If you are an active and avid internet user and you haven’t heard about the Harvey Weinstein incident, you must be living under some sort of electronic rock. People on the internet have taken this opportunity to talk about sexual assault, and the systematic oppression of the women due to the structure of the power in the society. I’m glad that people are paying attention to this problem, but I wish like many other internet issues this does not end as a superficial trend that fades and is replaced by the next one.
Parallel to the Weinstein news the online trend you’ve probably seen, #MeToo, has become a hot topic. The hashtag is circling around with the supposition that if all women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment used the hashtag it would show the scope of the problem. I have a question; is the knowledge about the scope of sexual assault the real problem?
Today on facebook I saw some old friends share #metoo. My hand trembled as I started wondering if I too should share the hashtag. But I did not; I told myself that I am not a fan of these social media bandwagons, that I’m not sure if any similar hashtag trends have actually had any positive effect for their cause. That I think the society is well aware about the scope of sexual harassment and assault, that posting a hashtag on twitter or facebook makes people feel good about themselves without taking positive action. Or perhaps it was ‘shame’ that hindered me, you never know with these things.
But there is so much to talk about when it comes to sexual assault; statistics about sexual assault and harassment are not trustworthy for many different reasons, and we all know that. But we also do not need these statistics to know about the problem or its scope. It’s not a new or newly discovered issue, the discourse of sexual assault and rape has been historically used for asserting control over women and their behavior, it’s nothing new. I think we are spreading awareness to help with this issue we need other types of awareness, one’s that help people take action.
A hashtag campaign dedicated to simply checking your name in the victims list will remind people about the problem but will not bring about useful change. I wish there was a hashtag campaign that would encourage speaking up for, and protecting those around us who are facing sexual harassment and assault. If anything the Harvey Weinstein case demonstrates how the power structure silences the assaulted and forces them into compliance. If no one was surprised about the incident, then the problem is not as much awareness but it’s about silence and inaction.
The #MeToo may break the stigma and give the ones who have suffered the courage to step forward, but I think what we really need is to teach people how to potentially support sexual assault targets in their surroundings. I do not even know what the correct protocol is,and I am eligible for #metoo, because we like to shut out the thought of such acts happening in our immediate surroundings. I believe that sometimes our reluctance to acknowledging that these things can happen around us can lead to questioning the claims of those who have suffered. This is what we need a trend for, a trend that brings us together and teaches us how to support each other.
Also it seems there is some fault with the neo-liberal capitalist system; it appears that assets, professional aspiration, and corporate hierarchy are big factors in people turning a blind eye. I do not have appropriate knowledge to deploy criticism in this aspect, but I feel that being a little anarchist, and creating local support communities could do wonders.
What would you do if you picked up signs of sexual assault from an acquaintance, a child, a coworker, a school friend, etc.? How do you think we can counter the silence that protects people like Weinstein?