BRITISH COLUMBIA

#MeToo Rally Forces Vancouver To Take Hashtag Into Real World

"There’s so many ‘Me Toos’ out there."

11/04/2017 17:40 EDT | Updated 11/04/2017 18:22 EDT
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Protesters attend a #MeToo rally outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday.

A Saturday morning rally in Vancouver in solidarity with those who have found strength in the #MeToo campaign is another example of how the movement has affected the city.

More than 100 people gathered outside the Vancouver Art Gallery to share their #MeToo stories of sexual assault and harassment.

Organizer Samantha Monckton told News 1130 that she hopes that groups of women continue coming out.

"(I've been) looking at people differently, been on the street thinking 'maybe they have a situation that they have encountered too', there's so many 'Me Toos' out there," she said. "We need to do action now, we need to stop this from occurring in the future."

Added another organizer Jodie Ortega: "We wanted to take the #MeToo hashtag out of the realm of Facebook, the internet, and bring it to a public space because #MeToo is about a conversation between survivors, an exchange of empathy ... letting people know that they're not alone."

"It's an opportunity for survivors and allies to come together," she told Global News.

Even the B.C. NDP convention in the Victoria Conference Centre Saturday featured attendees who waved their own #MeToo signs, drawing support from B.C. Premier John Horgan.

The #MeToo movement has also inspired men in Vancouver to try and play a part in ensuring that sexual violence and toxic masculinity stop.

Ryan Avola runs iGuy empowerment workshops, which seeks to teach boys aged eight to 12 how to discuss societal expectations to be tough, what it means to be a man, and issues of harassment.

"There is still a lot of backlash from men, young men too, when we start to deconstruct ideas of masculinity and especially violence against women," he told CBC's Early Edition. "A lot of the reaction is kind of, 'Well, this is the way it is' or 'This is not my problem, I don't do this. I'm not that man.'"

The workshops fit with the recent wave of #IWill and #Ivedonethat campaigns on social media from men acknowledging their role in sexual harassment, and how they intend to change.

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Clubgoers inside Vancouver's Sonar nightclub.

But such social media campaigns have dark sides too.

On Saturday, The Globe and Mail published an investigation into the perils of "hashtag activism." It chronicled the allegations of two unnamed women who wrote separate Facebook posts about their experiences in the city's club scene.

One post detailed alleged sexual assault, while the other accused seven alleged attackers, based on a compilation of stories. Both social media posts named DJ Zachary Webb — who took his own life on Oct. 17. It's unknown if Webb was aware of the claims, noted the newspaper.

Such very public accusations sparked debate about the right to speak out balanced with someone's right to due process. Defamation lawyer Alan McConchie said a "mass movement" like #MeToo can lead to a dangerous flood of second-hand allegations.

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