Though it's some of the most intimate information a person can share, hundreds of thousands of women took to Twitter on Friday and Saturday to share stories of their sexual assaults. The product—a public forum of catharsis for grieving and healing and a testament to the overwhelming prevalence of assault—was a direct response to the heartbreaking, casual cruelty of Donald Trump's recently unearthed comments that famous men "can do anything" to women, including grabbing them "by the p****."
The exercise, spearheaded by novelist Kelly Oxford, was, for many, an imperative declaration of the sanctity of respect, and a particularly poignant reminder as Donald Trump has watched his candidacy all but implode in less than 24 hours. Users tweeted using the hashtag #notokay and were soon trending internationally.
Oxford's inspiration was evident as she told her story first, sharing that when she was just 12 years old, a man "grabs my 'p****'" on the city bus.
She wrote on Twitter that she received sexual assault stories for "14 hours straight" at a "minimum 50 per minute." Oxford herself shared five different instances of assault. It's not a surprising statistic, considering that a person is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the U.S., and that one in five college women will experience a sexual assault over the course of her education.
The stories cut across lines of race, class, age, and ability. Women told stories of being assaulted by family members at eight years of age; others told of being physically abused by boyfriends, lovers, and husbands. And some women told their stories of assaults by complete strangers in public spaces, which included subway cars, city squares, grocery stores.
The lesson is important: Because of rhetoric like Trump's, many women don't—and can't—feel safe in their daily lives. Regardless of the circumstance, the stories showed that the language we use to describe women, and the way that we treat them, is #notokay.