It’s been exactly a year since the #MeToo movement became full-blown. While it was actually initiated as far back as 2006 by activist Tarana Burke, it had only gone viral last year, when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted out #MeToo as a hashtag, in light of the explosive sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. I don’t think anyone can dismiss the gravity of this movement. It became the push for women to finally speak out and share the collective experiences they endured or have been enduring for years. Experiences they’ve normally been taught to keep as far away from the public eye as possible. Experiences they thought were theirs alone. The height of that movement was a truly overwhelming phenomenon. Like Tarana told Paper: “I’m amazed that millions of people could volunteer information about being impacted by sexual violence, we’re talking about people ready to speak out, and news outlets will not approach them unless they have a platform.”
But as much as I would like to celebrate the change in social climate this movement brought about, to discuss in-depth its impact, I would be remiss not to acknowledge it also has its bad moments. An example was the recent video that went viral in the US where one woman called 911, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a nine-year-old boy. It turned out his backpack accidentally brushed her bum. It’s worth noting that the woman was white while the boy was a POC.
It’s also been used as a marketing strategy, or a kind of trend, when it’s much more than that. It’s been taken advantage too by some media platforms. Just last night, I had a conversation about this Buzzfeed video about manspreading, and honestly, I identify as a feminist but I thought that video was stupid too. It demonized men, more than anything. It was the kind of thing which promotes the wrong notion that the movement is about bringing all men down, when it’s actually about gender equality. It’s about making men into allies, not enemies.
Tarana echoed this sentiment when she said, “I feel like the last year has been probably one of the strongest we’ve seen in the movement around people doing work in sexual violence, but has also been the most challenging because it’s a gift and a curse.” She added, “It has been backed with this extreme backlash and this narrative that’s not useful with this work we’re doing around it being a witch hunt—basically, just watching the idea of #MeToo become weaponized has been a challenge.”
But men crying foul isn’t justified. Not in the long run. Also, there’s no need for men to suddenly be “afraid” of this kind of social climate if they didn’t do anything wrong. Again, the #MeToo movement is not out to persecute all men;it’s a call out on the what-the-f*ck standards we used to call normal. Like rape culture. Or catcalling culture. It’s about women not taking any more bullsh*t from a deeply misogynistic society.
The fight for gender equality won’t happen in a day—or even a year. But the important thing is it’s moving. In something as fast-paced and fickle a platform as the internet, not all movements survive one year and still be considered relevant. The fact that #MeToo is still around and stronger than ever may seem like a miracle. The fact that it is is a testament that this movement isn’t dying anytime soon. With every unjust attack on women, their voice will only become louder and stronger.