On Thursday, actor Alyssa Milano put out a call on Twitter for women to disclose the fact that they have survived sexual assault, and across social media women have risen to answer.
The hashtag #MeToo, or the act of posting “Me too” as a Facebook status is the latest attempt to bring visibility to people, primarily women, femmes, and non-binary individuals, who have experienced sexual assault or harassment.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
Visibility is critical to raising awareness of the rampant nature of sexual violence. But in a lot of ways, it isn’t telling me something I wasn’t already all-too aware of. Whether or not they choose to disclose, every woman I know, really know, has been sexually assaulted.
It’d be easy to write this fact off as a statistic probability — I’m a 22 year old woman who was a member of a sorority while I was at school, so there’s that element (even though women age 18-24 who aren’t enrolled in college are actually more likely to be sexually assaulted than their collegiate peers).
Regardless of whether they join in the #metoo hashtag, I don’t think I have a single female friend that hasn’t been harassed or assaulted.
— Heidi (@scherzicle) October 16, 2017
But not everyone on my Facebook feed who’s posting “me too” fits into that demographic. And when we sat and discussed #MeToo in the babe newsroom this morning, everyone present agreed: none of us know a woman who hasn’t experienced sexual violence.
the sad reality is "me too" feels more like "haven't we all?"….😔
— La Bronze James (@jackieaina) October 16, 2017
We’re obviously not talking back-alley, knifepoint assaults — but that’s not the kind of assault that’s most common, and it’s certainly not the only kind that counts. Between 85 percent and 90 percent of college women who are victimized know their attacker.
One can only hope that the fact that #MeToo has gone viral can open the eyes of people who don’t know that sexual assault is a constant for women, far beyond the rate that our statistics even demonstrate.
Before you ask what I was wearing, know that I was 4 years old. So let’s assume mommy didn’t dress me provocatively #MeToo
— dana sharon (@dandushka) October 16, 2017
Rape and other forms of sexually assault are woefully underreported. As of 2008, fewer than 5% of campus rapes were reported, according to the National Institute of Justice. Beyond campus life, 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
It is a grievous understatement to say that that’s extremely fucked up, and one can only hope that seeing the flood of #MeToo posts across our timelines and newsfeeds can spur some kind of action, or at the very least let survivors know that they aren't alone.
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