You can never force someone to care about something. What we regard as important or worth our time stems from our own beliefs and morals. But when it comes to sexual harassment and assault, there is no good reason you can give me to not care about it. Because the #METOO and #TIMESUP movements are something that everyone needs to care about.

 

In case you are totally unaware of what I’m talking about, here’s a little back story. The Me Too movement was a social media campaign, started in 2006 by Tarana Burke on Myspace. The movement was created to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly young women of colour and low wealth communities, to find a way to heal. The idea behind the movement is to empower through empathy, to ensure survivors know that they’re not alone in their journey.

In recent months, the hashtag #MeToo has resurfaced, and exploded on social media. On October 15th 2017, it was actress Alyssa Milano who encouraged the use of it as part of an awareness campaign to uncover the ubiquity of sexual abuse and harassment. That same day, more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts used the hashtag to share their own story.

This movement propagated internationally after the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations in Hollywood surfaced. A former American film producer and executive, Weinstein has a reputation for forcing models, actresses and other women in the entertainment industry to perform acts for him in order to be cast in his productions.

More than 80 women in the film industry have come forward and accused Weinstein of sexual abuse and misconduct. According to the reports given by said women, Weinstein would invite young actresses or models to a hotel room or office, on the pretext of discussing their career. Once he had them, he’d demand massages or sex, telling them if they complied, it would help their professional prospects. Renowned actresses and models Angelina Jolie, Myleene Klass, Cara Delevingne, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek are just a handful of the many who have come forward with their own stories of his misconduct.  

So hopefully now you know a little more about why you keep seeing this #MeToo hashtag. And hopefully you see why this is such a serious but momentous thing to happen. This movement has allowed millions of victims to find the power to speak up about their experiences, and be shown that they’re not alone. It’s opened the world’s eyes to the realities of what men and women in every country are enduring and staying quiet about, through fear of humiliation or the demise of their lives and careers.

What really hits me is that of the thousands upon thousands of those who have spoken out, just imagine how many more haven’t. Imagine the people who are yet to find the courage to break their silence. It’s heart-breaking, but it needs to be acknowledged.

Some have criticised the movement, claiming people, women in particular, are ‘playing the victim’ by making these accusations. Recently the American self-help celebrity Tony Robbins suggested that many women speaking out as part of the movement are “turning victimhood into personal gain”. In addition, famous designer Karl Lagerfeld has said he’s ‘fed up’ with the #MeToo movement, saying “If you don’t want your pants pulled about then don’t become a model!”.

Imagine being a young girl, on the brink of being introduced to the world of boys. Yet to experience the first time they feel trapped by those boys and men, who take advantage of you, who touch you in the club without consent, who shout at you as you walk down the street. Watching this, and being told it is not ever ok to be forced to do something you didn’t give consent for, would give them the power to speak up, and stand up for themselves. In fact, it WILL give young girls, and young boys, the foundations to speak out against sexual misconduct and abuse. Because this is just the start.

This kind of thing cannot, and should not, go ignored or side lined as another internet façade that will die a death. Because this movement, these voices, and these allegations are only the beginning of the start of a new chapter. So don’t sit by and watch it happen, or claim you don’t need to know about it because you’re not the problem. Ignorance is bliss, but it can also make you look a fool; so look up, speak up, and listen. Because this is something you should care about.