No one could have foreseen how a single tweet by the actress Alyssa Milano would turn into a global movement. In her tweet, Milano urged women to step up and bring to light their experiences of sexual abuse using the phrase ‘me too’. Since the tweet went viral in October last year, the #MeToo movement has seemingly reached every corner of the world. These two simple words brought a sense of empowerment to survivors, who courageously came forth to demand justice against the perpetuators of abuse.
However, when a movement with such power gains momentum, it isn’t long before backlash follows. Numerous people began to claim that #MeToo was spinning out of control, and that the presence of such a movement fosters an environment for false accusations. This refrain quickly acquired a name called the #HimToo movement. More recently, President Donald Trump chipped in saying ‘it is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of’.
It’s important to deal with the issues of such a narrative. Through this twisted take that breeds on fear, a notion is being created that false accusations are rampant. The reality however proves otherwise as a recent study in UK shows that ‘false allegations make up 0.62% of all rape cases’. By depicting men as the real victims of the #MeToo movement, the absurd notion arises that men ought to fight against an initiative that aims to ensure the safety of women. Why? To protect men’s image, of course.[pullquote]The #MeToo movement is, above everything, about equality[/pullquote]
Furthermore, it perpetuates the harrowing mind state wherein the fear of being wrongfully accused is stronger than the fear of continued sexual assault and harassment towards women around the word. The movement finds a way to turn the tables on the victims of sexual assault by questioning their intent and doubting their story, so silencing them. Not unlike other movements, such as #notallmen, the #HimToo movement is a powerful tool of stirring the conversation away from what truly matters. It’s a tactic that diverts attention away from survivors, giving attention to abusers.
A recent study stated that ‘men are more likely to be raped than be falsely accused of rape’. By making the #MeToo movement a battle of the sexes, the problematic idea that sexual abuse is something women report and men are accused of is perpetuated. Thus, the multiple cases of male survivors are ignored. While the focus of the #MeToo movement has been on empowering women to share their experiences of sexual abuse, it also created a platform which helped numerous men speak out about their experiences of sexual abuse. The alternate narrative creates a backward step, encouraging the silence of victims.
It boils down to a basic fundamental fact - the #MeToo movement is, above everything, about equality. The movement is about cultivating a world where women are respected and valued as human beings. Through the backlash and criticism, the fearless strength of survivors remains, fighting for a day where no individual shares the pain of the phrase ‘me too’.