The #Metoo movement (hereinafter called ‘the Movement’) is a hashtag, which has been widely used on social media to resist sexual assault and sexual harassment. The American actress Alyssa Milano, who plays a crucial role in promoting the movement, encourages women to disclose their sexual assault experience on social media platforms. As a gender-based violence, sexual misbehaviors are treated as a criminal, organizational and ethical problem (O’Neil, Sojo, Fileborn, Scovelle & Milner, 2018). Currently, this movement has caused a lot of thinking and discussion.
In fact, this sexual misbehaviors’ issue was not valued in the past because it is widely believed that sexual assault is a minority. However, according to the research of WHO (2013), more than one-third of women all over the world have experienced sexual assault or sexual violence, which brings them infinite physical and mental harm. When realizing the serious situation, people have focus on the Movement.
Nowadays, as an increasing number of people have participated in the #Metoo, and people begin to think about the movement itself. Many think it makes sense and brings values, whereas there are still some people criticizing it.
Values and Opportunities Brought By the Movement
There are four main opportunities and values of the Movement: 1. it provides opportunities on the physical and mental recovery for the victims. 2. It provides opportunities on protecting women’s rights. 3. It motivates the world to reshape standards of thinking. 4. It prompts the government to establish more comprehensive laws
Specifically, when discussing the recovery, we must understand the enormous harm that sexual assault can lead to. Berg (2006) pointed that suffering from sexual violence can lead to heavy psychological stress and even unstoppable fear. This mental hurt can lead to severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can trigger the victims to experience the pain repeatedly in the mind, and even lead to self-harm, suicide and other serious behaviors.
At the same time, psychological damage can be transformed into physical harm. Long-term psychological pressure can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and even cancer (Cohen, Janicki-Deverts & Miller, 2007). Thanks to the Movement, the victims can pour out their own misfortunes on the social platforms, they no longer have to hide this encounter, and because the participants of this activity are numerous, the victims will not feel lonely and stressed, which can help them to recover.
Secondly, essentially, the activity is a feminist movement. Solving the problems on economy and the whole society is the key to improve women’s health (Marmot et al., 1991). In other words, by defending the health rights of women, the Movement pushes people to pay attention to women’s status and gender equality. It has challenged the absolute rights of men. The patriarchal power structure has strict gender norms and control over women. The Movement challenges the traditional view that women have no rights to express pain and fight for interests. The Movement speaks for women, and show that women’s willingness and feelings should be respected.
Next, the Movement pushes the changes in the traditional ways of thinking. From the perspectives of women themselves, after sexual assault, women themselves feel ashamed. The research on 136 women in the UK shows that the women would blame their own bodies, actions after crimes, but not the abusers (Vidal & Petrak, 2007). Beyond that, the public is likely to blame the victims as well. After a crime, the public would evaluate the woman’s dress, career or personal behaviors. For example, if the woman is in the revealing clothing, she would be accused of frivolity. Even, people may say that she deserves to be sexually assaulted. As a result, women refuse to speak up after suffering. Then, from the view of the perpetrators, they try to rationalize their actions and show their innocence.
They emphasize that they do the sexual harassment due to their animal nature, which should not be blamed. They mean that they are tempted, so they misbehave. Or some men think women are quite shy and unwilling to express themselves. When a man offers the sex requirements, even if the woman says “no”, she means “yes” in the mind. Now, the Movement reverses these concepts. It specifies right and wrong, yes and no. There are no reasons for the victims to be injured, no matter how they act or dress.
Women have freedom to act as they like, and the ways they choose do not mean to seduce others. The criminal is wrong and the victim should not be blamed at all. The movement also pointed that the animal nature of abuser is driven by the human nature, and their behavior is not unconscious and innocent. More importantly, the Movement emphasized that what women say is their true intention, yes means yes, no means no.
Finally, the Movement promotes the development of laws. Previously, many countries have clearly stated that sexual assault is illegal and have prescribed penalties for it. However, the sex harassment is not defined clearly. In fact, the sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem. When the Movement emerged, the government began to come up with solutions and make changes on laws (Berkowitz, 2018). For example, in South Korea, the government has clearly defined workplace sexual harassment as well as sentencing. Simultaneously, the law requires the employers to give a lecture or meeting to employees on preventing harassment. The government has also detailed the crimes of sexual assault.
Specifically, South Korea’s criminal code includes rape, imitative rape and quasi rape. The laws also provide the definition of indecent act. The punishments and sentencing vary depending on victims’ ages and whether the victim is disabled or not. In general, as a result of the Movement, governments are attaching greater importance to sex crimes and making changes to protect their citizens.
Criticism of the Movement
Although the Movement has attracted great attention and promoted social development, some people still remain doubts. People’s criticism mainly focuses on its limitations and authenticity.
First and foremost, the Movement is thought to be biased and have gone too far. It began as a voice for female victims and later for all women. In this process, it blames the male offenders at first, but later, it seems that the entire male community is blamed (Beeson, 2018). All men are considered as potential criminals. Some people also state that the Movement does not mean to pursue the gender equality, but it tries to put female above male and give a moral judgement of men. In reality, the sexual assault victims have no gender limitations. Compared to the women who have been sexually abused, male victims are also the groups that need attention.
The Movement defines all male as perpetrators, which is a huge emotional damage for the male victims. What is more, the Movement tends to be nothing more than the victim narrative. They tell about their experiences and express anger. Then, the commenters would “trial on Twitter” (Clark, 2018). Such trails are ineffective, which can just be used to express emotions.
Secondly, the authenticity of the stories told by women in the movement has been questioned. The self-narrative of a victim’s experiences of sexual assault can lead to an emotional tendency. Commenters praise the bravery of the victims and ignore the truth of the incidents. At the same time, the incidents have been gone on for years, so it is difficult for collecting evidence. Then, the authenticity cannot be verified.
In summary, the Movement has sparked a global debate now. It brings values on protecting sexual assault victims. The activity contributes mental and physical recovery of victims, and it promotes gender equality. Additionally, it encourages victims to expose crime without being ashamed. The models of thinking and judgement have also been redefined for the public. However, as the campaign goes deeper, it is being questioned. Since the victims only state the experience without absolute evidence, the authenticity was suspected.
Then, people begin to realize the significance of the Movement is inclining to express feelings and just condemn the offenders online. The Movement is biased, as it defines the male community as potential criminal, which causes great dissatisfaction. In words, it must be admitted that the values exceed its limitations. To a large extent, the Movement deserves further promotion. However, the criticism is objective, so the Movement should make some adjustments in the future.