Amid the ongoing success of the #MeToo awareness campaign, some women are criticizing the viral hashtag for placing the burden of talking about sexual misconduct on its victims, rather than its perpetrators.
“I won’t say ‘Me Too,’” feminist writer and activist Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki wrote. “I know, deep down, it won’t do anything. Men who need a certain threshold of survivors coming forward to ‘get it’ will never get it. Because the focus on victims and survivors — instead of their assailants and enablers — is something we need to change.”
Wanjuki wasn’t alone in her frustration: Vox feminist writer Liz Plank called for a shift in the conversation that would allow for men to join the discussion by taking accountability for their actions.
“#MeToo I was sexually harassed, groped, physically and verbally attacked,” Plank posted on Facebook. “But what about him though? Who decided it was women’s job to fix men? Why is the burden always on women?”
At the end of her post, Plank recommended a new hashtag: #HimThough.
#HimThough and #IDidThat, the latter a hashtag that seeks to cover almost the exact same ground as the former, ask that men first self-reflect and determine if they have ever behaved in an untoward fashion towards women, and then to publicly confess their findings on social media. Proponents believe those demands are crucial in having the most constructive conversation we can have about our society’s rape culture.
And while neither hashtag has the sheer volume of participants as #MeToo, there are early signs that the campaigns’ nascent attempts to invite men — and others who may have perpetrated sexual misconduct — into the conversation are starting to work.
Comedian and writer Devang Pathak shared a story where he said he tried to take advantage of a power dynamic when a woman friend of his was vulnerable.
“Whether fictional or real, I felt a power which I have let go of since,” Pathak concluded. “I don’t absolve myself of my actions and thoughts at all... It’s disgusting and I will never let those impulses take hold of me again.”
“I can’t undo the mistakes I have made or the times I’ve been a silent witness,” another participant said. “But I have been supremely fortunate that the people I’ve mistreated and the allies around them took the risk of confronting me. You didn’t have to, but I am grateful that you did.”
“I’m certain that at more than one point in my life I’ve been the reason someone, somewhere is silently or openly posting ‘me too,’” said another. “I’m sure
#IDidThat to somebody.”
The #MeToo campaign surged on social media at least partially in response to the New York Times exposé on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct. Since that story broke, the disgraced producer has been accused of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Though the hashtag’s viral spread was likely spurred by a tweet from Alyssa Milano that amplified it, many on Twitter attribute its creation to feminist activist Tarana Burke almost a decade ago.