Turning shame into empowerment, #MeToo spurred a worldwide movement and created an open space for women to share their survivor stories of sexual assault and harassment.
The #MeToo campaign flooded timelines in mid-October, with over 1.7 million women and men using the hashtag in 85 countries, CNN reported. Three weeks later, the hashtag continues to call attention to the pressing issue.
The thousands of survivor stories of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace prove not to be just a Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump scandal, but a part of a much more complex issue faced by women outside of “Hollywood.”
As our own president objectifies, body shames and humiliates women and excuses it as “locker room talk” sexism is becoming more and more normalized and easy to sweep under the rug. Assaulters and harassers continue to go unpunished.
And although tweets and posts with the hashtag may not have created change in policy and holding all offenders accountable, it has brought attention the scope of the issue.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll in October reported 50% of U.S. women have experienced unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances from men and of those women, nearly all say the male harassers go unpunished.
The survey also indicates that among women who have been victim to these incidents, only 42 percent of sexual advances in the workplace have been reported to supervisors. Considering how many women who report sexual assault and harassment are negatively portrayed in society and on the news, lack of reporting these incidents can be from fear of backlash and jeopardizing their career.
“Female victims, meanwhile, suffer an emotional toll: Among those who’ve experienced unwanted workplace-related sexual advances, 83 percent say they’re angry about it, 64 percent felt intimidated by the experience and 52 percent say they were humiliated by it,” according to the poll.
#MeToo not only empowered women to share their survivor stories, but also created a national conversation and paved the way for the #IWillSpeakUp campaign, a call to men to break the “culture of silence and violence.” The campaign’s pledge involves six actions for men, including challenging the social construction of gender roles, listening to women’s experiences and using a platform to speak out.
Messages of support and personal stories have gone viral, but the movement does not end at a hashtag. It continues with supporting survivors, breaking the culture of silence and holding offenders and assaulters accountable.