The #MeToo movement as we know today was initiated back in 2006 by Tarana Burke, an American activist from New York. The purpose of the #MeToo movement was to encourage women who faced sexual harassment, or abuse to come and stand up for themselves. The movement did not gain global popularity until 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women to use the title “MeToo” as a hashtag on Twitter. Initially, the phrase was used by women to tweet about the case of Harvey Weinstein, who was placed with allegations on sexual abuse. But soon enough, the hashtag got viral and became a global movement.
Ever since then this movement has gained momentum in both the Western and Eastern countries. It has caused large impacts on the social structures where victims are not allowed to speak up. There are many who support the movement and come out for physical protests, but they’re also many – mostly men or conservative individuals – who are against this movement and believe that it is a way to instill hate for the male gender and a way to destroy “pre-destined” gender roles.
What initially started as a way for women to share stories of their sexual harassment and abuse encounters, quickly became a gender, race, and age neutral global phenomenon. There are many men who have become a part of this movement. It has raised awareness about toxic masculinity and toxic femininity – terms that not long ago were unheard by most of us. Both of these negatively affect males and females. Men feel pressured to act in problematic way because of toxic masculinity and then they hurt women with their words and actions. Similarly, toxic femininity is women shaming other women over physical features or personal grudges and bringing them down. All of these issues and many others are brought up in annual #MeToo movements.
Patriarchy is a critical issue raised in #MeToo movements. Most societies in the world are patriarchal societies. Some more than the others but overall same in the roots. Feminism has come a long way but it has been a very tedious struggle against the patriarchy that continuously wants to bring women down and make them feel inferior. Patriarchy forces women to stay inside their homes and follow gender roles such as being a homemaker and a mother. While there is nothing wrong with adopting domestic responsibilities, the fight here is for choice. The #MeToo highlights that point. There are many women around us who are ambitious and have dreams and aspirations. Patriarchy does not allow them to pursue these goals. #MeToo has played an important role in shutting down the patriarchy by encouraging women to speak against and by raising awareness for them to understand their rights as equal citizens.
For the above reasons and many others, which are beyond the scope of this article, the #MeToo should exist and be supported by people. It has given a voice to victims who were previously alone and gives courage to others to come forward.