What Gave the #MeToo Movement the Momentum it Needed to be Successful Now

Eva Hadjiyanis, page editor

Sexual assault has affected millions of women for thousands of years, but the coverage and discussion around it has increased exponentially over the last couple of months. Although the #MeToo message sprung up very suddenly and powerfully this year, it had been building up for a long time as women stayed silent until circumstances such as social media finally allowed a massive movement to begin.

Unfortunately, for most of the world’s history, the problem of sexual assault has been brushed off and ignored. Staying silent has always been the easiest and least painful route for victims who are often concerned with how people would respond to allegations, especially those made against powerful people. While women’s rights have become an increasingly popular cause over the past decades, sexual assault remained away from the forefront of the battle and of people’s minds. Fighting for the vote and other public rights was easier for activists, but solving those did not change the fact that women are mistreated and raped.  It was not until 2017, when famous Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment, that the issue finally got a place in the spotlight.

Through widespread use of social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter, women have found a platform where they feel safe to share their stories. Instead of having to talk to people in person and potentially sparking a confrontation, social media provides a less personal way to address sexual assault. Millions of women have shared their stories of sexual assault and harassment in the last six months using the hashtag #MeToo, weaving their individual experiences into the larger fabric of history.

With celebrities such as Alyssa Milano, who is credited with helping spark the movement, sharing their stories, the general public rapidly joined in with the movement. Without the help of these influential people, the movement may never have gained traction. Prior to #MeToo, people had trouble telling their stories for fear of others’ reaction and judgment. Now, with Milano’s story out in the public, women feel more at ease to join the movement. Once something drastic is done by a famous person, it easily becomes okay to do, and the #MeToo movement reflects that.

With the help of celebrities and social media, sharing sexual assault experiences became easier and safer for victims during 2017. The problem, while being uncovered now, has been building up for centuries. Without a good platform and big stories that were able to be covered about the topic without being covered up, #MeToo would not have started. Society was simply not ready for the #MeToo movement until now. Hopefully, this widespread movement will drop the number of sexual assaults even further, as we dream of a world where no women have to say “me too.”