#MeToo — When the Numbers are More than Metrics

On Sunday, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted out a call-to-action for women everywhere: tell your story. The actress encouraged people to post a reply to her tweet, “me too,” to show the immense volume of women who have experienced some sort of sexual assault, harassment, or abuse. Milano brought to the surface something all women understand and deal with, yet find difficult to talk about. Too often the conversation around sexual assault and harassment, until recently, has stayed within close circles of friends. This Twitter trend gives a glimpse into just how many women have experienced some sort of sexual harassment or abuse.  Social media, in this case, is the megaphone for sounding the alarm on these issues in a way that didn’t previously exist, truly speaking to the power of this platform. Since she tweeted on Sunday, Alyssa Milano has received over 44,000 replies to her tweet. The trend quickly caught on to other forms of social media platforms and women started sharing their stories en masse. I saw Senators posting on Facebook, friends tweeting about it, and celebrities sharing on Instagram. In the 24 hours since the tweet was originally posted, over 542,300 people have used the hashtag on Twitter, including over 250,700 original tweets. The chart below shows just how quickly this trend took off on Sunday afternoon. alyssa milano graph  As the hashtag has gone viral, tweets mentioning stories of sexual assault or harassment have been shown to over 1.6 billion people (and counting) across the globe.  Of the Twitter mentions on this topic, 68.3 percent of them came from women, roughly translating to about 370,390 women – and these are just those brave enough to share their stories online, and actively use Twitter. But if women shared their stories on social media, in a way that begets a trending hashtag, people would be incapable of ignoring it or misunderstanding its pervasiveness, much like women are incapable of ignoring the sexism, misogyny, and disrespect that pervades our daily lives. To see my friends, family members, and coworkers proclaim publicly that we’re all unfortunately part of this club, was not only empowering, but provided a hopeful optimism that, if we could amplify the reach of these issues, then others would take note too, and maybe something could be done.   

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