By: Sarah Croft
Scrolling through Twitter on the 5th of October, I was shocked by what I saw.
The New York Times had broken the story about the numerous sexual assault/harassment accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. But, as I lay in bed scrolling through the countless stories, the shock I felt wasn’t for the fact he had done what he had done (and continuously, may I add), but for those many women and men who were silenced for so long.
It may sound wrong to not feel shocked about the news that Weinstein threatened, sexually abused, harassed and degraded many people, but I feel so numb to a situation which now feels so common – which is heart-breaking.
It wasn’t surprising news to me: for years those in power have been able to get away with such disgusting acts due to the victims being too scared to speak out at risk of not being believed, losing their jobs or offending others in the industry. These women and men aren’t just a victim of Weinstein, but a victim of a society who pushes them to one side in favour of a more powerful figure.
These women and men aren’t just a victim of Weinstein, but a victim of a society who pushes them to one side in favour of a more powerful figure.
Their pain and suffering goes on past the abuse. Lindsay Lohan even released a statement saying that the accusations must have been a lie, because nothing like that had happened to her before. We are in a world where sweeping these problems under a rug seems like the better outcome for everyone involved, but it’s not. It’s not a better outcome for the victim and it’s not a better outcome for our society.
Since the news broke, the response on social media platforms has been that of support and anger.
Brave women and men including Rose McGowan, Cara Delevigne and Terry Crews have taken to social media to tell their stories, no longer scared of not being believed. Weinstein was a man of power, buying the silence of his victims through intimidation and black mailing, however there is no greater power than the voices of society and, through Twitter, this has become apparent.
Since the news broke just over two weeks ago, the hashtag ‘#MeToo’ has become a movement.
Actress Alyssa Milano started the trend, asking other victims of sexual assault to stand up and not be scared anymore. Thousands of twitter users, prominently women, shared their stories followed with ‘#MeToo’ in a movement of empowerment, supporting victims of sexual assault and harassment across the globe. What I read was humbling and moving. A tidal wave of tweets of people standing up to their abusers, having a voice that they felt had been hidden for so long.
Twitter became a support system, a place for people to fight back at their abusers, a place to express. It became much more than a place to share memes, much more than those tweeting about what they had for breakfast or how hungover they were from the night before, it became and is becoming a platform to fight and stand up for something with the support of millions.
There is undoubtedly an importance in using Twitter as a place to make change, with millions of active users on the social media site it is obvious as to why this is a place for a voice of society.
However, what about those victims who still aren’t comfortable to tell their story?
We can’t make a movement whilst then dismissing those who still aren’t ready to talk, who are still scared, who are scarred. A hashtag will of course not immediately help those victims, but it may give them the support they need to take the next steps. And if that’s what the power of social media is encouraging, then #MeToo.