Two simple words that have gained all new meaning in the past year, the #MeToo movement took over social media and made a large appearance during award season. The hashtag first went viral in October 2017 but was originally founded by Tarana Burke in 2006.
The #MeToo movement, like those before it, strives to bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence and assault and ultimately, fights to end the problem as a whole. When it was first started, the idea was that the phrase would easily express empathy and support for those who have suffered from sexual assault, especially women of color.
As award season commenced, the power of the two words grew further with projects such as the blackout Golden Globes and white roses at the Brit’s to symbolize solidarity with women and men who have been victims of sexual assault.
In an interview conducted by the Root, Tarana Burke described the movement as a “conversation between survivors” as well as an exchange of empathy.
“Sexual violence knows no race, or class, or gender, but the response to sexual violence does. Me Too is about the response to sexual violence, and it’s also about the journey towards healing,” said Burke.
Me too is talked about in Hollywood largely because of the industries own problems with protecting those who have histories of sexual violence. Celebrities often do not experience backlash from their histories and continue to strive in Hollywood. Examples of these people include Gary Oldman and Kobe Bryant, who both received Oscars at the 90th Academy Awards despite having inflicted sexual violence before. With such talk about Me Too, and similarly, Time’s Up, many like myself, find the irony in the popularity of such movements in Hollywood.
Then again, bringing awareness has caused many recent accounts of sexual assault to not go unnoticed by the public eye.
Me Too if often accompanied by Time’s up, another feminist ideal that expresses the irritation with sexual violence and representation of women in different industries. Time’s Up has also been popularized through award shows. Both have been referenced in multiple acceptance speeches and have been used in monologues for hosts, including Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech at the 90th Academy Awards and Janelle Monae’s introduction of Kesha at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
Women use the #TimesUp movement to talk about female recognition. At the 2018 Academy Awards, in the non-acting categories, only 23% of the nominees were females with Rachel Morrison being the first female cinematographer to receive a nomination since the Oscars began. Despite there being women who produce note worthy content, they are not nominated in non-acting categories.
I find the two movement to be incredibly important. With such strong support in media, it manages to show how expansive and common sexual violence is. Although these victims are often judged or discounted as being truthful, Me Too shows the spectrum of sexual violence. Being two short phrases, it’s easy to say a lot with very little. It’s not possible to end the problem so simply, but speaking up and having conversations about gender equality and sexual violence helps bring change.
Me Too allows for people to open up about their own experiences without having to relive the moments. Those who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse find the two words to be an easier way to open up about their experiences to loved ones or others who have gone through the same thing. Opening up may be difficult, but I find that uttering the words “me too” is easier to bare.
When friends of mine attended the women’s march back in March, “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” were scattered among the many posters and signs made for the gathering. By putting the two words in social media bios, the phrase opens the door for conversation and movement.
In the age of mass media and instant news, Me Too and Time’s Up have changed the game for sexual violence awareness and gender equality. These movements have moved towards a more inclusive movement as well as it includes trans women and nonbinary people into the mix. Continuing to condemn celebrities who have inflicted sexual violence and bring change to gender inequality has become more possible because of four words.
As time progresses, Tarana Burke and the movement will hopefully continue to provide this empathy and conversation for sexual violence.
“I just hope that we don’t stop talking about it when the hashtag dies down,” said Burke.