I have been guilty of assaulting women and here’s #HowIWillChange

‘Guys, it’s our turn. After endless #MeToo stories of women being abused, assaulted and harassed, today we say #HowIWillChange’

The past fortnight has seen several online movements, with the women coming forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault creating a platform and opening a conversation for us all.

You will definitely have seen the #MeToo campaign spreading across the internet and filling your social media feeds, with women standing in solidarity with Weinstein’s accusers, sharing their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment.

More than 12 million women have taken to social media to talk about assault and harassment and it looks like the movement is the beginning of a seismic shift in the way we walk about and treat the victims of sexual harassment and assault.

A new movement went viral this week in response to the Me Too hashtag with men from across the world acknowledging their mistakes in perpetuating the issue, sharing their experiences as the perpetrator alongside the hashtag, #ItWasMe.

‘There are too many times to count where I have made my hunger more important than her feelings or boundaries,’ explained Facebook user Keith Paolino.

‘I’ve either contributed to or been witness to hundreds of conversations of cavalier, mysogynistic, generally shitty “locker room talk”’, admitted Julian Mocine-Mcqueen with the hashtag #ItWasMe. ‘I’ve stayed silent when I knew friends were being unacceptable in their pursuit of, or response to a woman.’

While sharing his own account of harassing a girl, he called for other men to step up and accept their mistakes. ‘Unfortunately, I’m responsible for at least one, “me too.” Are you?’ he concluded, alongside the hashtag #ItWasMe.

‘#Itwasme and I was a piece of shit,’ tweeted Andrew Ellis. ‘I can’t take it back, and no apology is enough. I can only work to be a better human.’

‘I own my misogynistic past. I #BelieveWomen because I have been THAT guy,’ agreed Michael John Simpson. ‘I want a world in which women have safe passage.’

Some have criticised the #MeToo and #ItWasMe movements for being too passive. To them, we introduce #HowIWillChange, the new viral hashtag that is putting change into action, with people across the world making public pledges of what they will never do again after learning the severity of the issue.

‘Guys, it’s our turn,’ posted Twitter user Benjamin Law. ‘After yesterday’s endless #MeToo stories of women being abused, assaulted and harassed, today we say #HowIWillChange.’

And how will he change? ‘Acknowledge that if all women I know have been sexually harassed, abused or assaulted, then I know perpetrators. Or am one,’ Law tweeted.

#HowIWillChange has been going viral, uniting men and women and attracting high profile figures too, with actor Mark Ruffalo being one of the first to champion the movement and acknowledge his role.

‘I will never Cat call a woman again,’ the 49-year-old actor tweeted. ‘Growing up we were taught from watching movies that a cat call was a compliment. I would do it to friends and girlfriends. Sunrise [his wife] clued me in that it was totally inappropriate. Not cool. Not a compliment. Gross. #HowIWillChange.’

While some have been hesitant to come forward, social media users are keen to express that taking part is a positive not a negative. ‘#HowIWillChange is not saying you’re a rapist by default if you’re a man,’ explained Twitter user @n8r_boi. ‘You hear friends making sexist remarks? Call them out. Random guys cat calling women? Call them out. People talking about scoring with drunk girls? Call them out. By doing nothing you are justifying their views.’

Let’s keep this conversation going and make change together. We can’t let it be limited to a social media fad.

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