What is Me Too?
The hashtag Me Too began when sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein started to surface in 2017. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted out asking for people who have been sexually assaulted or harassed to reply to her tweet using the hashtag, within hours the response was overwhelming that it became a trending topic, she had a total of 500,000 replies in one day. Women and men who have never shared their experience began to open up and even report their attackers. So much so that The Canadian Press called it ‘The Story of the Year.’ Sexual assault is a very prevalent issue around the world and unfortunately, many stories go by without getting heard, sometimes for years, sometimes never. According to Statistics Canada, before the #MeToo, 59 people per day would report sexual assaults but after the hashtag began, the number increased to 74 people per day.
How is it affecting Canada?
The hashtag had a huge impact on the way people perceive sexual harassment, but it did not stop there. On December 2017, march for the Me Too movement took place in Downtown Toronto. The Canadian Parliament kept up with the change and passed Bill C-65 to “strengthen the existing framework for the prevention of harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in the work place…” The government has also spent about $10 million on opening the dismissed cases of reported sexual assault to study them with RCMP. Anything from groping to intercourse without consent, can be seen as rape in the eyes of the government however, 1 in 5 assault cases are dismissed by the police which means thousands of women don’t get to have their case looked at. Canadian Women’s Foundation says “Almost all Canadians (96%) believe all sexual activities should be consensual yet only 1 in 3 Canadians understand what it means to give consent,” Canadian famous actresses Rachel McAdams and Ellen Page were names that reported being sexually assaulted out of thousands.
On the other hand, not everyone believes in the Me Too movement or support it. Sexual assault allegations against U.S Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh began when Christine Blasey Ford’s confession went public and became headlines in many countries. Kavanaugh was nominated to the supreme court by U.S President Donald Trump who supported him through the trial and said “…Kavanaugh is an outstanding person and I am with him all the way. In my opinion, it’s totally political.” President Trump is not the only one who sees the allegations as false. Many people expressed their feelings on the issue thorough social media, agreeing with Donald Trump.
What is the future of #MeToo movement?
By the looks of it, the movement will only increase from this point on and continue to impact many lives, not only in Canada but around the world. There are currently more than 20 million tweets including the hashtag, and hundreds of men have quit their jobs or faced serious charges/went to jail. The issue that began with a Hollywood Producer, is now a massive political movement that impacted many people’s lives. A 17 year old girl in Ireland had committed suicide after the underwear she was wearing when she was raped was shown on court to prove she was ‘asking for it.’ Lots of people were furious and marched the streets against discrimination. The movement hit India recently and allegations against many Bollywood workers surfaced and had serious consequences… The movement is still growing and many women are still coming out day by day and creating conversations that weren’t heard before. It can be expected that the reports and confessions will increase more causing the community to have discussions about sexual assault or harassment. There will be certain organizations that spread awareness and teach right from wrong. However, right now there are limited support organizations that are in need of funding to help support victims of assault, harassment, etc. Minister of Employment, Patty Hajdu says “Not only have I been mandated by Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that federally regulated workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence, but this is also important to me, personally. Today, I’m proud to take another step in achieving this goal, and call on all Canadians to join me as we create a more respectful culture.”
Even though there are still many steps to go, a lot of people feel that a political movement supporting women was way overdue.
Podcast by Defne Ustun, Jordanna Tumilty, Emily Hosmer and Canadian Women’s Foundation
Pictures by CTV News