Editorial: #Metoo is a movement not just by celebrities but by our loved ones

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Just a simple hashtag often has more power than any 10-page essay can carry. The most powerful hashtags have grassroots movements behind them. #LoveWins, #BlackLivesMatter, and #JeSuisParis have all been catalysts of worldwide movements. These hashtags can lead to can lead to change towards an issue, or at least shed light on someone’s story.

“You know us. We are your family members. Your friends. Your co-workers. Your neighbors. And yes, even your heroes. We are everywhere. #Metoo,” wrote Gabrielle Union on Twitter, in response to Olympic gold medalist, McKayla Maroney’s, alleged sexual assault by a team doctor.

This news came amidst headlines alleging Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s years of sexual harassment, and during a time where countless women all over the world have been empowered to share their own stories about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. On Sunday evening and into the rest of this week, two words made the internet pause: Me too.

Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted this on Sunday: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Twitter quickly became flooded with stories of sexual assault and harassment.  Many celebrities also joined in the movement, with Hollywood powerhouses like Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon sharing their own stories.

“This has been a really hard week for women in Hollywood, for women all over the world, and a lot of situations and a lot of industries are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths,” Witherspoon said on Monday at the Elle Women in Hollywood event.

While the ‘Me Too’ movement was founded by activist and victim Tarana Burke in 2006, it was this recent explosion tweets and posts that sent shockwaves throughout the world, tragically and poignantly illustrating the weight of one our society’s deepest problems.

Tarana is a good example of the human element behind the hashtag. It is easy to notice celebrities get the ball rolling, but we see now that there are millions of other women who have stories to tell. Like Union said, these women are our neighbors, our best friends and our family members. This is where the weight of the movement lies—these stories of assault and harassment are not just in Hollywood, but in our own communities and social circles.

It was the flood of posts from women who live every day, ordinary lives that only added to the gravity of a disgusting culture that has allowed gender violence and harassment to be an expected experience for women. Scrolling through social media, we see mothers, teachers, friends and family sharing their own “me too” stories.

We have to do better. We have to stand up against predatory men. We have to take a stand against gender violence. Women are taught to fear walking alone at night, expected to endure harassment if they want to advance in their careers, and shamed when they speak out about it. The fact that men are not being held to a higher standard, even reflected in the most basic saying, “boys will be boys,” is unacceptable and disturbing.

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