The #MeToo Movement, Then and Now

Written by Rabea Ali

“Me Too” posts are popping up on everyone’s feed this week, a movement that erupted after a tweet from Alyssa Milano in which she invited women to share their stories of rape, sexual assault and harassment. By Monday morning, the movement had exploded and thousands of women had left comments and shared their stories on different social media platforms. They were joined by a few men who posted “I Have” as remorse for their past actions towards women.

Milano stated the idea was to “elevate the Harvey Weinstein conversation” and allowed for a glimpse into the sheer number of women who are harassed and victimized on a daily basis. Milano spoke in a phone interview and mentioned the most important aspect of this movement was the shift in conversation “away from the predator and to the victim.” 

Women all over the world spoke out after Milano’s tweet. Aly Tadros, a Texas musician, considered herself lucky for she had the help of an advocacy organization. However, in the end, her perpetrator had money and connections and struck a plea deal.

Women all over the world spoke out after Milano’s tweet.

Like many others, Tadros “feared the stigma” and kept the assault a secret in the beginning. Najwa Zebian, famous poet, spoke out and tweeted, “I was blamed for it. I was told not to talk about it. I was told that it wasn’t that bad. I was told to get over it.” Unfortunately, this statement reflects the reality of many women who are forced to “get over” sexual assault and stigmatized for speaking out against these horrendous actions.

However, despite being credited with the movement, Milano was not its beginning. The “Me Too” movement began roughly 10 years ago by Tarana Burke, a woman of color. Her aim for the movement was similar to the online trends, to unify those who had been victimized by sexual assault. Burke insisted it was not meant to be a “hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow, but rather a phrase used from survivor to survivor to let others know they were not alone and that a movement for healing was possible.” While Burke salutes Milano’s actions and the results of the online campaign, she felt it should not be used as a “conversation starter” but rather as a term from victim to victim speaking to each other for healing.

Scrolling through my own feed, I stumbled upon countless posts where women spoke out and others were horrified to learn just how many of their family members, friends and colleagues had been victimized. Personally, alongside many other women, I had the battle of whether or not to share my stories. Upon deciding to share, I realized I wasn’t sure which experience of sexual assault to write about, because there had been too many. That mere fact, written in a post, led to dozens of men commenting they’d never realized so many women had not only been victimized, but had been harassed multiple times.

Overall, while Milano did not begin the “Me Too” campaign , she utilized her audience to begin a revolution amongst society. The campaign inspired thousands of women to come out with their stories and even inspired men to atone for their past deeds by posting “I Have.”