People on Twitter are using a powerful hashtag to condemn Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore of Alabama amid the recent allegations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl.
North Carolina lawyer Catherine R.L. Lawson created the hashtag #MeAt14 a few hours after the news broke Thursday that Moore allegedly gave a 14-year-old girl alcohol and touched her inappropriately in 1979, when he was 32 years old. Three other women say that Moore pursued them sexually when they were between 16 and 18 years old.
While most Senate Republicans immediately distanced themselves from Moore, many GOP officials in Alabama stood by the Senate nominee. One Alabama Marion County GOP chairman even dismissed the allegations to the Toronto Star, insinuating that a 14-year-old can give consent.
“I shared a picture of me at 14 to illustrate there is no acceptable version of this story,” Lawson told BBC. “Teenagers can’t consent to a relationship with a grown man, ever.”
Moore responded to the allegations on Saturday, calling them “hurtful” and politically motivated, designed to ruin his Senate chances in a vote that will take place Dec. 12.
“I am not guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone,” Moore said. “I have the highest regard for protection of young women ... I have not provided alcoholic beverages, beer, or anything else to a minor.”
The #MeAt14 hashtag picked up steam when Lizz Winstead, co-creator of “The Daily Show,” tweeted a photo of herself at 14 on Saturday.
“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,” Winstead wrote, asking others to tweet a picture of their 14-year-old selves.
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. Who were you at 14? Tweet a pic, tell us who you were and pic to the top of your page #MeAt14#NoMoorepic.twitter.com/HPVzMgaD8h— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) November 12, 2017
Many women and men joined in on the #MeAt14 hashtag. Some described how naive they were at 14, reiterating that someone so young cannot give consent to a 32-year-old man.
Others shared photos of their teen selves along with their stories of sexual abuse and how they’ve healed.
Winstead told HuffPost she believes the hashtag resonated with so many people because “women profoundly understand that they are vulnerable to predators by their mere existence,” adding that “to hear ‘dating’ used by Moore as a way to lay blame on his 14-year-old victim was not going to stand.”
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In 1961, this is #MeAt14 in Decatur, IL. Growing up a “cute boy” in the 1950s, the predators weren’t just strangers. They were “friends & family.” The recent news has caused more flashbacks, PTSD, and caution than usual. Folks should know these are hard times for all survivors. pic.twitter.com/clScOr3gNL— Loren Coleman (@CryptoLoren) November 13, 2017
Me at 15. At #disneyworld with family. Only a year older than the kids that #raymoore had “affairs” with. Let’s be clear, 14 year olds are #children. So are 15 and 16 year olds. #nomoore#MeAt14pic.twitter.com/pEpBq0MjCI— Benish Shah (@benishshah) November 13, 2017
A picture around the age when as a teen #MeAt14 when I was sexually assaulted, over 40 years ago. Still remember it to this day, though at the time I did not report it, nor tell anyone, since I didn't know it was assault. I do now,— Timothy McBride (@mcbridetd) November 11, 2017
That doesn't mean it didn't happen @MooreSenatepic.twitter.com/EjcxBluzCg
This is #MeAt14 , having already been abused by a grown man. I'm lost. Battling anorexia, bulimia, insomnia, low self esteem, I've already begun drinking.— Laura Parrott Perry (@lparrottperry) November 13, 2017
This is what the aftermath of sexual abuse looks like. #NoMoorepic.twitter.com/D9loYOAJZp
#MeAt14 All I wanted to do was play softball. I was attacked by a neighbor boy who had snuck into our house. I fought him and broke the kitchen. My stepfather beat me and said it was my fault. #NoMoorepic.twitter.com/XtnOqBGrpV— OMG IM This (@weatherbee_lisa) November 13, 2017
Big names like actress Alyssa Milano, journalists Gretchen Carlson and Katie Couric, and author Jenny Han weighed in on the #MeAt14 conversation.
“I was eating a lot of chocolate chip cookie dough and learning to do the ‘hustle’ and not worrying about a 32 year old man trying to hustle me,” Couric tweeted with a photo of herself as a teenager.
Milano wrote: “I worshipped my brother. I loved my dog, Pucci. I loved OMD. I had Big hair. I was happy. I was innocent.”
Head over to Twitter to read more #MeAt14 stories.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.