EDITORIAL: #MeToo trend ignites unity, awareness
Popular hashtag shows great magnitude of sexual assault issues
With Domestic Abuse Awareness Month coming to a close, there are hopes that the messages and lessons that October brought remain in place. One of the movements that sparked up this month was the #MeToo movement on social media. The campaign originally started more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke but recently regained steam after the release of the many sexual assault allegations made against Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood. Actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter and urged anyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted to write “me too,” in order to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The tweet and the hashtag blew up, bringing in words of support from people from all spectrums of the site. The hashtag quickly took to other social media sites and did exactly what it was meant to do — expose the disturbingly great magnitude of the effects of sexual assault and its victims.
Opponents of this campaign argued that merely pointing out the problem does not solve it, but what these people fail to understand is that it can truly make a difference. Seeing the hashtag is supposed to both disturb you and comfort you. It is meant to disturb you because of the number of women and men, those you know well and those you know faintly of, that have been a victim of sexual assault or harassment. And it is supposed to comfort you if you, too, are a victim. It is supposed to show you that you are not alone and that if you feel comfortable enough to share your story, there are other people doing the same thing. And by sparking this chain of support and awareness, it is bringing light to a problem that may otherwise be taboo.
Where does the University fit into all of this? That is exactly the point.
Rutgers has been making great strides this month to show its support for those who have been victims of sexual assault and abuse. After the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance held a series of events for their “Turn the Campus Purple” campaign, it was clear that the University was making a statement that it has no tolerance for sexual violence. This was especially true in regard to the University’s “It’s On Us” rally, where sexual assault survivors shared their stories and former Vice President Joe Biden spoke about sexual violence. But even though the University has done well to address the issues of sexual violence on campus, as long as sexual assault is still prevalent, there is always more that can be done.
The main point of the #MeToo campaign is to bring attention to the victims in a way that will benefit them. This is not to say that all victims should come forward — everyone has a right to keep their personal history to himself or herself.
The #MeToo campaign is one of extreme importance in today’s world. It gives voice to those who have felt silenced by sexual violence and sends a loud message that this subject can no longer be hidden in oblivion. This campaign is a powerful one that can be the key to the right kind of conversation about sexual assault.