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Students join #MeToo movement, shine light on sexual assault

By Kaeli Hearn

The use of two simple words has become a way for people to ban together via social media platforms to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment with the use of the hashtag #MeToo.

After the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano crafted her own tweet on Oct. 15 which ignited conversation.

“If all 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," the tweet read.

But the movement did not start with Milano.

It started over 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke.

Freshman Quinn Britton first saw the hashtag used on Facebook when her friend posted a personal story of survival which encouraged her to do the same, she said.

“It is about giving a platform and an opportunity for survivors to tell their stories, because as a survivor, I have felt very silenced,” Britton said.

According to the Atlantic, in the first 24 hours, the hashtag was used almost half a million times.

Junior Gillian Lait said she thinks using social media makes it easier to talk about sexual assault. // Photo by Kaeli Hearn

Britton said her one complaint was that the initial tweet but did not include all identities, she said.

“It takes away from the message that men also get sexually assaulted," Britton said. "Being more inclusive and intersectional is really important."

Junior Gillian Lait said it's easier to talk about these issues on social media because there is not a direct face-to-face interaction, she said.

“I do not think it was as taboo of a subject going over Facebook, which was helpful,” Lait said.

However, Lait felt like the movement was pushing survivors to come out and tell their story when they did not feel comfortable to do so, she said.

Senior Avalon Patnode Stewart recently started a women’s group that meets at her house.

After the movement began, they went around and talked about why they did or did not make a post using the hashtag, Patnode said.

“I think that there is a lot of power in being able to name something for what it is,” Patnode said. “So many women feel guilt for sexual harassment and abuse thinking it is their own fault when really, often times, they are in fact the victim of the situation.”

The #MeToo movement could normalize talking about sexual assault and harassment, Patnode said.

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