#MeToo reaches crescendo on social media

By Santhosh Mathevan Published on Oct 17, 2017 01:20 PM IST

Chennai: In one of the rarest instances, women of the country have started to speak out about the sexual harassment they had been through in their life. For the past two days, the social media has been witnessing a viral trend with #MeToo as they have been sharing the bad times they have been through.

For a long time, most women defined their own sexual harassment and assault in this way: as something unspoken, something private, something to be ashamed of acknowledging. Silence, although understandable, has its cost.

A decade ago, one couldn't have conceived that so many women had experienced sexual coercion or intimidation; now, one would be surprised if one could find a single woman who hadn't.

On Sunday afternoon, actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo. In the last 24 hours, a spokesperson from Twitter too has confirmed that the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half-a-million times.

'@Alyssa_Milano: If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet', read the actress' tweet.

Milano’s tweet came after a number of women stepped forward with sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, who was kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Saturday over the accusations.

Milano's tweet drew more than 25,000 responses in a matter of hours, with many people replying 'me too'. It started with Milano herself replying 'me too' to her own tweet.

So, how did India join the club? When one of the women who had posted an update on Facebook with #MeToo, News Today interacted with her over text to know how serious she was about the issue.

"Don't you think this could affect your life being in a very traditional society?" was the question. She instantly replied, "What do you think tradition is? Harassing a woman? The world has shrunk into hands. It's time for us to speak up about our problems and not for just telling the world about what we faced but also put an end to this by stopping such instances from not happening in the future."

Her words were so serious and completely in line with the intent of every other Indian girl on social media. Most of the posts were with these quotes: 'If anybody who has been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.'

The statuses and tweets were copied and posted by others, with their own experiences listed, and that's how it all went viral.

But, it did not stop there. As soon as the women started posting about their harassment incidents, there were a lot of men who, too, who came out by posting 'Me Too'.

'Sexual harassment is one issue that is unanimous for everyone. It need not be caused by a man to woman or vice versa but, it can also be forced within a gender itself,' says Viknesh Rao, a guy who had posted a status with #MeToo.

There are also men who have confessed. One of the posts on Facebook by a boy reads: 'Yes I'm ashamed. I have done, and it’s not a honour of pride. I have verbally assaulted my friends (male/female) sexually(intentionally/unintentionally). I may have body shamed them as well and done blunder of mistakes to hurt or insult them. I’m sorry. #Itoo. Instead of #metoo why not #Itoo.'