The recent “Me Too” movement against sexual violence, which started on Twitter in mid-October, has reached millions of people spanning across dozens of countries. Twitter has confirmed that over 1.7 million tweets include the hashtag, and another additional 85 countries each have at least 1,000 #MeToo tweets. The social media movement went viral after actress Alyssa Milano shared a tweet, stating, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” These tweets come in the wake of the sexual harassment and assault accusations against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.
Although the movement was started with a hashtag, posts about #MeToo have been popping up on Facebook as well. CBS reported that Facebook released statistics about the trend last Tuesday. The statistics showed that there were over 12 million posts, reactions and comments by 4.7 million users around the world. All of these posts occurred in less than 24 hours. With every refresh of Facebook’s newsfeed, users could find anywhere between a couple to over 10 posts of #MeToo. Many people shared the hashtag or two words; others shared a few sentences about their personal experiences with sexual violence and assault.
To see how widely the social media movement was affecting college students, a survey was conducted of Loras students. 100 students responded to the survey, which was sent out four days after the hashtag had been circulating. 83 percent of the students who responded had heard of #MeToo in the few days it had been circulating around the internet. 44 percent of them heard about the movement through a Facebook post, while 27 percent saw the hashtag on Twitter. 70 percent of students indicated they know someone who has experienced some type of sexual assault or violence.
While Loras students heard about the social media movement from different sources, a majority of them could agree on one thing: sexual assault, harassment and violence is not being talked about enough and happens too often. 63 percent of the students said that this type of violence needs to be talked about more widely and more consistently, not just when stories about sexual harassment make the news.
Loras has started several initiatives in the past to help promote discussion about sexual assault and defining consent for their students. A variety of informational posters were hung around the Alumni Campus Center and other campus buildings defining consent a few years ago. Students responded positively to these posters. However, they wish more initiatives would have followed.
“The issue needs to be discussed more,” one responder said in response to the survey. “The signs Loras posted were a wonderful start, but we need to start doing far more because a lot of us feel like we cannot talk about it.”
Many students also responded with the same idea. However, a few students brought up that while social media movements can be helpful in starting discussion, actual action needs to be taken in order for the problem to be confronted. Out of the students who responded to the survey, 62 percent of them thought the movement was either somewhat impactful or not at all impactful.
“If people want to stop sexual assault, they will be mindful at parties and take care of their friends,” a responder said. “Being an activist on social media does very little in the way of moving actual social change.”
“There needs to be more support at Loras, for both men and women who are victims,” another responder added. “It can happen to literally anyone.”
*Note: The survey conducted by The Lorian was anonymous to respect the confidentiality of the students who responded, including those who chose to share comments and their thoughts about the topic of sexual harassment.