American actress, singer, songwriter and producer Alyssa Milano on Sunday posted a note on her Twitter account that went viral in no time.
The note read: "Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."
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
In the past 24 hours, #MeToo has been tweeted more than half a million times and we don't even know the statistics of other social media sites. What started as a hashtag to check just the magnitude, became a strong statement, overnight and helped people to come out of the closet and share their heart-wrenching stories.
Just like others, even I was cynical about the outcome. I thought this might be another mode of seeking validation through social media. But, no. It was more than that.
Yesterday and even today, every other post on my timeline had only one hashtag. Every other person, irrespective of the gender, on my timeline was one of the many who had faced abuse, at some point in their life.
I'm lucky enough that I haven't faced any kind of harassment, but I've seen people suffer and how they are still trying hard to overcome it.
Be it the horrific incident when a man flashed his private parts with my best friend on a moving train or the male friend who was sexually abused by a distant relative, when he was just eleven.
The number of posts I've seen on my feed since yesterday is staggering. It leaves me shocked, makes me wonder the kind of society we live in.
I usually prefer to go through multiple websites to do my research on any article, but today as I write this, my Facebook timeline has provided me with enough content to write about.
These stories are not limited to a specific area or section. These are all universal stories. Here are some of the moving ones that I've read in the last 24 hours:
Be it a distant cousin opening about how she was groped by a man of her grandfather's age.
Or a good old friend who finally gathered up the courage to not just come out of the closet but destroy it.
A colleague who I meet, every day!
Or a friend who I have met socially, just once or twice.
And someone who is hopeful that things will change for better!
While the majority of people are empathetic towards the brave souls who have shared their stories, it's sad to see that some are still being judged for their choices.
For example, a colleague was snapped back by her Facebook friend when she posted a similar update.
And some even went to another level to threaten a young woman publicly.
And some just mocked the whole idea!
"While some might question the sustainable impact of this trend, but you can't ignore the fact that a lot of people have gathered the courage to come out in the open. Being a survivor myself, it might not long-lasting impact on the society, or it might be forgotten like many trends, but for the person who is gathering the courage to speak up, it is empowering and it makes a difference," answered a colleague when I questioned about the feeling after posting her story.
The last 24 hours made me realize that so many people I know have faced some form of harassment at some point in their lives. If this is not enough to make one understand the gravity of the issue, I don't know what will. Saying things like "this is just an attempt to gain sympathy" or "such campaigns promote victimhood", just sheds light on society's double standards.
We don't need to question the victims, nor do we need to stand behind them to protect them; all we need to do is stand with them.
Title image source: The Hindu