Sex and Relationships

Me Too: An Online Sexual Violence Movement

Harvey Weinstein Scandal Inspires Women to Speak Up

By: Beren Sabuncu

Credit: Twitter.com

There have been recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein, a then very powerful producer, by a large group of actresses and models, in which the main topic of discussion was sexual harassment.

It is this scandal that should make people more aware of just how common sexual violence is and just how important it is that this topic isn’t taboo anymore.

The victims of this type of violence tend to internalize what happened to them, and refuse to acknowledge or talk about what happened because of the shame perpetuated by social and rape culture.

The stigmatization of victims isn’t new.

Indeed, perpetrators of these sort of crimes thrive off of the victims being silenced by these stigmas.

Weinstein is a great example to prove this phenomenon.

Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein created Miramax in the late 1970’s.

About 48 women came forward, one after the other, stating that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.

Amongst the victims are hugely influential actresses such as Lupita Nyong’o, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie.

We are talking about one of the biggest producers in Hollywood. It is likely that there are other women out there, with similar allegations, who are not coming forward because they’re afraid.

Indeed, in a New Yorker article by Ronan Farrow titled, “From Extreme Overtures To Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories” the extent of Weinstein’s power is revealed.

“Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation. “If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried that he could ruin my life,” one former employee told me.”

After the allegations against Weinstein multiplied successively, the media’s attention intensified.

On October 15, came the tweet that launched one of the more successful social media campaigns against sexual violence.

Alyssa Milano, a very acclaimed widely-known actress, tweeted, “If you’ve been harassed or assaulted write me too as a reply to this tweet”.

The tweet got 68K comments, 25K retweets and 53K likes. People started putting “#MeToo” on their Facebook pages.

The “#MeToo” campaign also helped inform those who are oblivious of the extent of sexual assault and violence.

Milano then tweeted again, informing her followers that the “#MeToo” campaign wasn’t her creation, but of activist Tarana Burke’s.

Burke now is the Program Director of “Girls for Gender Equity”. The story behind the movement is a very upsetting one.

Burke describes the events on the Just Be site: “The me too Movement™ started in the deepest, darkest place in my soul. As a youth worker, dealing predominately with children of color, I had seen and heard my share of heartbreaking stories from broken homes to abusive or neglectful parents when I met Heaven.”

She then talked about how the girls often sought help or guidance from counselors, and that she was Heaven’s favorite.

When the young girl approached her, Burke immediately realized that a deep confession was about to be made and tried to avoid the dark pain in the young girl’s eyes.

When Heaven finally convinced her to listen, Burke was shocked, “For the next several minutes this child, Heaven, struggled to tell me about her “stepdaddy” or rather her mother’s boyfriend who was doing all sorts of monstrous things to her developing body…I was horrified by her words, the emotions welling inside of me ran the gamut, and I listened until I literally could not take it anymore…which turned out to be less than 5 minutes.”

Burke was obviously horrified, and yet still, what she did next stuck with her for over 10 years.

She admitted to not being able to take it anymore.

“Then, right in the middle of her sharing her pain with me, I cut her off and immediately directed her to another female counselor who could “help her better.” ‘

Burke described the look in Heaven’s eyes that indicated her “shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again.”

Burke was terribly guilt-ridden, especially because she did not have the courage she does now.

The last line of Burke’s story hits readers with full force.

“I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…me too.”

In cases of sexual assault, the victim is never the one to blame.

No means no, not a “maybe”. They are not playing “hard to get”, they are not “too drunk to remember”.

If you are a victim, speak up. Chances are, as proven by Weinstein, you are not the only one.

Get up, and without shame, say “Me Too”.

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