Pros and Cons of MeToo Movement
Throughout the human history, we have progressed, matured, and gained rights. The laws proclaimed the prohibition of racial, religious, and sexual discriminations. With that said, women are still experiencing glass ceiling in different aspects even after few centuries. One example of the glass ceilings women encounter are ‘sexual violence against women.’ To begin with, sexual violence refers to any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic or otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. (Krug et al, 2002)
A survey was held by USA Today on women employees from Hollywood. Statistics reported that nearly all of the women who responded to the survey (94%) say they have experienced some form of harassment or assault, often by an older individual in a position of power over the accuser. Moreover, more than one-fifth of respondents (21%) say they have been forced to do something sexual at least once. Only one in four women reported these experiences to anyone because of fear of personal or professional backlash or retaliation. This reporting rate holds true for all forms of misconduct addressed in the survey, including being forced to do something sexual. Of those who did report their experiences, most say reporting did not help them; only 28% say their workplace situation improved after reporting. (Kelly et al., 2018) Over the last few months, the transformation began to end such violence: the #MeToo (preferably Me Too) movement.
The#MeToo movement is basically a movement against sexual harassment and assault. (Zachkarack et al., 2018) The movement first began in October 2017 when a journalist from New York Times published an article disclosing the sexual harassment scandal of American film producer Harvey Weinstein. The article claimed that Weinstein had sexually abused women in the film industry for more than 30 years. During the interview, eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein; appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself. (Kantor, Abrams., 2017) Within a day, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and other Hollywood actresses joined the allegation against Weinstein through New York Times. ‘When Gwyneth Paltrow was 22 years old, she got a role that would take her from actress to star: The film producer Harvey Weinstein hired her for the lead in the Jane Austen adaptation “Emma.” Before shooting began, he summoned her to his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for a work meeting that began uneventfully.’ (Kantor, Abrams., 2017)
After courageous accusations, the sexual harassment scandal finally rose to the surface. This was the first official footstep of the #MeToo movement. The phrase itself was first used in 2006 by Tarana Burke, an American social activist and later began to spread and popularized by Alyssa Milano through Twitter. This worldwide phenomenon first began with a snapshot Milano’s friend sent; “Suggested by a friend: 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.” Milano shared this tweet and added a comment: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
On her interview with The Guardian, she said she ‘woke up the next morning to 55,000 replies and the hashtag trending No.1 on Twitter.’ (Sayej, 2018) Now, #MeToo has made waves across the globe, active in 85 countries on Twitter and posted 85 million times on Facebook over the past 45 days. In less than a year, the #MeToo phenomenon had become a global phenomenon. It cannot be denied that social media was the key to the virality. According to Facebook, within a 24-hour period, over 4.7 million people worldwide had used the hashtag, and over 12 million posts, comments and likes had been generated.
There were various reasons to the success of #MeToo movement. To begin with, the movement first started off from powerful social media influencers; Alyssa Milano is a celebrity with three million followers. In other words, she is an effective figure that can influence her three million followers. Celebrities with even more followers and social impact joined this movement both online and offline. One example can be how actors and actresses from Hollywood supported it. They first claimed the commencement of Times Up campaign by wearing black dress and black suits with ‘times up’ badge to Golden Globe Awards 2018. The Times Up campaign proclaimed the forbiddance of sexist practices and violence towards women. Seth Meyers, the host of the Awards specifically tackled this issue from the beginning of the award by saying jokes like “It’s 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t, it’s gonna be a good year!”
Oprah Winfrey, who was the first female to be awarded as Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award said the following speech: “But we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. To tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before, as we try to navigate these complicated times. Which brings me to this: What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. And this year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they — like my mother — had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. (…) And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.”
In a similar aspect, the easy access of social media and celebrities leading as an example, the media also advanced the #MeToo movement. (Kelly, 2017) Over half of world’s population has internet access today as there are over 4 billion internet users. (Internet World Stats, 2018) In the case of microblog Twitter where the movement first began, retweeting can simply be seen as the act of copying and rebroadcasting, the practice contributes to a conversational ecology in which conversations are composed of a public interplay of voices that give rise to an emotional sense of shared conversational context. Retweeting brings new people into a particular thread, inviting them to engage without directly addressing them. Spreading tweets is not simply to get messages out to new audiences, but also to validate and engage with others. In doing so, they acknowledge that retweeting can be both a productive communicative tool and a selfish act of attention seekers. (Boyd,2010)
Last but not least, it was the society that hasn’t taken this issue as serious as it is. Women have for decades been oppressed, discriminated and faced misbehaviour and sexual harassment. (Nausaka, 2018) It was either left unspoken or the responsibility was placed on victim rather than the perpetrator. Survivors and victims of the sexual misconduct had to remain in silence, with their feelings of shame and guilt privately. However, the #MeToo movement provided a platform for survivors to share their stories and show solidarity. Victims all around the world, with different nations, backgrounds, and career also joined the movement by sharing their experiences through utilizing the hashtag #MeToo and #WithYou in social media. Through the movement on social media, it is now proven that a simple message composed of a very few characters can bring a phenomenon to the world.
It’s been a year since the movement began. With the light this movement brought to our society, shades exist as well. The movement itself began to show support towards survivors and victims, furthermore, to prevent a similar situation in the next generation. However, this movement is now somehow moving into a gender dispute between male and female. Men could be falsely accused of sexual misconduct. Women could lose out on opportunities at work because men will be afraid to work with them. The purpose of #MeToo was to narrow down the gender gap but the movement is paradoxically causing reverse discrimination. Because it’s been only an year since this movement began, we should look forward to the future.