In an era where a mere hashtag can set off a global tidal wave, it seems that everyone has something to say. Most recently, we’ve seen proof of that sentiment with the viral “Me Too” movement, which provides a virtual platform for victims of sexual assault to come forward and share their stories.
Originating on Twitter more than a decade ago by Harlem activist Tarana Burke in an effort to bring visibility to women of color affected by sexual assault and abuse, those two words have become a modern-day battle cry for women across cultures, languages, and races to speak their truth.
This newfound (or newly embraced) empowerment is creating a stir on both sides of the political fence and bringing to light abuses of power formally swept-under-the-rug. As beloved news anchors fall out right and left, the focus has now turned once again to Trump, whose sexual exploits might be old news, but are far from forgotten.
Yet, thus far, even though Democratic lawmakers have condemned the allegations against Trump, for the most part, they’ve been hesitant to outright demand that the President resign. Still, the conversation exists and this week alone, a few dissident voices have emerged from the clamor.
Case in point? New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently denounced Trump on Twitter, joining forces with her caucus mates Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker. Her statement read, in part, that Congress should “investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations” made against Trump.
Ever the timely tweeter, Trump quickly retaliated, calling Gillibrand a “lightweight” who would come to his office “begging” for campaign contributions. He could have (and should have) stopped there, but instead, he went on to claim that she “would do anything” for those contributions.
If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, then the collective outcry was hotter than the California wildfires. Political colleagues rushed to her defense and questioned Trump’s choice of language, which was very obviously intentional, and Gillibrand herself shot back with a statement of “You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines.”
On Monday, three of the more than 12 women who previously made claims about Trump’s misconduct before he took office again came forward on the TODAY show to re-state their accounts. At a time when men in myriad industry verticals are being held responsible for their misconduct, they reasoned, why was the most powerful man in the world seemingly immune to the repercussions of his?
While it remains to be seen what impact, if any, this specific Twitter war will bring about, one thing is for certain. We’re seeing, perhaps more clearly than ever before, that words and actions have consequences. If every tiny thing we do or don’t do will eventually come back to haunt us (We’re looking at you, Garrison Keillor, and that hand you placed on a woman’s bare back!), then everything we say will likewise be cemented in history, for better or for worse. It’s more important now than ever before to turn the dialogue toward things that bring betterment and peace, though it’s much easier to drag names through the mud.
As Matt Lauer holes up at his home in the Hamptons, we can’t help but wonder what it’s like at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If there’s a similar secret shame lurking within, we don’t want to be on Twitter when the news hits. Or, do we?