How "Me Too" Is Affecting Young People's Dating Lives, According To A New Survey
Since October, the #MeToo campaign has been filling social media feeds ever since actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to address the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault. She asked people to reply "me too" to her tweet, which then opened the #MeToo floodgates of people sharing personal sexual harassment and assault experiences and opening up the very important conversations around it. However, Milano was actually following in Tarana Burke's footsteps, founder of the "Me Too" movement. For the last 10 years, Burke has been doing work regarding her "Me Too Movement," teaching young people about recognizing assault and encouraging survivors to speak up.
With the #MeToo movement still rampant, you may wonder how to date in a post- #MeToo era. Now, MTV conducted extensive research with people aged 18-to-25 in December around the efficacy of the #MeToo movement, and how it's effecting change. Of course, that's a great question that's probably been on a lot of people's minds. After hearing so many #MeToo stories, whether they are ones you read about or if you've had your own #MeToo experiences, dating again could be challenging. Perhaps you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) around #MeToo incidents that have happened to you and #MeToo is triggering for you, so you're a bit more cautious now when dating. Or perhaps your #MeToo experiences haven't been traumatizing for you, but you're afraid to get back out there after hearing so many women's heartbreaking stories.
"We were encouraged to see the real impact the #MeToo movement is having among young people," Noopur Agarwal, Vice President, Social Impact, MTV, tells Bustle regarding their research results. "They are re-examining past behavior, re-thinking the way they approach romantic relationships, and noticing others changing around them. These shifts really help underscore the power of real stories and open dialogue." Below, you'll find some of the key findings from MTV's survey, and you'll see what Agarwal means.
1. Change Starts With Conversation
The fact that 85 percent of young people stated that the recent sexual harassment accusations have "started an important conversation" will hopefully translate into better behavior and less sexual harassment and assault. One can hope...
2. The #MeToo Movement Has Created More Conversations Around Sexual Misconduct
MTV found that over half of their research participants, 55 percent, say, "The #MeToo movement has made me have more conversations about sexual harassment and assault." The more people talk about it, hopefully, the more people's mindsets will change, which will make their actions change, too. "More than half say they are having increased conversations about this topic as a result of the movement," Agarwal says. "These conversations are critical and will undoubtedly lead to a better, more nuanced understanding of important issues like consent."
3. Young Men, Too, Are Acknowledging Their Participation In #MeToo
You may have seen men take to social media, too, in terms of #MeToo, acknowledging that they've been on the other side of the movement. The fact that one in three can take responsibility and admit it is comforting, and of course, that number may be higher if you think about those who were afraid to admit it or who may not have understood the definition of sexual harassment. Hopefully we'll soon get to a place where that definition is clear and more people take accountability for their behavior.
4. However, Some People Are Confused About The Definition Of "Sexual Harassment"
MTV's research found that nearly seven in 10, 68 percent, of young people say, "I think the lines are being blurred between what is/is not sexual harassment." Of course, the more everyone defines what it is, the clearer the definition will be, and, hopefully, sexual harassment will be less prevalent. "The fact that 7 in 10 young people say they wish it was easier to understand what is/is not sexual harassment means that it's critical to continue to educate and empower on this topic," Agarwal says.
5. The #MeToo Movement Seems To Be Changing How People Date
Forty percent of young men saying that #MeToo has changed the way they interact in romantic relationships is a comforting percentage, and I'm sure that will increase as time goes on. "Forty percent of young men are saying the #MeToo movement has already changed the way they interact in potential romantic relationships," Agarwal says, "so clearly the movement is prompting young people to reevaluate how they've traditionally thought about dating and sex."
6. #MeToo Has Also Changed People's POV About Gender Discrimination
Forty-five percent of respondents say, "The sexual harassment accusations have totally changed my perception of gender discrimination." Of course, it's important for people to be aware of this issue, which continues to be a prevalent one.
7. #MeToo Is Influencing Men's Behavior
As you know, knowledge is power, so if people are noticing that their friends are changing their behavior for the better since #MeToo, more power to them. Hopefully, this will encourage more people in one's friend group to change their behavior, too.
Overall, interesting findings, right? #MeToo's founder liked them, too. Burke commented on them to MTV, saying, "I'm very excited that MTV did this research, and am pleased to hear that the work we're doing in the 'me too' movement is reaching so many young people. The origins of 'me too' are deeply connected to young people, and the movement will always create spaces and opportunities for them to be engaged and to lead."
All in all, hopefully the #MeToo movement and all the knowledge out there surrounding it will make dating and sex safer than ever before.