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Spokane residents join #MeToo social media campaign bringing awareness to sexual harassment

Oct. 16, 2017 Updated Mon., Oct. 16, 2017 at 11:13 p.m.

Brittny Hood is no stranger to catcalls, sexist comments or unwanted flirting.

“I get sexually harassed every time I go out to the bars,” the 27-year-old said.

So it came as no surprise when a man approached Hood and a group of other women at a bar in north Spokane on Saturday night.

Despite more than a few rejections, he continued to harass some of the women, rubbing their legs and touching their hair, she said.

“This guy just had no sense of boundaries,” she said.

On Sunday, Hood joined thousands of others who are identifying themselves as victims of sexual harassment and assault on social media. She posted a call to action on Facebook with the hashtag #MeToo to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The campaign began on Sunday with a post by actress Alyssa Milano and quickly trended on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with notable names like Lady Gaga, Monica Lewinsky and Rosario Dawson identifying themselves as victims. It follows the downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein after exposés in the New York Times and the New Yorker detailed allegations of sexual misconduct spanning decades.

Victims, including some in the Spokane area, shared stories of being assaulted and harassed by strangers, spouses, classmates, military comrades and trusted adults.

Jac Archer, the vice chair of the Spokane County Democratic Party, said the #MeToo hashtag had proved to empower many victims to tell their stories.

The social media trend may not last long, Archer said, “but there’s no way to measure the impact” or know “how many people will discover they’re not alone.”

While those who have participated in the campaign are predominantly women, Archer hopes that people of all ages, genders and ethnicities will use the hashtag to promote an end to “rape culture.”

Hood also stressed that men can be victims of sexual assault but “are way less likely to admit something like that than women are.”

Phil Tyler, a community activist and former NAACP president, said in a Facebook post that men have a “moral obligation” to listen and “offer support and begin to understand the magnitude of this societal problem.”

Hood said she brushed off Saturday’s incident but eventually left the bar because a friend was fed up with the man’s behavior.

Hood, like too many others, has been through worse: She said she was raped when she was 16 and again when she was 21.

At the very least, Hood said, the #MeToo hashtag can spread the word that catcalling, groping and other “normalized” behaviors toward strangers are not OK.

“If you make someone uncomfortable,” she said, “it doesn’t matter what you think is appropriate.”

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