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An alternative prompt for an alternative hashtag

I wouldn’t be surprised if “metoo” becomes Oxford Dictionary’s 2017 Word of the Year.

A Wikipedia page dedicated to the hashtag states that after Alyssa Milano’s now-famous tweet in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the phrase was used more than 200,000 times by October 15, and tweeted more than 500,000 times by October 16. On Facebook, more than 4.7 million people used the hashtag in 12 million posts within the first 24 hours.

Apart from in the US, #metoo also trended in India, Pakistan, Spain and the United Kingdom. In Sweden, several women used it to highlight television presenter Martin Timell’s alleged sexual abuse, leading to the cancellation of all his shows on a local network.

My favored variant though has to be the French “BalanceTonPorc” (DenounceYourPig), which also encouraged users to share the names of their alleged abusers. It resonated with me for the simple reason that #metoo did not: it cast the spotlight on the harassers, NOT the victims.

Sure, it may sound a bit ‘witch hunt-ish.’ But given that sexual harassment was an insidious disease in society long before Alysa Milano’s tweet, it’s perhaps high time we changed tack in how we approach it and its perpetrators and enablers. Let’s admit it, Harvey Weinstein wouldn’t have gotten away with his lechery (and worse) for this long if someone in the know had had the moral fiber to report him sooner. And by that I mean men AND women who worked closely with him and may have “heard rumors” but dismissed them.

That Milano herself had to be alerted to the fact that the phrase ”me too” was used by her own countrywoman Tarana Burke a decade ago, shows that sexual harassment and abuse is an oft unreported or under-reported plague, hitting the headlines only when a perpetrator (and perhaps even the victim) sells news.

I’m not just talking about Hollywood and the US. It’s the same story in my native Malaysia. The standard scenario is that for a while everyone is up in arms, with the titillating details of a  crime making the headlines, but then the hue and cry dies down and lessons are rarely learnt. Until the next scandal!.

I sound cynical, you say? Yes, I am.

Until the media did some digging, did you know of Burke’s movement and that it was originally founded “to provide empathy and stomp out shame” amongst women of color who were sexually abused or attacked? Why was that not worthy of more widespread coverage?  Sure, the first “me too” was before social media’s powerful reach had taken hold, but wasn’t this a lesson and message worth spreading?

Don’t get me wrong. It is cathartic to be able to share what many of us often wrongly blame ourselves for, and to be given a platform and a safe space to do it. And it is only by speaking up that we can all be jolted (hopefully) into action. Just looking at the numbers of the #metoo campaign gives us the sickening sense of how widespread this social disease is.

From my point of view, while #metoo can help to treat the symptoms, we’ve yet to incise the cause.

Even the subsequent hashtags of owning up and apologizing ring hollow. Or perhaps I am simply too cynical.

European Parliament member Terry Reintke (C) holds a placard with the hashtag “MeToo” during a debate to discuss preventive measures against sexual harassment and abuse in the EU at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, October 25, 2017.

For I cannot help but ask myself as I read sordid story after story of Weinstein’s predatory hijinks in Hollywood, “Didn’t anybody know?” or “Why didn’t anybody who knewdo something?” (I’m looking at you Quentin Tarantino and Co). Tarantino’s then girlfriend – GIRLFRIEND – actress Mira Sorvino told him about her own horrible experience with the producer but he chose – CHOSE – not to do anything about it.

Now shift this scenario closer down to a family unit, a congregation, a school, a kindergarten, an office, a street, a cinema, a cemetery, a soccer field, a shopping mall. I’m pretty sure #metoo could apply in any of these social units and circumstances. Yet I’m willing to bet that not every single #metoo encounter was entirely free of witnesses.

Are you one of those who chose to walk on by, closed your eyes or said something such as: “Stop making such a fuss. We’ve all gone through it.”

“Boys/girls will be boys/girls”

“It’s all in your mind.”

“What were you wearing?”

“Did you do or say something to make him/her do that?”

Newsflash: If you are, you are akin to the sugar that disease feeds off. You’re an enabler and complicit.

So perhaps it’s time for a new prompt: “If you’re a wo/man who knows of/has witnessed a wo/man sexually harassing/abusing/attacking another wo/man and promptly apprehended/reported/stopped that person regardless of their relationship with you and despite knowing that you may in certain circumstances bear adverse consequences for your actions, but you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you’ve done right by another human being” then type #IHaveAndI’dDoItAgain.

It will be much more cathartic to sit back and see how many #metoos follow.


Author: Brenda Haas

Editor: Anne Thomas



‘How not to treat a woman,’ starring Harvey Weinstein, executive producer

“I’m a famous guy,” he said. But fame, wealth and influence couldn’t protect this sexual predator from his insatiable appetite for helpless young starlets forever. He dangled the promises of a glamorous and successful career to lure and force himself on young, starry-eyed wannabe celebs. Hollywood, according to actress Mayiam Bialik, “rewards physical beauty and sex appeal above all else and profits from the mistreatment of women.”

Pakistani women join the #MeToo Campaign

Millions of women across the world have been sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse in an online campaign using the hashtag #MeToo on Twitter and with rolling posts on Facebook. The hashtag has been trending in Pakistan too.

#MeToo – Best Tweets

According to Huffington Post, more than 25.000 people have responded to Alyssa Milano’s call for sexual abuse victims to come forward. Here are some of the most retweeted tweets.



03.11.2017 | 16:18