#metoo edges toward becoming a forgotten trend

By Saketh Vasamsetti, Columnist

It’s been about a week since actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a call-to-action for people to build awareness around the growing problem of sexual assault in our society through the use of #MeToo, which has become an outlet for people to share their experiences with sexual assault.

Milano’s tweet has received over 68,000 comments, not including the movement’s large presence on several other social media platforms.

Many notable female celebrities stepped out to speak on the topic, such as Lady Gaga, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon, as well as several other male actors like Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek.

The movement took the internet by storm, highlighting just how toxic our environment has become with the sheer amount of abuse present.

Now, a week later, we must ask ourselves an important question: What is going to make #MeToo stand out among all of the other viral movements we’ve seen?

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There have been countless times internet trends have begun as a call for action, but unsuccessfully impacted anything beyond social media. In most recent times, #notmypresident started as a form of protest following President Donald Trump’s election, but led to very little change.

Of all of the internet movements in the past few years, one of the more helpful trends has been the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. A 2014 Time magazine article reported that the challenge had successfully raised $15.6 million for the ALS association.

The #MeToo movement has the potential to make the same impact the ALS Ice Bucket challenge had, but may likely become just another trend unless there is a tangible success that follows it.

The movement seeks to raise awareness about sexual assault, and with overwhelming response, it’s become more clear than ever that sexual violence is a huge problem in society, particularly in Hollywood. But awareness is no longer impactful in a society where everyone is essentially “aware” of everything.

Survivors have spoken out about their own experiences with sexual assault before, but it wasn’t until it was marketed in the form of an internet trend that it was met with the response it has now. The people who have experienced the trauma deserve more. For that reason, the #MeToo trend needs to lead to considerable action by those in power at various industries.

Following the Harvey Weinstein allegations, it has become apparent that there are large cases of sexual assault present in Hollywood. Many celebrities have expressed that they had no other choice in those situations but to keep to themselves.

In the case of Terry Crews, he explains in a series of tweets that he walked away from the situation because the news headline that would follow him taking action on the person who sexually assaulted him would only display Crews in a negative light.

For a lot of these celebrities, their choice was to either save their career or take a stand. More times than not they’ve had to walk away. This is a probable case for many people who’ve experienced sexual assault in a professional setting.

But it seems that Hollywood does little to protect those in the industry. Many who have actually been called out and investigated for sexual assault allegations have been met with little to no punishment.  

Legendary filmmaker Woody Allen was suspected of sexual abusing his adopted daughter. Although Allen went through various lawsuits and was forced to pay over $1 million in legal fees, his case never went much further than that. One would think that such a case would end Allen’s career, but he went on to be nominated for and won several Academy Awards.

A similar scenario took place with actor and filmmaker Casey Affleck. On the set of his self-directed documentary, “I’m Still Here,” producer Amanda White reported she had to deal with various occasions where Affleck harassed her both sexually and verbally. Affleck went on to win an Academy Award for best actor that same year, despite public outrage

Various cases describe people involved in Hollywood being accused of assault or abuse but remaining in the industry since there’s little evidence to prove the accusations. It’s time that these people of “power” be shown that there are repercussions to taking advantage of others. Allen and Affleck shouldn’t be eligible for notable awards and other filmmakers shouldn’t encourage it either.

Sexual assault is real and it is no longer necessary to build awareness around it. The #MeToo movement has done wonders in breaking down barriers and bringing people together. But before it becomes just another trend, there needs to be a next-step scenario offered to all those impacted to provide closure.

Hopefully in the near future, these type of campaigns will no longer be necessary to take a stand.

Saketh is a sophomore in DGS.

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