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#MeToo: Alyssa Milano’s Hashtag that Started a Movement

“Me Too.” Two simple words that ignited an anti-sexual assault alliance on social media after actress Alyssa Milano used the hashtag to fan the flames of a long-burning fire.

“Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” Milano wrote in a Tweet.

Thousands of women and men resonated with her message. 68,000 people commented, 25,000 reshared, and 53,000 liked Milano’s Tweet. As a result, they followed suit and tagged their posts with #MeToo, posting photos, infographics, videos, and comics related to their experiences.

Pretty Litter

Since then, other celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Hilarie Burton, Rosario Dawson, Mark Ruffalo, and Javier Muñoz, have joined the cause in either sharing their experiences or voicing their support.

In addition to #MeToo, women boycotted Twitter for a day after the website suspended actress Rose McGowan’s account because her Tweet included a private phone number. The actress wrote a few different tweets regarding sexual assault. Some people protested her suspension with #WomenBoycottTwitter, but others did not support these protests.

On the flip side, men are using #NotMe to indicate that they have never sexually assaulted a woman.

Milano, an actress who frequently posts political content on Twitter, has received credit for the campaign’s creation; however, activist Tarana Burke actually started it over 10 years ago, according to CBS News. This revelation originally came from journalist Britni Danielle‘s Tweet.

“Shout out to my girl @taranaburke who has been advocating for assault victims & saying #MeToo for years. metoo.support,” Danielle wrote in her Tweet.

Milano later replied and acknowledged that she did not know about the original movement.

Burke launched the new metoo.support website on October 19th, which contains information about the Me Too Movement. The values of this movement include empowerment, connection, and education. The website describes how the movement hopes to empower women through empathy, connect women with other Sexual Abuse, Assault, or Exploitation survivors, and educate youth in schools about sexual assault. 

The website’s front page displays statistics about sexual assault from the Rape, Abuse and National Incest Network (RAINN) and includes a link to a webinar about the movement, which will occur on October 24th.

Tarana Burke started the campaign after she met a girl named Heaven during an all-girl bonding session at her youth camp, where many girls shared personal stories. After this session, Heaven found Burke to ask if she could speak with her one-on-one. During their conversation, Heaven told Burke about how her mother’s boyfriend acted inappropriately toward her. Burke later referred Heaven to another woman counselor so she could talk to someone who could “help her better.”

“I will never forget the look because I think about her all of the time. The shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again – it was all on her face,” Burke states.

It was after this moment that she started the “Me Too” campaign.

“I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…me too,” Burke explained.

CBS reports that this encounter inspired her to launch Just Be Inc. in 2007 and name her movement “Me Too.”

Burke encourages people to realize that “Me Too” isn’t just a fleeting campaign – it’s a catchphrase survivors can use as a call to action.

“It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible,” she told Ebony in an interview.

With such a powerful message behind two simple words, hopefully taking action is the next step in ending sexual assault for good.

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