ALABAMA, Nov 14 — As Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore defies calls to stand down over allegations he sought sex with a 14-year-old girl, women are taking to social media to share photos of themselves at that age, and raise the alarm over the issue of consent.
Four women have told The Washington Post the politician pursued them when they were 18 or younger, while he was an assistant district attorney in his thirties, and a fifth accuser came forward yesterday alleging Moore assaulted her at age 16.
The US Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell has urged the Christian evangelical to end his campaign, but many in Moore’s home state have stood by him and some appeared to brush off the seriousness of the allegations.
That prompted Catherine Lawson, a North Carolina-based lawyer, to tweet out in anger Friday night — apparently launching what has become a viral social media movement.
“Can’t consent at 14. Not in Alabama. Not anywhere,” posted Lawson, coining the hashtag #MeAt14 in an echo of the #MeToo movement encouraging victims of abuse to speak out following the allegations of misconduct targeting Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein.
The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead picked up the rallying cry, urging women to post pictures of their teenaged selves, asking: “Who were you at 14?”
“This is me at 14. I was on the gymnastics team and sang in the choir. I was not dating a 32 year old man,” she tweeted.
The response was overwhelming, as women flooded Twitter with images of their youthful selves in a kaleidoscope of 1980s hair, braces and schoolgirl innocence.
Actress Alyssa Milano, who sparked the original #MeToo phenomenon, was among the first to respond.
“#MeAt14 I worshipped my brother. I loved my dog, Pucci. I loved OMD. I had Big hair. I was happy. I was innocent,” she wrote.
“Please share your #MeAt14.”
Other high-profile figures to embrace the hashtag included journalist Katie Couric who said that at 14 she was “eating a lot of chocolate chip cookie dough” and “not worrying about a 32-year-old man trying to hustle me.”
Moore has denied the allegations, and vowed to sue the Post for reporting on them. — AFP