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With two words, a global movement was born.
In mid-October, shortly after sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein were first reported, actress Alyssa Milano posted an open letter on Twitter that encouraged victims of sexual abuse to share the magnitude of the problem, using the reply “Me Too.”
Milano’s call-out – the extension of an activist’s campaign launched a decade prior – was aimed to give the world a “sense of the magnitude of the problem.” And it certainly did.
Although data from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram show a viral spike immediately after the Weinstein revelations, the #MeToo movement has continued on and offline as allegations of sexual assault at the hands of people in power continue to surface – most notably in the US and the UK.
Variations on the campaign’s theme gained steam with an international audience in other countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America, adding their own linguistic spin and cultural insight into a global problem.
To date, there have been more than 2.3 million #MeToo tweets from 85 countries; on Facebook, more than 24 million people participated in the conversation by posting, reacting, and commenting over 77 million times since October 15.
In France, #BalanceTonPorc was a rallying call to many seeking legal avenues to tackle harassment. The hashtag, which roughly translates to “snitch out your pig” has reignited interest in a proposed sexual-abuse law that could make public catcalling and harassment a fineable offense.
In Italy, some used the phrase #QuellaVoltaChe, which translates to “That time when.” Across countries in the Spanish-speaking world, thousands used #YoTambien to relay their experiences. Arabic speakers in the Middle East and Africa tweeted a direct translation of the words “Me Too.”
Worldwide, these three messages were widely shared
“Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #MeToo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story,” writer Alexis Benveniste posted on Twitter. In the first two weeks of the campaign, it was shared 49,000 times – still the most-shared post across 85 countries worldwide, according to Twitter data.
The Women’s March, a political movement launched after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, posted: “To all the women sharing stories of sexual assault and sexual harassment, thank you for your bravery to speak up. You are not alone. #MeToo.”
“Men, Don’t say you have a mother, a sister, a daughter…Say you have a father, a brother, a son who can do better. We all can. #MeToo,” writer Nick Jack Pappas tweeted.
Countries who tweeted #MeToo the most
Social media users in the US, France, the UK, Canada and India were the most prolific #MeToo campaigners according to Twitter data. Here are some messages that resonated the most among users in each country.
US: Author and comedian Quinn Cummings wrote: “It’s not your clothing. It’s not your feminism. It’s not your education. It’s your assailant.”
FRANCE: Journalist Sandra Muller encouraged other women to step forward after writing about sexual harassment she endured from her boss on the job. “I’m waiting for you,” she wrote.
UK: Activist and reality show personality Liam Hackett struck a cord with the British audience, writing: “Stop policing the bodies of women and stop teaching young girls how ‘not to get raped’. Start teaching young boys about consent and fight against the toxic masculinity that underpins rape culture #metoo.”
CANADA: Law student Grace Starling’s message of strength and solidarity was widely shared throughout Canada. She said: “For those carrying their #MeToo with them silently, you are loved, cherished, and believed. You do not owe your story to anyone.”
INDIA: Novelist Pankaj Mishra reminded users in India about a high profile sex scandal that swept the subcontinent last year. He posed a question to the public about their response since.
“India’s #Weinstein moment happened last year. Just that we choose to bury our head in sand. Heard of a man named Mahesh Murthy?” he wrote, referring to a high-profile investor who was accused of verbal and sexual misconduct by at least three women. Murthy denied the allegations.