Over the last week, social media platforms in several countries around the world trended with the hashtag #MeToo. The campaign gathered over 12 million posts and reactions on Facebook in the first 24 hours and was tweeted about nearly 1.6 million times within a span of a week.
It wasn’t long before people began including personal accounts of harassment with their status updates reflecting not just that sexual harassment is widespread but also that it occurs at various stages of a woman’s life – at the hands of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers alike and in different locales ranging from so-called ‘safe spaces’ like homes, schools and universities to unavoidable public spaces such as streets and on public transport.
Here’s why the #MeToo campaign should be looked at as an important moment reflecting a collective experience of trauma and injustice – one that implores us to reflect on its pattern, causes and potential remedies.
First, the widespread nature of the campaign drew attention to sexual harassment as a commonplace and everyday occurrence for women. Several people expressed dismay and shock at their social media feeds being flooded with female friends posting #MeToo, and admitted to it being more ubiquitous than they had previously realised.