Donald Trump Jr. misused #MeToo, and here's why that's a big problem

It’s possible Donald Trump Jr. has no idea what the #MeToo movement is — or he doesn’t care — and Twitter isn’t happy about it.

The president’s son sent a tweet last week simply reading “#metoo,” the hashtag that has become attached to the movement to remove the stigma associated with sexual assault and abuse and to help survivors of abuse. #MeToo went viral right after countless women went public with their sexual assault accusations against Harvey Weinstein and has since become a beacon for expanding the conversation around sexual violence “to speak to the needs of a broader spectrum of survivors.”

It seems Trump Jr. missed this major moment, or he’s just blatantly disregarding it, because his tweet had nothing to do with sexual assault. Instead, he was responding to a tweet about conservative commentator Candace Owens and black approval for his father. Male black approval, at that.

Twitter isn’t having it. “Ewwwwwwww you should never be allowed to hashtag that in your life!” one follower wrote. “You don’t get to make a joke or commandeer that phrase to turn it into whatever-and if you’re using it as a ‘I support this woman here’ show that’s even more ignorant. Have respect for the women who used that phrase in sharing stories of violence against them.” 

Many cannot believe he had the audacity to use the hashtag when 19 women have accused his father of sexual misconduct. “I don’t think you get to use the #MeToo hashtag when your dad is one of the reasons it was created,” someone wrote. “Your father is one of the main reasons why this # has been created. I doubt you ever felt forced into something and had to take abuse without being able to defend yourself ever in life. You are staining this # and what it stands for, all the improvements we made so far. Shame,” another echoed. “Are you seriously using #metoo as a supportive hashtag for your dad? Seriously? A man with 19 accusers lined up against him? Really? What a buffoon.”

A few people seem slightly convinced he just doesn’t know what the hashtag stands for or don’t think it’s a big deal to use it nonchalantly. “Are you saying you were sexually harassed by a black person?” one confused, or sarcastic, follower wrote in response. “You’re really clueless using that hashtag!” another said. “#metoo isn’t about who colluded with Russians Donny.” 

That likely isn’t the case, though, since he’s used the hashtag improperly before. Last month, in response to a Washington Examiner tweet about Barack Obama being relieved to be out of office, Trump Jr. wrote, “#metoo.” And the response was just as savage as it has been this time around.

Most think he knew exactly what he was doing and are disgusted by it because of the way it diminishes the movement. And they’re right. “The #MeToo movement was started to draw attention to the problems associated with sexual violence and harassment. Misappropriating the term detracts from the importance of the issue,” Michele Bedard-Gilligan, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Bedard-Gilligan is the lead investigator of Project Brite, a study aimed at helping sexual assault victims better cope with their trauma. “We have a fair amount of evidence at this point that suggests a significant relationship between experiencing sexual violation/assault experiences and problems with mental health, substance use, and functioning,” she adds. According to a meta-analytic review of sexual assault’s impact on mental health, people who have been sexually assaulted report significantly worse mental health than unassaulted comparisons. The study, conducted by Bedard-Gilligan’s colleague Emily R. Dworkin, PhD, found that sexual assault was associated with increased risk for all forms of mental disorders assessed. There were stronger associations between sexual assault and posttraumatic stress, and sexual assault and suicidality. “When the term is used inappropriately it minimizes the importance of the issue and implies a similarity between other nontraumatic experiences and sexual assault that is not accurate.”

Whatever his intention, it would Be Best if Trump Jr. would mind his hashtags.

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