If you haven’t seen the #MeToo hashtag being used on social media at any point in the last few days, we would hazard a guess that you haven’t been on social media at all during that period. Indeed, its widespread use has been just one part of the massive response to the disturbing news that has emerged in the last few weeks about sexual harassment in Hollywood.
Much of that news has – of course – centred on film producer Harvey Weinstein, with the more than 30 women to have said they were sexually harassed or assaulted by him ranging from Lysette Anthony and Angelina Jolie to Heather Graham and Rose McGowan.
However, questions have also been asked of other Hollywood figures about the extent to which they may have enabled his behaviour or suppressed attempts to speak out about it earlier.
An unprecedented social media response
We have long been able to depend on social media to give an emphatic response to sexism, harassment and assault, as shown by the success down the years of such hashtags as #EverydaySexism and #YesAllWomen. However, even by those standards, one hashtag in particular – #MeToo – was used a staggering number of times as women well beyond the boundaries of the entertainment world cited their own experiences.
It began when Hollywood actor Alyssa Milano posted a message on Twitter on Sunday, asking users to respond “me too” to her tweet if they had been sexually harassed or assaulted to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within just 24 hours, Milano’s tweet had been retweeted more than 17,000 times, while on Sunday alone, the #MeToo hashtag was used 109,451 times, according to social analytics firm Crimson Hexagon.
Even by the standards of the other feminist hashtags to have seen widespread use in recent times, that is an astonishing number. #YesAllWomen, for example, exploded onto Twitter in response to the 2014 Elliot Rodger shooting that targeted women, and was used 61,500 times on 25th May that year. #EverydaySexism, meanwhile, has continued to see heavy use throughout the year, including more than 9,000 times in August, according to Crimson Hexagon.
A great social uprising against injustice
With Rose McGowan’s temporary suspension from the microblogging platform having prompted the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement, the immense response to Milano’s tweet shows that female voices remain in full force on the site. It is a firm sign of their determination to ensure they will continue to be heard in the wake of the troubling reports that we have had to digest from the entertainment world, and which we may be continuing to read for a long time to come.
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