It was just a hashtag at first: that often-ridiculed, inconsequential social media frippery that disappears as fast as the Technorati moves onto its next storm in a teacup.
When it comes to sexuality, it seems that women, like children, are expected to be seen, not heard. However, as the recent #MeToo campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter shows, women have plenty to say – and need to be heard.
But this wasn’t just another hashtag.
This was #MeToo.
Such was the power of this hashtag movement that the Financial Times newspaper chose it as their Year in a Word. Time Magazine celebrated not just one Person of the Year, but many People of the Year by putting the #MeToo movement on their year-end cover.
She isn’t always a glamorous movie star or an ambitious career woman. She’s the girl next door. She’s your mother, your sister, and your daughter: it took a hashtag to let her speak up without fearing the consequences.
They were the Silence Breakers, hailed for their courage in pushing forward social change to combat the previously deafening silence surrounding sexual abuse and its victims.
As Harvey Weinstein fell amidst a seedy chronicle of decades-long allegations of sexual assault and abuse, millions of normal women went to social media to say #MeToo.
Many more were shocked and horrified to see the truth: that close friends, even relatives had suffered – yet never shared their pain.
It was a damning indictment of our society– but also a flowering of hope for a new, better future.
Some women described their trauma, while others simply let the power of the news media and the hashtag speak for them. The message, however, was crystal clear: that sexual abuse and assault of women was endemic, despite the silence that surrounds it.
One of those women is Betsy Blankenbaker, author of Beyond O, a book which opens with a recollection of her own childhood and teenage abuse, which started at the age of six at the hands of her teenage neighbor. As an adult, she experienced date-rape and like so many women, she stayed quiet.
Her first book, Autobiography of an Orgasm, details her sexual awakening at the age of fifty, and the long journey from a being woman unable to enjoy sex as her body shut down from trauma.
“I began to receive story after story from readers who thanked me for putting words into their own disconnection from their sensual energy. I was relieved to tell the truth, and liberated,” says Blankenbaker.
“Just as I was finishing Beyond O, which talks about the consequences we as women face for speaking up, #MeToo started to flood the media. It was liberating for all of us. We can’t change the past – but we can change the future.”
As the world goes toward 2018, it seems that the dark silence and shame enveloping women who suffer sexual abuse and assault may finally be lifting. It starts with women speaking up – and ends with putting the consequence back firmly where it belongs.
Beyond O, available on Amazon, is Betsy Blankenbaker’s follow-up to her popular first book, Autobiography of an Orgasm, which was acclaimed by the British Sunday Times, as the “anti-Fifty Shades of Grey.”