Been sexually harassed? Philly women say #MeToo

#MeToo has become a wake-up call, or a (re)statement of the obvious — depending on whom you talk to.

The social-media movement, started Sunday by actress Alyssa Milano in response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment scandal, has Philadelphia-area women, and some men, posting about their experiences of harassment and assault with the hashtag #metoo.

As of Monday morning, half a million people had shared stories via Twitter, giving root to a campaign that is drawing support from other women, and motivating men to assess their role — complicit or otherwise.

But the stories shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, said Laura Blanchard, 69, of Philadelphia.

“Very little of this is actually about sex — it’s about power,” said Blanchard, who tweeted her experience of waking on the sofa to an intruder covering her mouth and lying on top of her in the early ’70s. She successfully fought him off, screaming and kicking.

Blanchard has a nickname for men who harass or assault women: “Creepazoid.”

Many people said they weren’t surprised how the movement had caught on, given how many people they know who have experienced some sort of harassment in their lives. (A 2015 survey found that one in three women have been harassed in the workplace.) It’s also not the first hashtag of its kind. In 2014, the hashtag #YesAllWomen started to raise awareness of misogyny and violence against women.

#ShePersisted started trending after  the Senate voted to stop Sen. Elizabeth Warren from speaking in objection to the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and #NastyWoman became a rallying call after presidential candidate Donald Trump referred to Hillary Clinton that way during the campaign.

Harassment and assault stories ranged from politics to restaurants to disparaging ex-boyfriends.

There’s also been a call for flipping the movement on its head — why put the onus on the victims to shine a light on the problem? Some suggested a more powerful statement could come from people who failed to act: #istoodby.

 

Though the hashtag is bringing thousands of stories out into the open, some said they wouldn’t share publicly what they’d been through but posted in solidarity all the same.