The #MeToo movement has taken the world by storm. It was The Canadian Press’s story of the year and the ‘Silence Breakers’ were listed as Time Magazine’s Person of the year.
Social activist Tarana Burke started the movement in 2006 and it gained popularity last year when Alyssa Milano use it as a hashtag.
The hashtag has reached international recognition – #YoTambién, #WoYeShi and #MoiAussi are just a few of the variations.
But with any movement that challenges social norms, #MeToo has received backlash. Prominent celebrities have called it a ‘witch hunt’ and that many are worried that ‘being friendly’ with a woman will get them into trouble.
That is not what the movement is about.
“The work of #MeToo is about healing,” said Burke at a recent talk. “It’s about healing as individuals and healing as communities. And it’s about interrupting sexual violence wherever it lives.”
She pointed out that the movement also has to ‘include men, whose experiences with sexual violence she said are often childhood abuse.’
It is clear we have needed this movement for a while, and if you don’t believe it, check out these facts.
· A recent poll found that more than half of women in Canada have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, with the most common issues being physical touching, cat calls, being referred to using derogatory or demeaning sexual terms and being pressured for dates
· According to the YWCA of Canada out of every 1000 reported sexual assaults 33 are reported to the police, 12 have charges are laid, 6 are prosecuted and only 3 lead to conviction
· Even though the rate of self-reported sexual assaults has remained relatively stable, the percentage of offenses that were reported to the police dropped from about 12% in 200951 to 5% in 2014
· Women with disabilities and those who are institutionalized, Aboriginal women, single women, and women who are unemployed or have low-incomes are at heightened risk of sexual assault
· Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Since 1999, rates of sexual assault have remained relatively unchanged