It may be happening thousands of miles away, but a campaign against sexual assault and harassment is making itself felt all over the world with the help of social media. It is part of the ripple effect of a scandal that has gripped Hollywood in the last two weeks.
Since the New York Times broke the story how Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein reportedly preyed on women, at least 25 more victims, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, among others, have made their stories about Weinstein public, from unwanted advances to rape, and some go back decades.
It was former Charmed Actress and mom Alyssa Milano, who began the campaign to show the world that this dysfunctional behavior towards women has got to stop now. "If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet," she posted on Twitter. It was then that the hashtag, #MeToo, started trending on social media.
NBCreports that in less than 24 hours, there were more than 500,000 tweets and more than 12 million Facebook posts, comments, and reactions with Me Too hashtag. Facebook states that 4.7 million people around the world have engaged in the 'Me Too' conversations to show their support to the victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Viola Davis, Anna Paquin, Lady Gaga, Gabrielle Union, Debra Messing and others have replied and retweeted the hashtag across all platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to support women who have endured and suffered in the hands of sexually abusive men. It was also a show of support for Hollywood actresses, such as Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and more, who had spoken up before but were ignored or shamed into silence.
Pinays have been making their voices heard through social media as well. Rayzy Nufable, now a mom to a 10-year-old son and an 11-month-old daughter, told SmartParenting.com.ph that she's happy the hashtag is helping spread awareness. She admitted that she fears for her daughter and prays that her son would never disrespect women.
Rayzy, a single mom who once had a former partner who hit her, said she began teaching her son that "boys should protect girls" since he was 4 years old. The mom of two is thankful her son has a father who serves as a good role model.
Mom to two girls, Audrey Bradd-Oviedo, decided to post about her experience to support a friend who opened up about her abuse. "May our daughters never have to deal with this, ever," she wrote in the comments of her post.
"It makes me angry that it happened right outside our school; it makes me even more angry that we, as females, do not usually feel empowered enough to say something about it when it happens to us. This is something that I hope to change with the younger generation," Audrey added.
Topaz Horizon blogger and mom to three boys ages 7, 5, and 3, Frances Amper Sales, reminded everyone that the hashtag #MeToo also applies to many women who are still afraid to speak up for reasons of their own. It doesn't mean their stories are not valid.
"I dream of a world where no woman need not be afraid of a man. And since I'm raising three men, I take this very seriously," she told SmartParenting.com.ph. "As early as they could talk, [I've shown them] boundaries, consent, awareness of the body, autonomy of their bodies," she added.
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Kaye Sy-Catral, mom to a teenage girl and a tween boy, was a fresh graduate working in a customer service of a big retail store. Her supervisor invited her to lunch and "blatantly" asked if Kaye "would be willing to be in a relationship with a married man." She couldn't fathom it because "I never pictured him to be the type who'd disrespect women."
In another post, she argued that the #MeToo hashtag should also apply to "women in abusive marriages." Kaye told Smart Parenting, "I am intentional in teaching [my son] to respect women. I pray for him and am specific in praying that he be a man after God's own heart." Kaye has also made it a point to explain to her kids that her estranged husband's abusive ways are not the norm.
For freelance writer and mom to four boys, Maan D'Asis Pamaran, it was important for her to show that she was not playing the victim anymore. She shared a lot of instances that illustrate how she would react to men's inappropriate behavior; she wasn't afraid to call out these illicit behaviors.
"When I told [my eldest] about myself being harassed not just once but twice in one day, ang sabi niya, it's hard to be a woman in the Philippines," Maan shared with Smart Parenting. "Respect begins at home. I teach [my boys] to see women as equals who should be given respect," she added.
If you search the hashtag, fathers also posted about it to show their support for women and condemn men's predatory behavior. They show that not all men are the same, and that's a ray of hope.