Case study ME TOO

The Me Too movement, with variations of related local or international names, is a social movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment where people publicize allegations of sex crimes. The phrase "Me Too" was initially used in this context on social media in 2006, on Myspace, by sexual assault survivor and activist Tarana Burke.

As stories of abuse and harassment accumulated in the media, men began to experience consequences for their treatment of women. Some lost jobs, others were demoted, many faced public embarrassment. The careers of men such as Hollywood producer and alleged rapist Harvey Weinstein, masturbating comedian Louis CK, and predatory actor Kevin Spacey were declared dead. Others, like the groping chef Mario Batali, took a temporary “step back” from their public lives. A reckoning seemed to be underway, and many women felt that it was long overdue.

In the media and in private life, conversations about consent, hostile environments and power began, and there was a growing acknowledgment that a man’s unwanted sexual overtures were a symptom of broader social and political forces. Soon, these discussions were interrupted by hand-wringing and anger from male commentators – everyone from conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan to Donald Trump – who claimed the movement had gone too far before it really began. But unexpected divides emerged between feminists as well.

In 2017, the phrase was reintroduced by actress Alyssa Milano as a way to encourage women and men to share their stories as part of an anti-sexual harassment movement. The results of the revived movement have since been astounding, with people sharing their stories accompanied by the hashtag #MeToo across many different social media platforms.

A YouGov poll carried out in March 2021 for UN Women UK found that seven out of 10 women surveyed had experienced some form of sexual harassment in public; for younger women the proportion was nearly nine out of 10. A report by a group of British MPs and peers set up to support UN Women UK’s work concludes that “sexual harassment in public places continues to be highly prevalent and concerning”.

Even more concerning is the number of sexual assault cases in schools. A BBC investigation revealed that at least 13,000 sex offences involving under-18s were reported to police in England and Wales every year between 2018 and 2020, and the education inspectorate Ofsted says sexual harassment has become “normalised” among school-age children.

Sexual assault statistics

According to RAINN, millions of Americans have been affected by sexual violence. In particular:

  • The majority of sexual assault victims are younger people, with 54% of victims falling between 18 and 34 years of age.

  • Women and young girls are the most frequent victims of sexual violence; 82% of all juvenile victims of sexual assault are female, while 90% of adult rape victims are female.

  • Transgender people (and especially students) suffer higher rates of sexual violence than their cisgender peers.

  • Although men are less likely to suffer from sexual violence, millions of men have still been victims of sexual assault. As of 1998, 2.78 million American men were victims of rape or attempted rape.

  • According to the National Women’s Law Center, black women experience sexual harassment in the workplace at nearly three times the rate of white women.

Populations at higher risk of sexual violence

While anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, certain populations are statistically more likely to be attacked.


Women and girls are overwhelmingly the targets of sexual violence. This includes sexual harassment, unwanted sexual touching, and rape.

College students

Not all sexual harassment occurs in the workplace. It’s also possible for a professor or someone else in a position of power over students to abuse that power and engage in sexual harassment.

Students may also be less aware of the resources available to them for pursuing justice following sexual harassment at the hands of a professor or mentor, since many are living on their own for the first time.

However, every student has the right to seek justice following an incident of sexual violence, and such incidents can be reported to the school’s HR department, campus police, or other law enforcement, depending on the specifics of the case.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to suffer from sexual harassment compared to their straight and cisgender peers. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has detailed the rates at which LGBTQ+ people suffer from sexual violence:

  • 44% of gay women and 61% of bisexual women have suffered sexual violence or stalking by an intimate partner. 35% of heterosexual women have experienced the same.

  • 46% of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17% of heterosexual women.

  • Among the LGBTQ+ community, transgender people are especially at risk of suffering from sexual violence. 47% of transgender people report being sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

  • Being an LGBTQ+ person of color increases the risk factor for sexual violence. For example, 65% of transgender Native Americans have been victims of sexual assault.

The HRC points out that members of the LGBTQ+ community are also less likely to seek support or notify law enforcement following an instance of sexual violence, fearing discrimination from police, hospitals, or rape crisis centers.

Women of color

Women of color suffer from sexual violence at higher rates than their white counterparts. As noted above, black women suffer from workplace sexual harassment at three times the rate of white women. Meanwhile, according to RAINN, Native Americans are twice as likely to experience sexual assault compared to all other races.