates.
Now that we are in 2018, the movement is still having a significant impact. Spreading from the Hollywood scene to the UK, many of us in Britain have stood in solidarity with those who need our support. We have moved away from avoiding the subject of sexual abuse and, due to the media attention, we now accept we have a problem, and we need to come up with solutions to solve this once and for all.
#metoo began in the US, but the UK has now started its own campaigns, such as the Revolt Sexual Assault campaign. This campaign aims to ‘expose the real nature and extent of sexual assault and harassment experienced by students at university in the United Kingdom’. Because reporting or talking about sexual assault is incredibly hard, especially when you are a student who may be far from home and not have that same support network, this campaign gives students an outlet when they may otherwise not have one. A poll carried out by the online website the student room found that 50% of users experienced sexual assault when they were a student, and 8% had been raped. Revolt Sexual Assault uses the medium of Snapchat, in order students can tell their stories. The usage of Snapchat filters allows participants to remain anonymous, so that they can feel confident in telling their stories. This campaign ensures that students do not feel alone, hopefully encouraging others to share their situations. This domino effect will ensure that students are listened to, forcing society to change its attitude towards sexual assault. It is 2018. Sexual abuse should no longer be a taboo subject, and we need to talk it.
Over a decade has passed from the original metoo movement, and over a year since Twitter spread #metoo across the internet. The question is where do we go from here? We need to continue to talk about this topic, spread awareness of sexual assault and ensure people get the help they need. The University of Kent has a well being team who are there to offer support visit http://www.kent.ac.uk/studentwellbeing/counselling/index.html for more information.