Bakersfield residents use #MeToo

Jenny Brito, Reporter

Women from all over the world have been posting the #MeToo on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to signify their struggles with sexual assault and harassment. What once was considered taboo has now given them back the power they felt was lost.

The movement gained popularity after recent allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein. After the first woman spoke out against him, many others began to do the same. As of now, there are dozens of women accusing Weinstein of inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

Many women, including celebrities, took notice of the controversy and decided to do something. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted on Oct. 15 asking survivors of sexual assault and harassment to post the #MeToo after seeing one of her friends doing so.

After the actress brought attention to the campaign, millions of women decided to speak up. Social media was soon filled with posts of females who had been sexually abused. Several Congress women have recently joined the cause and shared their experiences with others on social media.

Alyssa Milano is being praised as the female who started the movement. However, the movement is not new. In reality, it was initiated 10 years ago by a black female activist named Tarana Burke.

Burke launched #MeToo as a grassroots movement, and the purpose was to give a voice to women who had been affected by sexual assault, violence, harassment, and exploitation in underprivileged communities that did not have access to counseling or rape crisis centers.

In Bakersfield, dozens of females have also decided to speak up and condemn sexual assault.

One of those women is Beth, 24, who declined to provide her last name. She stated that she is no longer afraid to speak up. She first heard about the campaign online and decided to join the millions of other females who participated.

She tweeted an image that told how her best friend’s brother took advantage of her while she was asleep.

When asked why she decided to join the movement, Beth said that she had been a victim of rape attempts many times and had to deal with men being vulgar toward her for years. She hoped that sharing her story would show women around the world that they are not alone.

Some females are still reluctant to join the #MeToo because they fear that others will judge them. To them, Beth said that, “speaking out isn’t a mistake and it will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders and you will have so much support.”

Another female from Bakersfield also shared the reasons that motivated her to post about sexual assault.

Tiffany Blaylock said that she found the #MeToo thread on social media too powerful to ignore.

“It is a way to say we’ve been abused sexually without going into the heartbreaking details about it,” Blaylock said. She added that it helped her see that she was not alone and what happened to her was not her fault.

While the campaign was started by women for other women, others have also attempted to claim the hashtag as their own. Transgender individuals as well as men have said that people should not forget that they can be victims, too.

Henry, 28, who declined to provide his last name, explained that he chose to participate in the campaign despite knowing that it was targeted toward women because he wanted others to see that men can also be raped.

He shared that he is aware that females are the most common victims, but men also need support.

“It is much more difficult for men to talk about this because others either make fun of us or think we are less than a man for it,” Henry stated.

#MeToo is still growing, and the hashtag has been used approximately 825,000 times, according to a Twitter spokesperson.

Burke recently took to Twitter to say that she was pleased to see that so many women were being empowered by her campaign.