#MeToo campaign leads to #HimThough

Survivors of sexual assault have found the viral social media campaign #MeToo problematic since it focuses the discussion on the survivor and not the perpetrator. In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault scandal, thousands of women have shared their story with the now viral hashtag #MeToo. However, since the hashtag became  widespread weeks ago several other hashtags have been appearing as a response.

An example of this is the hashtag created by Elizabeth Plank, producer of Divided States of Women for Vox Media. The hashtag #HimThough wants to pivot the conversation from the survivor to the perpetrator. She has stated several times that sexual assault should not be a woman’s issue since it is mostly men who commit the assaults.

This tweet began a movement of responses with people urging other men to be better allies towards sexual assault survivors. Tarana Burke, the activist and founder of the Me Too campaign agrees with some of the criticism that the campaign has been under. “I get why people believe that, because like I said the face of sexual violence are the survivors, and mainly women survivors,” Burke said.

Plank shared in social media an interview she conducted with Dr. Jackson Katz, an activist that educates people on violence against women, and educates men in the definition of consent. He stated that the bar for being an ally and a good man should be much higher than just saying ‘I don’t rape women’ or ‘I’m not a rapist’. He is one of the several people Plank interviewed for Divided States of Women that sparked from the viral hashtag #HimThough.

Although Plank wants to shift the conversation to how men should be held accountable for perpetrating sexual assault, Burke argued that the thousands of tweets and stories shared have a more powerful effect, an effect that can lead to change. “It is on us to tell the world what is happening,” Burke said, “I think it’s astonishing the fact that people are shocked and saying ‘oh my god! there are millions of them, I can’t believe it!’ When we’ve been saying this for years, so I definitely get that critique, but at the same time there is an amplification that is necessary. I wish it wasn’t, but it is necessary.”

From entertainment and media stars to politicians, several men in power are being reported, and for the first time they are being fired and punished at a rate we have never seen before.

However, some of her followers expressed the need for harsher consequences. Several of the men accused have lost their job, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey are just examples. Twitter user Alex Carbonneau believes that losing a job might not be enough.

Survivors from all over the world have shared their stories of assault, and including Long Islanders.  After allegations against different celebrities, media professionals, and people all around the country were showed in the media, several residents of Long Island decided to share their own story. An example is Christine.

The story of Christine is one of the thousands shared in social media, however, not all survivors are willing to share their experiences. Burke began the movement as a way for survivors to find a support system, and find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. She wants anyone who finds comfort in the words “me too” to join the movement, but does not intend for anyone to share their story if they are not ready or willing.

“Your story is your story to tell in your own time, in your own way. That fear of missing out we have that people want to be a part of the moment, I get that too. You see [the hashtag] everywhere and you say ‘this is the moment to get it out there’, and you don’t think about the consequences,” Burke said. She believes that this is a big step in one’s healing process since she is not only sharing her story with people she is comfortable and people she trusts. Once her story is in social media it is exposed to any one of her six thousand followers. That is why she stated that it is important for survivors to only participate if they are willing and understanding of the consequences. “Don’t participate if you don’t want to. There is no obligation ever in your life to tell your story if you don’t want to,” Burke said, “for every #MeToo there is probably 30 more that are not saying, and that’s okay. I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to participate, you shouldn’t try to convince people to give you your dignity, your humanity.”

Other people have joined the conversation in support of survivors by stating how they will change in order to stop perpetrating rape culture. The hashtag #HowIWillChange began by a group of men stating what changes they will do in their lives in order to hold higher standards for themselves and their friends and protect anyone that might be assaulted, as well as support anyone that might have been sexually assaulted in the past. Benjamin Law is one of the thousands of men changing the conversation towards personal improvement, and urging other men to do the same in an effort to end rape culture and hold perpetrators accountable.