Finding the silver lining in assault cases can range from difficult to impossible. But in the case of Harvey Weinstein and the dozens of women he’s assaulted, a new social media movement has begun and is reminding women that they are not alone.
Actor Alyssa Milano is best known for her roles on Who’s the Boss and Charmed, which she costarred on with actor Rose McGowan. Over the past week, McGowan has been in the headlines for being one of the most vocal opponents of recently ousted producer Harvey Weinstein, tweeting that not only did Weinstein rape her, but that high profile people knew about it and did nothing.
Following McGowan’s tweets about the assault and her suspension from Twitter, a movement calling for women to boycott Twitter on Friday, October 13 began, but as author Roxanne Gay pointed out, saying nothing is not always the best line of defense, especially when dealing with a situation that often leaves women feeling silenced.
I…. don’t think silence is gonna be the route I go.
— roxane gay (@rgay) October 13, 2017
Although Milano initially stayed quiet on the subject out of respect for her friendship with Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman, she is now speaking out. Inspired by McGowan’s bravery, Milano started a social media movement asking women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted to post the hashtag #MeToo on their Twitter and Facebook feeds.
Milano posted the call to action on Sunday afternoon on her Twitter account, writing “Suggested by a friend: If all the 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.”
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
As of 4 am on Monday, the hashtag #metoo had been used 200,000 on Twitter and mentioned 80,000 on Facebook.
Many women have come forward with their own stories of sexual assault, including a number of celebrities. Sheryl Crow revealed that she hired a lawyer after being assaulted early in her career, but was told to ‘suck it up.’
#metoo A manager on my first big tour as a backup singer. When I went to a lawyer he told me to suck it up bc the guy could do a lot for me.
— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) October 16, 2017
Canadian actor Jewel Staite recalled a recent incident, which took place one week ago while she was shopping with her child.
As recently as last week when a guy cat called me in the mall when I was with my kid and then got angry cuz I wouldn’t talk to him
— Jewel Staite (@JewelStaite) October 16, 2017
British actor Kaya Scodelario revealed her own experience, which like many women involved an attack by someone she knew.
It’s taken me 13 years to say #MeToo .He is still protected by ‘family members’ in Brazil. They’ve told lies to papers to try to silence me.
— Kaya Scodelario (@kScodders) October 16, 2017
Actor Katie Stevens pointed out how living in fear is different for women.
Some men will never know what it’s like to walk down the street, be catcalled, fear for their safety or the sanctity of their space. #metoo
— Katie Stevens (@thekatiestevens) October 16, 2017
Others, like Lady Gaga, are keeping their message simple and posting in solidarity.
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) October 15, 2017
Some women are using the hashtag as a way to remind people of the horrifying stats on sexual assault against women.
75% of sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know and trust, someone who is supposed to be a friend. #MeToo
— Kylie Schwabe (@kylieschwabe) October 16, 2017
Even before Milano’s tweet on Sunday night, the Weinstein case had already begun inspiring people to speak out against sexual assault and harassment. During his closing segment on this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, first time host Kumail Nanjiani closed the show by yelling “Believe women!”
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) October 15, 2017
Actor and new author Gabrielle Union wrote a series of tweets on Sunday morning about her own sexual assault, a subject she has bravely spoken about in the past. Union’s post was partly in response to The Big Bang Theory’s Miyam Bialik and her recent op ed piece in the New York Times, which encourages young women to dress modestly to avoid being assaulted.
Reminder. I got raped at work at a Payless shoe store. I had on a long tunic & leggings so miss me w/ “dress modestly” shit.
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) October 15, 2017
Sadly, the amount of women and many men who are sharing their stories of assault will continue to grow, but hopefully many will now feel less alone in their pain.