Was it just a hashtag that made women come together and open up about their sexual harassment experiences? The #MeToo movement has had critical global impact and represents a turning point in attitudes towards sexual harassment. #MeToo provides women with a safe space to talk about their experiences and the suffering they are going through.
For most women, the mere ability to speak about traumatic experiences is a step forward because many have never done so, for fear of being judged. Many women who have been sexually harassed flinch every time they see a man somewhere. The movement behind the hashtag gives them the support they need to be liberated from something they have held onto for so long. The movement is not confined to the United States: women all over the world have adapted the hashtag to their contexts through language: “[t]he French used #balancetonporc, the Spanish #YoTambien, and in Arab countries the hashtags وأنا_كمان# and وانا_ايضا# were predominant” according to Khomami from “The Guardian”. This shows that there is more awareness about various subjects and topics many wouldn’t be open to discussing because they are considered taboo.
#MeToo is quite influential around the world, but is it influential just for women? Of course, women need to feel empowered to open up about harassment and rape in order to place pressure for better, more just laws. However, if all we are doing is telling women that they should speak and fight for their rights, for equality and keeping men out of the equation, what message are we conveying?
We need to encourage men to talk and change: just like racism, do we place all the pressure on people of color to fight against discrimination, or do we also point out the wrongs of white people and hold them responsible for changing their attitudes? This is something the #MeToo movement efficiently does. #MeToo has even inspired a new hashtag: #HowIWillChange, which is for men who believe that they also need to be held responsible for speaking up, fighting against harassment and taking initiative. Many men from all around the world now see themselves as an important element in battling sexual harassment which also is evidence of the impact #MeToo has, not on women or men, but on society as a whole.
#MeToo is a catalyst of change in societies. It is able to provide women with the support they need to raise their voices against harassment through a mere hashtag that held a bigger and deeper meaning to it, and it has struck a nerve in men, pushing them towards calling out harassment and acting against it. I hope that this is not just a movement we encounter on social media and ends there, but goes beyond to action, policy change, and perhaps a revolution, rather than just an Internet fad.