#NotOkay Twitter, Trump and Sexual Assault: A Call to Men for Action

Author: Michigan State University
Published: Monday 8th January 2018
Summary: Twitter campaign #NotOkay included a large number of tweets by both women and men calling on men to shut down locker room talk that is degrading to women.


The social media backlash against sexual assault not only gives victims a collective outlet for disclosure, but also serves as a powerful tool to urge boys and men to condemn violence against women, finds a first-of-its-kind study by Michigan State University scholars.

#NotOkay, a Twitter campaign against Donald Trump's statements about grabbing women's genitals, included a surprisingly large number of tweets by both women and men calling on men to shut down "locker room talk" that is degrading to women.

"Boys being boys?" said one Twitter user. "Don't insult me. I've been a boy all my life and I've never did or said things like that before."

Social media is serving as a powerful tool in which users are urging men to condemn violence against women, a new Michigan State University study finds - (Image Credit Unsplash.com)
Social media is serving as a powerful tool in which users are urging men to condemn violence against women, a new Michigan State University study finds - (Image Credit Unsplash.com)
#NotOkay was followed by the influential #MeToo campaign, which Oprah Winfrey referenced in a powerful Golden Globes speech on Jan. 7, specifically noting the role of men. "I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon!" Winfrey said. "And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women ... and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say 'Me Too' again."

MSU's Megan Maas, who led the study examining thousands of #NotOkay tweets, said people in the social media campaign were identifying on Twitter as a way to make the issue more visible, but were also asking for change in specific ways such as engaging boys and men.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people calling boys and men into action," said Maas, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. "This is where our field is at. For the last 20 years it's been about how not to get raped - how to avoid being sexually harassed - but now we're moving toward bystander intervention. Its about getting boys and men to step in when it looks like their friend is about to say something derogatory or potentially do something predatory toward women."

Author Kelly Oxford started the #NotOkay campaign in October 2016 after the public release of then-presidential candidate Trump's vulgar comments about women to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush. "Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything," said Trump, who later defended his comments as "locker room banter."

More recently, the #MeToo Twitter campaign rose to prominence following high-profile sexual assault accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Time Magazine called the people behind that movement "The Silence Breakers" and named them Time's Person of the Year for 2017.

Maas and colleagues were the first researchers to capture and analyze tweets related to sexual behavior. Aside from the harrowing disclosures of sexual violence, there were myriad tweets that commented more generally on Trump and sexual assault. Overall, three themes emerged:

"We urge everyone, but particularly men and boys, who are in a position like Billy Bush to resist engaging in or to actively shut down conversations that are degrading to women," Maas said. "Research shows that doing so makes an impact on changing social norms that are permissive of violence against women. In turn, sexual assault and harassment is prevented."

The study, titled "I was grabbed by my p***y and it's #NotOkay:" A Twitter backlash against Donald Trump's degrading commentary," is published online in the journal Violence Against Women. Co-authors are MSU faculty members Heather McCauley and Amy Bonomi and MSU doctoral student S. Gisela Leija.


Similar Topics


From our Gender Equality section - Full List (20 Items)

Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.


Experiences of Food Insecurity Among Californian LGBTQ


U.S. DOJ Files Statement of Interest Defending Constitutionality of Idaho's Fairness in Women's Sports Act


US Supreme Court Decision Protects 8.1M LGBT Workers From Employment Discrimination


LGB People Who Have Undergone Conversion Therapy Almost Twice As Likely to Attempt Suicide


After Marriage Equality Ruling LGBT Emotional Well-being Improved


Revolutionary Technology Customizes Film to Viewer's Race, Gender, Sexual Preference, and More


Same-sex Weddings Boost U.S. State Economies by $3.8 Billion Since Marriage Equality Ruling


Over 200,000 LGBT adults in California at High Risk for COVID-19



Tsara Shelton
"Storytellers are powerful and we are all storytellers," suggests Tsara Shelton, author of the book Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up..


LGBT Awareness & Events
List of important LGBT awareness dates and coming sexual diversity events.


Transgender Reporting Guide - English
Guide for those writing on transgender and LGBT community - Spanish Version.
Sexuality Definitions
List of definitions and glossary of sexual terms, abbreviations and their meanings.