On October 16, two rather simple words made the internet go abuzz with tweets and statuses that stood against sexual harassment. A lot of women took to twitter to show how they face sexual harassment almost everywhere they go. #MeToo got thousands of responses across the world in no time.
Along with the responses, many questions were asked: Does this really reflect the magnitude of the problem? Does social media represent all the women around the world? Isn’t it high time we move on to the next phase - that of solving the problem?
But amidst all the questions, one thing is clear: The trend has started (continued?) a much needed discussion on the issue of sexual harassment
It all started when actor Alyssa Milano posted a screenshot that read, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
Thousands of messages poured in describing horrific experiences that women have faced.
Among them was actor Parvathy, who shared her #MeToo status on Facebook saying she doesn’t fear trolls or haters.
In a sense, Parvathy was only continuing her earlier conversation during an interview, where she had spoken about woman’s rights over her body and the necessity to exert it.
“Since class 4, I have been conscious of the hands that pinched me and hit me in public places. But I couldn't get myself to react until I was 17. Society has taught me that all this will happen to me, but it never taught me that I am entitled to protect myself. It's not about hating men, it's about getting what we deserve. It took me years to even sit like this, comfortably, the way I want to. Say, when I am back from a day’s work and I want to just spread my arms and legs and lie down. But I have been told not to do that. It's just unfair. All this is because society sees us women and not as individuals," she said.
Kerala Filmmaker Sreebala K Menon also shared the hashtag on facebook. The director had also lashed out at Association of Malayalam Movie Artists in the actor abduction and sexual assault case, asking the organisation (AMMA), "So you still don't believe in teaching men to behave?"
Actor Sajitha Madathil on her Facebook page said that she was sexually harassed by known and unknown men.
Actor Rima Kallingal, who runs a dance institute in Kerala, also took to Facebook to show her support for #MeToo.
An everyday woman who calls herself a survivor and not a victim had a disturbing story of her childhood to tell. She was first sexually abused when she was five. This is her story.
" 'Me too' cannot be written down just like that. Saw the male organ for the first time when I was five year old. During power cuts he would make the five year old sit near him, then would say please massage for him as he had got pain. He would make her hold the piece of flesh in her hands.
Another one cousin sister who offered to tell the tale of ants, would say that she would show how ants walk. She would search everywhere in my tiny body and take my hands in between her legs. My powerful memories about childhood are about hiding from them under table and also remember the bad smell from the hands, which were also sticky.
After that in bus, school, and all public places where people assemble, hands were coming in search of body parts......."
Twitter, which has often been accused of not dealing with the harassment that women face on its micro-blogging site, boosted the #Metoo campaign by promoting it on Moments, its platform of curated stories. Twitter’s chief executive also tweeted saying the company will make its efforts to tackle abuse on the site.
Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices. 3/3— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 12, 2017
The company had released a statement last week that said “proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power.”
The #MeToo online movement started more than a decade ago with activist Tarane Burke. Tarane Burke told CNN that, "It's not about a viral campaign for me. It's about a movement and it began in the deepest, darkest place in my soul." Actress Milano credited Burke for #MeToo and tweeted a link to her organisation.