When the #MeToo hashtag began to surface on Twitter and Facebook, I wasn’t as moved as the rest of the world seemed to be. When actress Alyssa Milano shared the original Tweet with instructions to reply with #MeToo if the reader had ever been sexually assaulted or harassed, the hashtag blew up; millions of people jumped on the trend, sharing their stories with the intentions of raising awareness about how widespread sexual assault really is. Although the trend allowed survivors to share their stories and show others that they weren’t alone, I still couldn’t get on board with it. Yes, the intentions behind the hashtag were good, but it didn’t sit well with me for a plethora of reasons.
1. Do you really believe that men don’t know how widespread the issue is?
If you or anyone you know isn’t aware that sexual assault and rape culture is an issue, you must be trying really hard to remain blind to the problem. Do you really think, in the year 2017, that people don’t understand how bad of an issue rape is? Both #YesAllWomen and #BeenRapedNeverReported happened and we still apparently need to convince the world that rape culture needs to end. I don’t need a hashtag to represent me. What I need is to be heard, to be believed, and to know that the people that are committing these crimes will actually be punished and not let off with a slap on the wrist (#f*ckbrockturner).
2. It leaves it up to the victims to “fix” and/or end rape culture.
The concept behind the hashtag once again puts the burden of trying to change, fix or end the idea of rape culture on the victims. It’s like being told to not dress so provocatively, or to “not lead him on if you don’t want to get hurt.” Instead of that asinine garbage, maybe the perpetrators could take responsibility and just not assault or harass us. Why is it always up to the survivors to spread awareness and dress differently and start hashtag trends? It’s incredibly irrational that we should be expected to fix rape culture. People are going to continue to be raped, assaulted, harassed and objectified until rape culture is stopped from the inside, meaning the people perpetuating rape culture and assaulting people need to admit that they need to change, and the world needs to change, and that what they are doing is wrong. That shouldn’t be left up to the victims of the assholes who continue the cycle.
3. It pressures people to speak out about a traumatic experience.
Regardless of the awareness it might raise, not all survivors of sexual assault enjoy reliving the experience or sharing it with millions of people via social media, which is coincidentally why a lot of people don’t end up going to the police if they’ve been assaulted. More power to you if you feel comfortable talking about your experiences and what happened to you, but not all of us do. No one should feel pressured to disclose personal suffering before they’re ready. If you feel like being open about your experience will help you heal, that’s amazing and beautiful and I completely support your choice. However, some of us just want to forget it happened and not have it thrown back in our faces every time we check Facebook, which brings me to my next point …
4. Some of us don’t like being reminded of what happened to us.
I get that many people who jumped on the #MeToo train were doing it to help spread awareness of the widespread problem that is rape culture, and to show others that they aren’t alone. However, I feel every time I logged on to Facebook or Twitter and saw another person sharing the hashtag, it did nothing to empower me or make me feel like I was being supported. It actually had the opposite effect, and gave me a constant reminder of what happened to me. It opened up a lot of old wounds that I have tried really hard to close over the course of many, many years.
I understand the need for survivors and victims to have a platform to speak, and to be heard. I have the utmost love and respect for each and every person who feels strong enough to share their stories and spread awareness about something as serious and disregarded as rape culture. I also understand how a viral trend can be empowering and deeply moving for some. However, to me, the #MeToo hashtag is just another movement that leaves the survivors and victims the only ones educating, raising awareness and driving for change, instead of pushing the people who actually need to take action – the ones who are perpetuating the cycle of violence.