Nearly everyone who uses social media in the U.S. has probably heard of #MeToo by now, and for some of us it absolutely dominated our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The movement surged in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal to show just how prevalent sexual assault and harassment is. And it revealed a widespread problem: The #MeToo hashtag was used more than 100,000 times on Twitter just on Sunday, according to Mashable. That doesn’t count subsequent days, the number of mentions on Facebook or people who referenced the movement without the hashtag.
Actress Alyssa Milano credited a woman named Tarana Burke for starting the movement 10 years ago, when she was a youth camp director and a young girl told Burke about her mother’s boyfriend sexually abusing her. Burke said she “literally could not take it anymore” and “cut her off” and directed her to talk to another counselor, because she had experienced something similar to the girl in her past. As the girl walked away, and Burke could see the damage she had done by rejecting her story, she said she couldn’t bring herself to say what she was thinking: “Me, too.”
But now, while people are expressing support and admiration for the women who came forward, some want to shift the focus from the typical victims of sexual assault – women – to its typical perpetrators – men.
Women account for 91 percent of victims of rape, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and nearly half of lesbian women, nearly half of heterosexual women and three-quarters of bisexual women report being the victims of sexual violence sometime in their lives. One in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime, while 40 percent of gay men, 47 percent of bisexual men and 20 percent of heterosexual men report being the victims of sexual violence at some point in their lives.
For survivors of rape who are female, a man was the perpetrator 98 percent of the time, according to a 2011 study. For survivors of rape who are male, a man was the perpetrator 93 percent of the time.
The hashtag #HimThough, born out of #MeToo, especially highlighted this problem.
“I’m proud of women for sharing their stories on #MeToo but we need a shift about how we talk about sexual assault so I’m starting #HimThough,” tweeted Liz Plank, a journalist for Vox Media. “#MeToo I was sexually harassed, physically and verbally attacked. But what about him though? Who decided it was women’s job to fix men?”
A quote by Jackson Katz, who gave a TED Talk on the responsibility of men to end sexual violence, also made the rounds on social media platforms in the same vein.
“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women,” Katz said.
Other hashtag movements had similar messages and were embraced by thousands of men, including #IHearYou and #HowIWillChange.