Me Too. Yay or Nay?

23 Oct 2017

So, if you haven't heard the words "Me Too" over the past week then you have probably been on a week long bender or been living under a rock.

What makes these two words so powerful and how have they shot into the viral sphere of social media? Why is this initiative being questioned and has it really achieved its goal?

It was revealed that it was not in fact white actress Alyssa Milano who first came up with this statement against sexual harassment and abuse but in fact a black woman named Tarana Burke. Ten years ago she tried to launch the same campaign but it seems no one was listening back then, there has been controversy over this fact alone.

Now, there is no doubt that in the past 10 years social media has boomed and so it would be safe to assume that this is the reason the 10 year old campaign did not have the sway Milano's outcry had. Though there are writers amongst us, such as that of Vice, who feel that the colour of Milano's skin is not to be ignored when looking at the scale to which this message has been broadcasted.

But at the end of the day should that matter now? Women are finally speaking up about their most painful experiences and surely this can only be a good thing by breaking the silence and stigmatism that surrounds sexual harassment and abuse.

There are those of course that see the sinister side of the campaign, Breibart writer, John Nolte has said that this campaign is "like the AIDS ribbon", women posting "me too" are doing this as a status symbol.  It is of course, easy to analyse this movement and come out with less than favourable opinions, even the appetite we have for gobbling up the horrific. We need to ask the question, are we reveling in these women in a negative way to satiate this need we hold personally to read and feed off other's pain?

John Nolte does touch on an important aspect of viral campaigns such as this though, are we washing down the true meaning of what the "me too" campaign is trying to say by diluting it through the masses?

Men are now coming forward with #ItWasMe, some women I have spoken to believe this movement is diminishing the importance of the "me too" campaign by trivialising the acts of harassment and trying to move people's attention from the cause. In this circumstance though, I would have to say I disagree, I believe the fact men are now coming forward with examples from when they have sexually harassed women is the entire point of the "me too"campaign. They have read, understood and connected with the message to the point where they have re-evaluated their past actions and realised that they were in fault and then put this shameful experience forwards to encourage others to re-think their past actions in a new light.

Many women may have difficulty understanding how a man could not see their actions at the time as sexual harassment, however, it is important to realise that, though we may know what constitutes sexual abuse, we all possess different levels of tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment. I mean, what does sexual harassment mean to each individual?

Put yourself in this common situation, you are on a night out, having a great time dancing away and a guy (or girl) comes up behind you and starts dancing inappropriately before reaching out for your hips, would you…

  1. Simply turn around and tell him politely to stop and that you are not interested
  2. Move out of his way, attempting to make it clear you are not interested
  3. Be deeply upset by the non-consensual touching and have this weigh over your night out experience

We all perceive harassment in different ways, but this is not to say that anyone is right or wrong. This is important to remember before diminishing the stories of others in the "me too" campaign, if they feel they were harassed then they were indeed harassed, for them it was not a bit of fun or a joke, it caused pain and discomfort. This is what John Nolte and others like him are failing to take into consideration before making their claims - harassment is defined personally.

Even this is subject to criticism, where is the line drawn? Can women ruin men's lives unnecessarily with false or minor complaints of harassment? Should we have stricter guidelines in place to define harassment - should we need to?

The "me too" initiative was set in place to make people realise the magnitude of the issue of sexual harassment and abuse - those against it said we already knew that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime.

Yes, that is true, but it is very different reading a statistic to reading about your friends trauma, the girl from school and her nightmare, the quiet office admin from work. This campaign has helped to put faces behind the acts, by making the experiences personable, by having people we all know speak out about this - surely that, that act, is how this campaign succeeds?

With so much controversy circling this campaign, we would love to know your opinions on the matter. What do you think?