Why Women are Sharing Stories of Sexual Harassment with Two Simple Words

IMG_4035Me too.

You may have seen that simple phrase on your social media, usually posted by women. Sometimes a whole story is posted with it, sometimes it’s just those two words.

Women are using the phrase to share their experiences with sexual harassment. It shows the widespread nature of harassment and you may have noticed women of all backgrounds are affected. Men have also shared their experiences, including Terry Crews (when the discussion first garnered attention roughly a week ago) but the phrase has been predominantly used by women. The trend began on Sunday when actress Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter that all women should share their experiences with the phrase, “me too.” She credited her friend with the idea and it took off, garnering about 12 million posts on Facebook and hundreds of thousands of tweets, according to a Good Morning America report.

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“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,” she wrote.

Twitter and other social media channels exploded with personal accounts of harassment and assault. Some discussed trusted figures in their life, other discussed ambushes. All showed the powerlessness of the situation and the long-lasting effects on victims and survivors.

It’s mostly in response to allegations of Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer and studio executive, harassing women in the industry. He’s been expelled from the Academy, but the conversation then turned to sexual assault in Hollywood in general.

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But soon women were using social media to share their own experiences. Some for the first time.

According to the Association of Women for Action and Research, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. 1 out of every 6 women will be the victim/survivor of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime and 90 percent of rape victims are women. However, the trend doesn’t just target the action, it targets the entire culture. Hollywood actresses and women in “good old boys’ clubs” reported they were pressured to stay quiet about the treatment or risk losing work.

“Cases like Harvey Weinstein´s reveal that the reluctance to report abuse by a colleague or especially a superior remains a significant problem,” wrote Dr. Wendy Patrick for Psychology Today.

The trend disrupts this because women are now refusing to stay quiet.

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“When I first saw the trend, my arm went numb. It was all about me, it was post-traumatatic stress disorder from the rape,” said Gabrielle Union on Good Morning America. Over the weekend, she tweeted about being assaulted while working at a Payless. She noted she wore a tunic and leggings.

“It’s a sense of connectedness,” she added explaining the value of the trend.