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CULTURE

The healing powers of a hashtag - #MeToo

The hashtag that revolutionized standing up for yourself.

#MeToo enacted a change in our society that we are still coming to terms with. The hashtag, which went viral several weeks ago after producer Harvey Weinstein was exposed as a long-time abuser, has since then helped more than 1.7 million women and men in 85 countries. It seems like everyone has always kept these dark experiences deep inside of themselves, never to be brought up again in fear of their abuser. Now is the time to stand up - because guess what? You're not alone.

According to a study by CNN, "In Italy, women rallied behind a version called #QuellaVoltaChe, which translates to "That time when," while French women decided to out their harassers by name under #BalanceTonPorc, which roughly translates to "snitch out your pig." The hashtag has been translated and adapted into nearly 30 different languages, each day evolving more and more as the power of a woman grows. But as CNN asks, "Can a hashtag, a meme or any viral moment -- no matter how widespread -- really turn into a lasting movement that that will create social change and reduce sexual abuse of women?"

The answer is yes - but only if men start to hold each other accountable. We hear millions of stories from women who know or know someone who has experienced sexual abuse, yet we do not hear much from most of men who insist they don't know any abusers at all. It's going to take social media, the media in general as well as the power we hold as a society in order to hold men accountable. "I am really tired of talking about women," said Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Association of Women. "We must focus on the men. We must be demanding that the men step forward and take responsibility, whether they think they are the good guy or not. They are not the good guy if they are not speaking out against this, if they are allowing the bullying to continue."

There have been over nine well-known powerful men called out in the last couple weeks alone - including Weinstein, former president George H.W. Bush, journalist Mark Halperin, and actor Kevin Spacey. These numbers are expected to inflate and expand as more women find the power of their voice. However, it's important to remember that it's ok if you feel like you cannot speak upon your experiences with abuse yet, for whatever reason. The #MeToo movement isn't one that's meant to force victims to out their abusers, but it is meant to help you find the power within yourself to do so - all while remembering that it was never, ever your fault in the first place.

#MeToo is one of the most solid representations we have of what social media can do. Women and men everywhere are feeling strong enough to call out their abusers, and most of all, stopping the hold their past experiences have over their lives. It's a reminder that although you have lived through this, you are not alone.

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