This week, social media learned just how powerful two small, simple words can be when put together: #MeToo. This hashtag was inspired by Tarana Burke, founder of Just Be Inc., and her idea of “empowerment through empathy.” By simply using these five letters, she has given women a platform to share their experiences with sexual assault harassment and show the world truly how prominent and pervasive these issues are.
Actress Alyssa Milano brought the hashtag to fame with her tweet that has received over 19,000 retweets, almost 40,000 likes, and 54,000 replies as of Monday night:
In only 24 hours, Twitter has confirmed that #MeToo has been tweeted more than half a million times, and it has been discussed by 6 million people on Facebook. Below are a sample of some of these inspiring tweets:
Currently, there are 4 tweets per second with the #MeToo hashtag. To know that sexual assault and harassment hold such magnitude in our society is gut-wrenching and disheartening. And to know that—despite their prominence—they still receive the backlash and excuses they do is even more frustrating. If these stories leave you feeling sad or scared or angry, that’s okay. Use these feelings and remember that there are so, so many people out there who stand by you. This topic can be emotionally taxing, but it is the difficult conversations that need to be discussed the most.
Sharing our stories of sexual assault and harassment can be crucial in our own journeys of healing, and lets people who may not yet be comfortable sharing know that they are not alone. Let these stories remind you that getting or needing help does not make you weak, that rape doesn't need to follow the 'traditional narrative' to be traumatic, that staying neutral towards toxic masculinity or socially ingrained sexism helps nobody, and that anybody can be a victim, and anybody can be a survivor. Let it inspire you to make a difference and show you that every voice matters.
We thank Tarana Burke for starting this community, and we thank you for either sharing your story or standing by survivors who do. Project Consent stands by you. We are with you.