Campaign for Change. Me Too campaign raises much-needed awareness on sexual harassment and assault.

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Campaign for Change. Me Too campaign raises much-needed awareness on sexual harassment and assault.

Emily Worrell

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On Oct. 15, 20 years after Tarana Burke founded the Me Too campaign, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted out a request that victims of sexual harassment or assault reply by saying “me too.” Since then, the hashtag #metoo has gone viral. When I see this hashtag, I am filled with a bittersweet mixture of pride and shame. I feel proud that people are unafraid to speak up about such an important and prevalent problem in our society, but ashamed of our failure as a society to see how widespread this issue really is.

As a person who has been sexually harassed multiple times while still underage, I understand how large of a problem sexual harassment and assault is. However, I know that many people are woefully unaware of what a huge issue this is, which is why this campaign is so important. It creates a safe space for victims to understand that they are not alone and also spreads awareness to those who are uninformed on the widespread nature of this problem in our society. I’ve had multiple people tell me how shocked they are by the number of friends and acquaintances they have that have posted about this. While I wish I could say I was shocked, I cannot. While I wish I could say I believe most women were shocked by the commonness of this issue, I again cannot.

Because so many women were unfazed by this issue, some men have begun to see #metoo as an attack painting them as monsters and women as victims. I urge these people to take a closer look. #Metoo isn’t just about women. It’s about victims of sexual harassment and assault, both male and female. Just because the problem is more common among women doesn’t mean the people using this hashtag don’t understand that men can be victims and women can be assailants. Just because you are part of the audience this campaign aims to increase awareness among doesn’t mean you are being attacked. #Metoo is a call to awareness and action as well as a safe space for victims, not an attack on anyone.

Overall, the spread of the #metoo campaign gives me hope for our society to change and improve, but we cannot change with awareness alone. We need action. Knowing that there’s a problem isn’t enough; we need to fix it. If someone tells you they’ve been assaulted or harassed, do not just let it go or assume it’s a

n isolated incident. I can almost guarantee you that it isn’t. Sexual assault is on us; it’s on us to stop it. A hashtag won’t do it for us, but it’s a good place to start.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Emily Worrell at eworrell@hilite.org.

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