Brave voices raise awareness through a hashtag

Hashtags have been used for a myriad of purposes, from referencing a meme to discussing political issues. The recent #metoo is one in a long line of internet commentary on social issues – in this case, on the sexual harassment and assault that both women and men endure.

After allegations against former film studio executive Harvey Weinstein, women and men started to use #metoo, making the hashtag go viral. Many people have come forward as survivors of sexual assault and harassment, including SF State students on campus who personally relate to the hashtag.

SF State senior Bresheena Bus Ad-Man said #metoo was brought up in one of her classes. She said talking about sexual abuse or harassment should be more conversational because sexual assault rates are so high on campus.  

“I think a hashtag like this brings awareness … It allows you to relate to somebody else with other people that are maybe going through the same thing,” said Bus Ad-Man.  

Bus Ad-Man has been assaulted before and said it’s something she has struggled with talking about.

“I really like [the hashtag] and I think it’s very brave and it takes a lot of courage, you know, if you have been a victim of that, to stand up and say,” she said. “I think I would be open to post #metoo. Maybe not exactly at this time of my life because I’m still working through that.”

Originally, the hashtag was started by Tarana Burke, an activist, over 10 years ago. She met a young girl who shared her story of being sexually assaulted and originally used the hashtag to help women of color who had been sexually abused to let them know they weren’t alone.

Although the hashtag had been created for women of color, people of all races and genders all over the United States and college campus stepped up to say “me too” after actress and activist Alyssa Milano called for people to post the hashtag in solidarity with Harvey Weinstein survivors.

Other SF students like Chelsea Ramseur, junior English education major, said she saw the hashtag through Twitter after the Harvey Weinstein allegations.

Ramseur said she noticed the hashtag was being posted by many family members, and her classmate even reached out for support after the hashtag went viral on Twitter.

“The more people that come forward, the more other people feel comfortable coming forward,” said Ramseur.

This subject is often discussed on college campuses due to the high numbers of campus assault reported. Based on a study by the Department of Justice around the Title IX law, 19 percent of women and 6 percent of men are sexually assaulted during their time in college

Women are the majority of individuals that have stepped forward as survivors, but men and people who do not identify with either gender have stepped forward as well in the movement, speaking about their experiences and acknowledging the hashtag as a symbol of understanding.

Lex De La Herran, senior political science major, said that social media is a good platform for people to come out and bring awareness to the public. He said the hashtag brought up that people shouldn’t be silent.

“If things can’t be solved through the law route, then things can be solved through the social route, instead,” said De La Herran.

De La Herran pointed out that many students don’t report the assault or harassment that leads them to isolation.

Another study by the Department of Justice said 90 percent of perpetrators are someone the victim knows.

Some students and people on social media made arguments against posting the hashtag, saying it made them feel as if they had to come forward.

Senior Laura Hannibal, English major and SF State student, said she has mixed feelings about posting the hashtag because it seems that the hashtag might not have the effect that people think it does.

“It seems that it always fall on the shoulders of the victims to prove their validity,” she said. “On the other hand, some people have found a measure of community and freedom from sharing their experiences.”                                  

While the hashtag faded out of the limelight a week after it went viral in October, the survivors still walk around campus. Bus Ad-Man believes that it is time that the survivors don’t feel alone.

If in need of help in a matter of sexual harassment or assault, the Safe Place on the second floor of the student services building is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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