NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Tens of thousands of women are recounting being sexually harassed or assaulted by flooding social media with the hashtag #metoo in the wake of claims against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Their stories of being verbally abused, groped, molested and raped by bosses, teachers and family come after American actress Alyssa Milano called on Twitter users on Sunday to post “Me too” to share their experiences of being harassed or worse.
Women - and men - quickly responded on Twitter and Facebook. Many wrote that they had never known a woman who had not been sexually harassed or assaulted.
“Lived a life in a world where it was expected, grew thinking I deserved it,” wrote another. “Couldn’t begin to count the # times or men-far too many.”
Many on Twitter and Facebook simply wrote “Me Too,” including actresses Anna Paquin, Patricia Arquette, Debra Messing and Anika Noni Rose and singer Lady Gaga.
“Me too. I don’t know if means anything coming from a gay man but it’s happened. Multiple times,” tweeted Broadway actor Javier Munoz.
Weinstein’s accusers include actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who told The New York Times that she was sexually harassed by Weinstein more than 20 years ago, and actress and director Angelina Jolie, who told the Times she “had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth and as a result chose never to work with him again.”
The 65-year-old movie producer has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.
On social media, some questioned the utility of the “Me Too” campaign, pointing out earlier efforts such as a #YesAllWomen crusade against sexual violence and harassment.
“I’m tired of thinking these things actually make a difference,” wrote one Facebook user. “Laws are what makes a difference.”
Many women wrote of getting fired or being forced to quit after shunning advances by bosses.
“Many jobs. From high school to grad school. Whether I was an intern or director. It’s everywhere. It’s disgusting,” one Twitter user wrote.
Men also posted their support.
Will Goodman, a journalist in New York wrote on his Facebook status, “I’m at a loss for words and literally crying as I see ‘Me, too’ stream on my NewsFeed.”
“I have always known that it is more widespread than acknowledged and to have these stark visual moments on social media is horrifying and heartbreaking,” Goodman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Showing how widespread the problem is, India’s capital New Delhi and Brazil’s Sao Paulo were paired as the world’s worst megacities for sexual violence against women in a poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday.
Reporting by Heba Kanso and Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org