Women from throughout the United States are posting under the #MeAt14 hashtag on Twitter to highlight the innocence of girls at 14-years-old and to underscore that they are not close to being ready for sexual consent.
The trending Twitter hashtag is being used by women to post photos of themselves at age 14. Many accompany the photos with descriptions designed to show how young and vulnerable they were at that age. The trend ignited after the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore, was accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old prosecutor in 1979. Three other women also alleged overtures or dates with Moore when they were teens (ages 16, 17, and 18) in The Washington Post expose; the age of consent in Alabama was 16. Since the accusations hit the newspaper, Republicans have responded in different ways, with some calling for Moore to step aside, others calling on him to step aside if the allegations are proven true, and others defending him. Enter the #MeAt14 trend.
One man wrote of the trend, “#MeAt14 makes me sad for the world and, of course, most of all, for women. Keep telling us & those of us listening will be better men for it.” A woman wrote, “No photo handy. I was painfully shy. Loved to read. Was on the school paper and in choir. Didn’t date for 2 more years and then he was my age, not 32. #MeAt14 #NoMoore.” And another: “#MeAt14 Cheerleader. Music nerd. Freshman in high school. Bangs. Toe socks. I’m 32 now.”
Moore has strongly denied the accusations. The former judge made his first campaign appearance on November 11 since the accusations were reported, appearing “at a mid-Alabama Republican Club meeting honoring Veterans Day,” and calling the accusations “fake news.” Around the same time, the #MeAt14 hashtag began trending. It was somewhat reminiscent of the #metoo hashtag that people used to describe their own experiences with sexual abuse and harassment after Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was socked with a series of such accusations.
The comments with the #MeAt14 photos include remarks such as these: “I was born in ‘72 and this pic is date stamped ‘86. I’m on the right. I hadn’t ever really kissed a boy. I thought 32 year old men were OLD and totally gross. #MeAt14” and “I thought I was pretty cool at 14. As cool as I may have been, I could not consent to a romantic relationship with a grown adult attorney #MeAt14” and “bless the woman who began #MeAt14 Children are precious.”
The photos capture the innocence and youth of girls at that age. Some showed girls in braces and discussed childlike pursuits, such as making friendship bracelets or still having stuffed animals on their beds. “Just a kid excited to take photos in a photo booth,” read one of the posts. Women expressed that they would have been in no way ready to be involved with a 32-year-old man at the age of 14. The photos were designed to punctuate that point in a way that words can not.
Here are some of the #MeAt14 posts:
You can read more about Moore’s accuser Leigh Corfman here.