#MeToo shows improvement in discourse on sexual assault and harassment

Written by: 
Emmalee Smith

The #MeToo movement is an effective way to raise awareness and show support for those who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, said BYU-Hawaii students.

The movement spread rapidly on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook following a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano on Oct. 15. She tweeted “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” People began posting on their own social media accounts with the hashtag #MeToo or just the words “Me Too.”

“What’s going on is not political or conservative. It’s good for everyone to be aware [of what’s happening],” said Sister Michelle Wall, a senior missionary that works for the Counseling Center. She added how a lot of sexual abuse stories stay in the dark because some victims think they deserved it and are afraid of what people might say to them.

Tiffany Greer, a senior majoring in elementary education from Virginia, said, “It was freeing and liberating to be able to share [my experience]. Seeing the magnitude of what happens to people made me really reach outside of myself and show love to those around me.”

Ellie Isobe, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies from Utah, said she’s seen a lot of people post #MeToo on Facebook and some really surprised her. She said, “They seemed so innocent and pure, but when I think about it [sexual predators] don’t avoid nice looking people.

“I knew their experiences, but I didn’t think to label it as sexual assault or abuse.” She said she questioned herself on whether her experiences were actually sexual assault.

Moananui Kadarmia, a junior studying biology from New Zealand, said seeing the posts did not surprise him because he’s had friends and family who have been sexually harassed and assaulted.

He said sexual assault and harassment “is probably a more common occurrence than we think it is.” He stated sexual assault affects everyone and should be addressed immediately. “[It] doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, your race, age, or whoever it is.”

Regarding increasing sexual assault and harassment allegations against American movie producer Harvey Weinstein, Wall said it was “okay” to ignore sexual abuse in the 1980s, “but coming out now is not that way anymore because it will be taken seriously. You don’t have to be famous and abused.”

Wall said mothers, aunties, siblings, and others need to be more aware and less judgmental of others. She said if youth approach them about sexual abuse and are questioned what they were wearing or where they were, they won’t open up in the future.

She told a story about how her and her family were traveling on the freeway years ago. On the side of the freeway they saw two girls wearing very little clothing. After passing them, her eldest daughter said, “They’re asking for it.”

“My husband, turned and said, ‘Just because of how they dress doesn’t mean they deserve harm.’” Wall said, “Everyone deserves to be respected, whether or not they respect themselves.”

Joey Stanford, a senior studying math education from California, said he had seen instances of sexual harassment in the past. “I saw it in the public realm. With bros it gets pretty filthy.”

Kadarmia said he likes the movement because it shows people don’t have to be quiet about it. He said this is especially good for youth, who normally hide these problems and aren’t outspoken about them.

He said he saw people share very personal experiences of sexual assault on Facebook and was concerned with the way of publicizing these issues. “It’s good to speak up, but you don’t necessarily need to say it on Facebook.

“I don’t think they’ll get the support they need from Facebook. Not everyone, to be quite honest, really cares, should hear it, or are dependable people. They need help, support, and understanding from the right people.”

Unlike Kadarmia, Isobe said she thinks the Facebook posts are a good way to receive comfort. “They’re comforting because there’s this community that’s like a safety net.”

Date Published: 
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Last Edited: 
Tuesday, October 24, 2017