Within days of reports of a scandal involving movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo became a common sight on social media.
Women and men both used the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and other social media to state that they had been sexually harassed or assaulted.
An article in The Atlantic (“The Movement of #MeToo,” Oct. 16, 2017) described how the hashtag was not the start of a movement with marches and speeches, but rather a groundswell of participation to give people a sense of “the magnitude of the problem.”
At last count, the hashtag had been used 1.7 million times in 85 different countries.
It is frustrating that it is 2017 and we are still dealing with how consent works.
We are still dealing with the fact that when a person says no, some people think that’s debatable.
Everyone who came forward with #MeToo did a courageous thing. It is not easy talk about being sexually assaulted or harassed.
This is not a big-city problem.
The amount of sexual assault in the Humboldt area has increased 153 per cent over the past year, according to PARTNERS Family Services Executive Director Hayley Kennedy. However, she noted she does not know whether that is because survivors are more comfortable coming forward now, or because there has been an increase in sexual assault.
The organization serves Humboldt and rural communities within a 100 kilometre radius around the city, and Kennedy says rates in rural areas can be higher even than Saskatchewan cities.
Sexual assault and harassment cases can seem to have grey areas, especially when the evidence comes down to one party’s word against another.
However, even in cases that have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, we are still victimizing survivors.
Take a case before the Quebec courts just last week. As reported in The Globe and Mail on Oct. 25, the judge in that case noted that the teenaged sexual-assault victim had a pretty face, was a little overweight and speculated that she might have been flattered by the accused’s attention.
The accused was found guilty of kissing, touching and licking the 17-year-old while she was in his taxicab.
In a famous case in California last year, Brock Turner bragged on social media about raping a woman behind a dumpster. Even with two witnesses to the crime, he served three months in jail. This despite minimum sentencing in California of two years for sexual assault.
To make matters worse, major media outlets spent air time lamenting about the loss of his swimming career.
According to Statistics Canada, sexual assault is the most underreported violent crime in Canada, with 636,000 self-reported sexual assaults in 2014 and only 117,238 reported to police in 2014.
How does anyone see any of this as okay?
How do these kinds of stories encourage victims to come forward?
With stories like this littering our feeds, how does this improve anything for survivors?
People need to stand up and say it is not okay. That is what #MeToo is doing.