#MeToo: a social media community


Marilyn Monroe poster with #metoo on a street corner. (Duncan C/Flickr)

Lucy Singer, Jewish Studies Editor

It all started when Harvey Weinstein was accused by multiple women of sexual assault in early October 2017. This was the spark that started the fire that led to the #MeToo movement.

As more women came out about the sexual assault they suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein and many other celebrities, people became repulsed by the fact that so many women had been assaulted.

Caroline Criado-Perez, co-founder of The Women’s Room, voiced her concerns. “It is about so much more than Harvey Weinstein. That’s what #MeToo represents, it’s happened to pretty much every woman you know. I think it’s really important that we don’t allow this to become a story about this one bad guy who did these terrible things because he’s a monster, and to make it clear that actually, it’s not just monsters … it happens in every country every day to all women, and it’s done by friends, colleagues, ‘good guys’ who care about the environment and children and even feminism, supposedly.” 

On October 15, 2017 at 3:21 P.M., actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within 24 hours, more than 4 million people had joined in on the #MeToo movement. The hashtag has since brought millions of sexual assault victims together and given them a place to share their story. It is almost like a support group.

More than just celebrities and “normal” people have taken a part of the movement. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, has also become involved in #MeToo. During an NPR interview with legal correspondent Nina Totenberg, Ginsburg talked about how sexual assault was addressed during the mid-1900s, saying “The attitude toward sexual harassment was simply, ‘Get past it. Boys will be boys.’”

She also shared some of her own stories such as one incident that occurred when she was a law student at Cornell University in early 1950s. Ginsburg had asked her chemistry teacher for extra help. He gave her a practice exam which she later realized was the real test. The teacher then proceeded to ask for sexual favors in return. Ginsburg did not ignore this uncomfortable situation, but instead she confronted him by saying, “How dare you!” multiple times.

Not only has the #MeToo movement helped people bring light to an important issue and helped heal assault victims, it is also the most viral “sexual harassment conversation on Twitter since 2010.” This was determined by the amount of posts made about the tweet and hashtag and how many people saw it. Unlike most viral posts on social media- which fizzle out quickly, #MeToo has sustained itself for months, becoming a viral, influential movement.

The #MeToo movement has the potential to bring change to society’s approach to sexual assault. Will #MeToo fade away like many other viral movements, or will it forever change the way our society addresses sexual assault?