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Media and Sexual Assault Awareness

Updated on January 5, 2018

In today’s world, sexual harassment and assault is no joke. Many celebrities and politicians have been investigated due to claims of sexual assault, and there have been, or will be, severe consequences for them. However, 2 out of 3 sexual assaults go unreported. The #MeToo campaign shows that media can have a positive influence on sexual assault victims, causing them to come forward and seek support from other victims.

On October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted something that would change the lives of millions. She started a campaign that would “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”. Since her initial tweet, #MeToo has been tweeted over 1.7 million times from 85 different countries. The me too movement was actually created in 2006, but Alyssa Milano’s tweet brought so much attention to something so life-changing.

A huge part of this movement spreading so quickly was the Harvey Weinstein accusations. With so many people speaking out against him for wrongdoings for decades, women felt inclined to share their experiences to make sure these women knew they were not alone. Weinstein had 84 women accuse him of sexual harassment and assault. While most people condemned Weinstein for his actions, there were of course people who took this opportunity to make a joke out if it. Many also took the opportunity to point out that Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump aren’t so dissimilar.

Media can make such an impact on social movements in today’s society. One thing goes viral on Twitter or Instagram and everything blows up. For example, Black Lives Matter became viral and got attention around the world. Not only did the #MeToo movement go viral on Twitter; news stations around the country began picking up the story and encouraging people to share their stories to stand up to this awful thing that has been going on for far too long. #MeToo had millions of hits on Google.

Reporting a sexual assault, let alone speaking about it at all, is an incredibly difficult thing to do. This movement created a platform for women to share their stories, and feel supported by other women who have felt the same way. In my opinion, this movement also created a much more extensive awareness of sexual assault. I don’t think people realized how often women (and men!) are sexually harassed or assaulted.

In response to the movement, “The Silence Breakers” were named TIME’S Person of the Year. This was a huge victory for women everywhere, as it showed that their voices were not going unheard. It also showed that they beat out President Trump, who has previously been accused of sexual harassment.

Another response to the #MeToo movement was the men's response. Men spoke out on social media and other outlets by saying that the true problem was not the fact that women were not speaking out. The true problem was, in fact, the behavior that was causing this pain, not the silence of it. Many men spoke up about the horrific behavior (which needed to change), which may have given some faith to victims that not all men are potential assaulters.

The impact that media can have on sexual assault awareness in astronomical. The number of assaults that are reported are so low, as are the number of offenders that actually get time. However, hopefully this movement will show victims that they can come forward, and they will be supported. Hopefully, the statistics in the photo below will drastically improve.

The me too movement has a website that goes into detail of some of what they consider to be major successes after being named TIME Person of the Year. The media attention brought to this movement created courage for people to speak out against other powerful figures, including Matt Lauer and Roy Moore. The media attention that this movement got created change in our world.

Sexual assault is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of, yet that seems to be the overall image of it. Media has such a strong potential to do good for the world by creating awareness of the things going on behind closed doors. While some media can be damaging, this #MeToo movement created an awareness that needed to be seen.


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