Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram last week, you may have wondered why #MeToo has suddenly taken over your social media feed. The hashtag began as a movement created by activist Tarana Burke to empower women of colour who survived sexual assault and exploitation. In the wake of over fifty sexual abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo became globally ubiquitous after actor Alyssa Milano, hoping to shed light on the breadth of sexual abuse, encouraging survivors to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault on social media using the hashtag. Twenty-four hours later, CNN reported that #MeToo had been tweeted over 500,000 times.
#MeToo matters for all of us, regardless of if you are a survivor of sexual abuse or an ally. It matters because if we want to dismantle rape culture, we are going to have to acknowledge its existence first. This means talking about it, and talking about it is a good thing. Giving survivors the space to share their story (and believing them when they do) means refusing to live in a culture where survivors are silenced or made to feel as if they are alone. Because, if the bravery of over 500,000 survivors should tell us anything, it is that nobody is alone in this trauma.
That said, it is also important to remember that survivors do not owe anyone their stories. Assault disclosures can be re-traumatizing, especially when they are met with insensitivity or disbelief, and demanding this kind of emotional labour from survivors constitutes yet another form of violence.
If you have said #MeToo, I believe you, and I am proud of you. If you are a survivor and you have not said #MeToo, I still believe you, and I am still proud of you. You are not alone. How do I know?
Because me too.
Alexandra Emery is a third-year GRSJ undergraduate student and AMS SASC volunteer.