On October 5, 2017, the New York Times released a three-decade long investigation about Oscar-winning movie producer Harvey Weinstein. The investigation revealed that he was using his position of power to try and extort female actresses for sex in exchange for roles in his movies. If a woman refused, he would then threaten to destroy their careers.
Over the years many of his victims grew into very big stars, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cara Delevigne, and countless others. He has since lost his position in his company and been heralded as the final straw that broke the camel’s back that was holding decades of gender based sexual discrimination, cover-ups, and white men abusing positions of power to sexually assault women and other men.
Sexual abuse and harassment takes a toll on an individual’s physical and mental health. Take for example, a typical woman who works in the entertainment industry. The allegations against Weinstein were a shock to people who did not know him. Women who have dealt with his behavior for decades were not surprised. This type of behavior is common for not only women in Hollywood, but all spheres of work.
When a woman is being sexually harassed at her place of employment, she may be doing detrimental damage to her physical and mental health. Before the #MeToo Movement, many women were afraid to come forward against their bosses in fear of repercussions. This in turn can lead to many women using harmful drugs and substances to deal with the trauma of their daily lives.
Women are much more likely than men to be the victims of abuse, harassment, and assault. Harmful drugs and other substances are one of the main ways that people self-medicate when they are having to deal with symptoms of trauma. Gender and addiction play in together in many ways, and that is one thing that the #MeToo movement has failed to bring attention to.
Rates of alcoholism
When a woman is not comfortable in her place of work, she may use alcohol as a way to find relief in her life. Using alcohol as a form of medication day after day can quickly lead to alcoholism. A person can actually die from alcohol withdrawal if they become addicted and try to quit, so this—is in an indirect way—contributing to the mortality rate of women.
Women are also bullied online when they decide to speak up about their harassment. Studies have found that often online people will make jokes about victims of sexual assault coming forward during the #MeToo movement in the many ways women’s statements are seen as false in the eyes of the accuser’s supporters. Within another study, trolling and online abuse was found to be a common experience, finding 72% of survey respondents experiencing negativity, hostility or trolling in response to their feminist opinions and contests to rape culture online.
Several hashtags were created by those who oppose the #MeToo Movement including #HimToo, #NotAllMen, #WitchHunt, #StopPlayingtheRaceCard, #StopPlayingtheVictimCard, #OnlyUglyWomen. This type of language enforces the idea that women are out looking for men to accuse of sexual assault. The language used in this coverage is insulting to the courage it took so many women to come forward after years of hiding their abuse. It discounts their experiences, and generalizes the movement as anti- male and ignorant.
Unfortunately even though the movement is changing the mindsets of many, there are a lot of people who will never believe survivors, and many celebrities that will face no consequences for their actions. The study has found that when people stand up against celebrities, much of society will see it as a ‘femi-NAZI’ movement, or a witch hunt. The online aggression seen in the #MeToo movement can discount the stories and experiences of survivors.
Men who are being accused are seeing many forms of consequences. Men are being treated differently because much of society still values the word of a man over a woman. Men are much less likely to use drugs or alcohol to suppress feelings that stem from bullying, because they are less likely to be bashed. Men such as R. Kelly, Louie C.K, and Brett Kavanagh are still in power despite numerous accusations.
Being the victim of an attempted or completed rape can cause a woman to develop many different anxiety disorders. When women are not believed or teased for coming forward about their abuse, it can lead to even more mental health issues. Being attacked and painted as a liar can cause women to seek out unhealthy and dangerous forms of care such as drugs or alcohol.
Gender and addiction
Although everyone is at risk for being a victim of addiction, women face a much higher risk of being assaulted or harassed. People who are victims of assault or harassment are much more likely to become addicts. While there is no direct correlation that has been made between those who have come forward in the #MeToo movement and been victims of online abuse with addiction, a conclusion can be made that victim blaming and shaming is a woman’s issue, and it can also indirectly lead to mental health and substance abuse issues.
Despite the shortfalls of the #MeToo movement, it can be concluded that it is a successful one. Victims and survivors are finding that by speaking out and finding their voice, they are able to take a vulnerable situation and turn it into something empowering. Many women who have participated in the movement have found solidarity and support through online channels and despite is being from strangers, was still empowering and felt like a form of justice in cases where the time for justice had run out. Social media has created a new platform for girls and women to express their experiences in ways that have usually been reserved for private spheres of life, and helped to lessen the burden on women who have experienced trauma.