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The Origins of The #MeToo Movement

Actress+Alyssa+Milano+has+reignited+the+%23MeToo+movement+to+bring+awareness+to+sexual+assault+and+harrassment.
Actress Alyssa Milano has reignited the #MeToo movement to bring awareness to sexual assault and harrassment.

Actress Alyssa Milano has reignited the #MeToo movement to bring awareness to sexual assault and harrassment.

Actress Alyssa Milano has reignited the #MeToo movement to bring awareness to sexual assault and harrassment.

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Sexual harassment has been going on since the age of womanhood, but it seems that only recently that it is being taken seriously and that the harassers are finally being held at least somewhat accountable.

On October 15, actress Alyssa Milano reignited the social media “#MeToo” social media campaign wherein women who have been victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment post the “#MeToo” phrase to their social media accounts in order to bring attention how widespread and commonplace both sexual assault and sexual harassment are. Since then, millions of people – including men – have used the hashtag to come forward with their experiences, including many celebrities.

The “#MeToo” campaign went viral in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, Twitter reports that more than 1.7 million women and men have used the hashtag in 85 countries. In Italy, women rallied behind a version called #Quella VoltaChe which means to “That time when,” while French women trash their harassers by name under #BalanceTonPorc which translates to “snitch out your pig.”

“#MeToo” was created over a decade ago by female activist Tarana Burke, who works with Girls for Gender Equity and founded Just Be Inc., organizations focused on empowering women of color, according to a report on cnn.com. She launched the hashtag after her own experience with abuse kept her from helping a traumatized young girl.

“I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured,” Burke wrote on her website. “I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…’me too.’”

Though Burke sees #MeToo as a movement, she admits that the hashtag’s popularity ebbs and flows. “I’ve seen it happen over and over again in small waves, but to see it happen enmasse has been pretty amazing,” she told CNN.

“People want concrete ways to be part of a solution, and that’s where the #MeToo movement needs to go,” said Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “Talking about victimization doesn’t end victimization,” she said. “We need people to intervene. We need whistle-blowers. Parents need to be great role models. Ask your school, church, civic organizations and youth sports clubs to be proactive. Walk the walk in your own home.”

“This could be a watershed moment if this connects the dots,” National Association of Women president Toni Van Pelt said. “Connect the dots from a culture of male authority and patriarchy to the fact that women do not get equal pay; connect the dots to birth control and abortion that is being kept from women.

“Because if women are in position of authority, they will help stop the submission of other women,” Van Pelt continued. “So that men can’t corner them, can’t force them into sexual acts, because women won’t need the financial stability.”

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The Origins of The #MeToo Movement