In the last week, thousands of people have shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault using the hashtag #MeToo.
In the wake of the many allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein the campaign has gained momentum, and attracted international attention after actress Alyssa Milano shared it on Twitter – though it was first coined by black activist Tarana Burke as a rallying cry for survivors of sexual violence 10 years ago.
Both men and women have shared stories under #MeToo, and it’s important not to erase male survivors of sexual abuse. However, women are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment and violence, particularly in the workplace and public spaces – and as a result, the vast majority of those contributing to the hashtag have been women.
Now men are now using a new social media campaign to discuss how they can be better allies to women. The hashtag #HowIWillChange was suggested by Australian writer Benjamin Law, who asked his male followers to share how they intended to alter their behaviour in the light of #MeToo and the revelations about Weinstein.
“Guys, it’s our turn,” Law wrote. “After yesterday’s endless #MeToo stories of women being abused, assaulted and harassed, today we say #HowIWillChange.”
He then shared his own commitments, including donating to women’s charities, challenging his peers on sexism and accepting that he doesn’t have to be a perpetrator to be complicit in maintaining a culture of harassment.
Other Twitter users chimed in to share their own pledges as to how to tackle sexual harassment and assault.
Predictably, not all the responses to #HowIWillChange were positive.
There were men, inevitably, who proclaimed that they shouldn’t have to take responsibility for the harmful actions of other members of their gender, as well as the odd woman announcing that the hashtag was “for men without testicles” (seriously).
However, the most widely circulated posts were overwhelmingly thoughtful and reassuringly self-critical, suggesting that the #MeToo campaign has been effective – at least in some instances – in encouraging people to take the problem of sexual harassment seriously.
Actress America Ferrera used the #MeToo campaign to disclose her own experience of childhood sexual abuse, while Game of Thrones star Lena Headey wrote #MeToo alongside her account of being harassed by Weinstein.
Weinstein has now been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by almost 30 women, including multiple allegations of harassment and several of rape.
He has denied the allegations of “non-consensual sex”, but appeared to accept some of the charges of harassment, saying in a statement: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it.”
For more on the Harvey Weinstein case, click here.
Main image: twitter.com/mrbenjaminlaw