In 2006, the ‘Me Too’ movement was created by Tarana Burke, a Brooklyn-native activist who sought to ‘empower through empathy’. The campaign focused on women of colour, particularly from underprivileged communities, who had previously experienced sexual abuse.
The campaign caught fire in October this year when actress Alyssa Milano wrote this Tweet in reaction to the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations:
The effect was unmissable and brought a behind-closed-doors topic firmly into the public domain. It seems naive to say the results were shocking, yet scrolling through my own newsfeed, I was struck by how often I read: ‘me too’.
I’m in two minds about the openness of social media. Anonymity allows many to voice their opinions, even when others may not wish to read them. It also brings like-minded people together – not always the blessing it may initially seem.
But the success of ‘Me Too’ is a reminder of the good social media can bring. Victims of sexual harassment and assault were given a time and (public) space where they could share experiences, and empathise with those with similar stories to tell. The visibility of social media exposed the reality that, despite recent feminist efforts, day-to-day sexual misconduct has not been effectively tackled.
With the help of social media and the scale and speed of its reach, I hope the current butterfly effect continues. Those assaulted and harassed have tried turning to the law, and been disappointed. I welcome this new age where those in power must look over their shoulder in fear of being named and shamed. Justice may finally be served.