By Caroline Mathews, Trending Writer
Something unspoken, something private, something to be ashamed of recognizing—for a long time, most women defined their personal sexual harassment and assault in silence. Tables are turning, as even just a decade ago, many could not even conceive of the magnitude of women who had experienced sexual coercion or intimidation. On October 15, 2017, Actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who had been sexually assaulted or harassed to tweet the words #MeToo. Within just 24 hours, a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times. With a feed dominated by women discussing their experiences of harassment and assault, the alleged abuses of power of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, and many political leaders were given attention. As horrifying as the allegations against those in power have been, more inexcusable is the sense of how not uncommon this behavior is in industries across the world: from the media to music to modeling to academia to politics, women have encountered their own “Weinsteins” and have felt that nothing could be done or that nobody cared. However, just the uncovering of the vastness of the problem is revolutionary in its own right.
The movement did not stop at social media—more than 100,000 protesters showed up in New York to celebrate the anniversary of the Women’s March protests in response to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Unlike last year, however, this year’s gathering was much more optimistic. Though the march was just as energetic as it was a year ago with their opposition to Trump, for many of the protestors it was about joining the cultural upheaval around the enormity of issues of sexual abuse.
According to data from both Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut, the 2018 Women’s Marches involved 1.6 million and 2.5 million people in the events nationally—while this is not as big as the original turnout for the original Women’s March demonstration (with at least 4.2 million protestors), which was tied directly to the much bigger event of Trump’s inauguration.
However, there is a much broader trend taking the United States: there have been more than 8,700 protests across the nation since President Trump’s inauguration, with about 74 percent were against the Trump administration and their policies. Chenoweth and Pressman estimate 5.9 to 9 million—1.8 to 2.8 percent of the U.S. population—attend these demonstrations speaking out against the President, including the airport protests against the travel ban, the Day Without an Immigrant, the Day Without Women, the March for Science, the March for Truth, LGBTQ Pride Marches, rallies in favor of Obamacare, and demonstrations against the proposed Republican tax plan.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 30th print edition.
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