One Woman On Twitter Said She Was Sexually Harassed, Thousands More Said #MeToo

A Twitter trend that began on Sunday has sparked a massive dialogue online about just how pervasive sexual violence against women actually is. A tweet by American actor Alyssa Milano went viral, after she asked women to speak up about their experiences with the hashtag #MeToo. The surge of stories that followed was both heartbreaking and powerful to see.

Women (as well as women-identified, trans and femme people) have often spoken to each other about the invisibilised pandemic of sexual violence. Ever since the 1 Billion Rising campaign was launched in 2012, people often quote the “one in three women” stat, when talking about this issue. But despite years and years of research, newspaper reports, and various other campaigns to end sexual violence, there is still a doubt in many minds (largely men) that any of this is even happening. From those who reject feminism to those who blame and shame survivors of assault, human society has not been kind to people at the receiving end of abuse. Which is why, in Milano’s words, it’s time to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Even public figures like Monica Lewinsky added their voices:

While thousands and thousands of women opened up, the response from the other end of the gender scale began to swell too. And in a good way!

Writer and game designer Shariq Rafeek began a thread on Twitter, recounting the many ways in which he had contributed to women feeling uncomfortable and unsafe. Having learnt from those incidents, Rafeek shares with his follows how to go about rectifying things. Pretty soon men began adding to the conversation:

The buzz aroud #MeToo was much needed. But we have to remember this isn’t the first time women have come together to share stories. Back in 2012, British feminist writer Laura Bates launched the Everyday Sexism project, flooding the Twitter landscape with very similar tweets. In the five years since then, while women’s solidarity has certainly grown, showing up in other conversations like #YesAllWomen. But incidents of sexual violence haven’t died down yet. The question that still remains is this: will people finally listen?