The #MeToo movement began over 10 years ago to give women space to speak about sexual assault without the fear of unfair consequences. The movement became popular in October last year when Alyssa Milano posted a tweet urging women to speak out about their experiences with sexual assault using the “Me Too” to reply her tweets. By the end of that day, women from various parts of the world had created different forms of the movement in their own languages.
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
The movement had steadily grown into a global phenomenon since. Women from different corners of the world are using this hashtag to bring attention to harassment they have encountered in their daily lives. In Nigeria for instance, many women have taken to the internet to recount their ordeals with sexual harassment. In the past, the spaces were penetrated by people challenging the authenticity of these claims by asking questions victims should not be concerned with. But these voices have over and again been overpowered by the network of support created by the global community.
An even younger generation of Nigerian women (15-23) are currently speaking up and openly naming their rapists, sex attackers and sex predators most of whom are in same age bracket and school mates.
This is great.
In a lawless patronage system, shame is a useful tool.
— Funmi Iyanda (@Funmilola) July 3, 2018
Funmi Iyanda’s tweet explains how shame has become the counter tool in a world often lackadaisical about justice against sexual offenders. Women are no longer content just recounting their experiences but are now willing to venture further by calling out those who have sexually assaulted and raped them.
Ebuka Nwibe. You have been called out. You are messed up and you clearly have rapist tendencies. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/IPLOqSqRrG
— S E S I (@Oluwasesi_) July 3, 2018
This tweet is only one of many. Too many women (and men) in their teens and early 20s recounted stories similar to this one in the past few hours. Though #MeToo’s success has created momentum and space for survivals of sexual assault to use the callout culture as a defence mechanism, like Funmi Iyanda’s tweet points out, there seems to be a generational halt. Her tweet reflects the findings of a survey conducted by Vox earlier this year, which found that older women are less likely to speak in their groups about sexual assault than those in their 20s. One of their findings was that women 35 and above are more likely to stay silent about sexual assault they have experienced than younger ones because, in their time, sexual assault was regarded as an occupational hazard, something to simply had to put up with.
But to go beyond the walls of the internet for sustainable change, we need to get older women involved. Despite the impact of women recounting their experiences online, the radical change that we need requires that communities involving both younger and older generations need to be formed outside social media.
Vox’s survey found that older women in the United States are more optimistic than younger women about the progress of the #MeToo movement. Perhaps because they have been within the system long enough to see the trend changes. Older Nigerian women like Funmi Iyanda have also expressed optimism, but beyond that, the movement requires the provision of practical solutions that will help bridge the gender divide gap that has fueled toxic masculinity.
Featured Image Credits: Instagram/standtoendrape
“Tomiwa is figuring it out…” Tweet at her @fauxbella