On Sunday night, actress Alyssa Milano asked Twitter users to speak out against sexual assault and harassment with her, inviting them to simply tweet “Me too” if they’ve ever experienced either.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
In her post, the actress included a graphic image reading, “if all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote, ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
By the early morning hours of Monday, more than 200,000 tweets with the hashtag #MeToo had been posted, according to Twitter. The phenomenon spread to Facebook, where more people wrote their own “Me, too” posts.
Bustle attributes the creation of the “Me, too” social media trend to Amy Siskind and women’s advocacy organization The New Agenda, but several news outlets credit Milano with amplifying the message and tying it to ongoing discussions of sexual misconduct in Hollywood.
Sexual harassment and assault have been hot topics in the press and on social media since the New York Times published its investigative report on Oct. 5 highlighting several accounts from women who have been sexually harassed by Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein over the last few decades. The New Yorker followed with a detailed report including allegations of rape by several actresses.
Since then, many more stories of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct in the industry have emerged, including accounts from actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.
But responses to Milano’s Sunday night tweet show just how pervasive this problem is. Actresses like Debra Messing and Gabrielle Union tweeted “Me too,” but thousands of women joined them in tweeting and sharing their own stories of sexual assault and harassment.
#metoo A manager on my first big tour as a backup singer. When I went to a lawyer he told me to suck it up bc the guy could do a lot for me.— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) October 16, 2017
#MeToo— Najwa Zebian (@najwazebian) October 16, 2017
And I was blamed for it.
I was told not to talk about it.
I was told that it wasn't that bad.
I was told to get over it.
#MeToo and I don’t want pity or sympathy, I just want it never to happen to anyone ever again.— Leah Nagarpowers (@leahnp613) October 16, 2017
Reminder that if a woman didn't post #MeToo, it doesn't mean she wasn't sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don't owe you their story.— Alexis Benveniste (@apbenven) October 16, 2017
Milano co-starred in the TV series “Charmed” with actress Rose McGowan, who has been among the most vocal of Weinstein’s victims. Since the New York Times story broke, McGowan has shared heart-breaking details of being raped by Weinstein and blacklisted in Hollywood.
Now am I allowed to say rapist https://t.co/95Ze9BixCT— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 10, 2017
Many male Twitter users also responded to Milano’s post, showing that sexual harassment is not an issue that solely affects women.
Me too. I don’t know if means anything coming from a gay man but it’s happened. Multiple times.— Javier Muñoz (@JMunozActor) October 15, 2017
If a trans man who has been both by cis men due to being mistaken for a woman counts, then me too.— Le💀n Mac (@n0__f4c3) October 15, 2017
This is not the first time Milano has spoken up in defense of women’s rights. She has been a vocal proponent of women’s right to breastfeed their babies and, earlier this year, penned an essay about women’s rights and the Trump administration for Marie Claire.
While the current discussion about sexual harassment and assault was prompted by the accusations made against Harvey Weinstein, Milano emphasized that this problem is bigger than Weinstein and Hollywood. In an essay on her website Patriot not Partisan last week, she said, “Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace are not just about Harvey Weinstein. We must change things in general. We must do better for women everywhere.”
Fathers, teach your sons. So new generations of women don’t have to say #MeToo— Liam O'Brien (@VoiceOfOBrien) October 16, 2017
Global Citizen campaigns in support of gender equality and the elimination of discrimination. Pervasive sexual harassment and assault in the world’s biggest entertainment industry shows just how endemic the behavior is globally. You can take action here.