The Washington Post
Sexual harassment, violence, abuse and misconduct have unfortunately always been present in society. Such mistreatment has been able to go on for a multitude of reasons. In some cases it is the fear of retribution. Will defending myself get me blackballed, fired, or even slut shamed? For others it may be because of the way we teach women to be nice and refined while growing up. Could it have been something I wore or was I giving off a vibe?
Whatever the reason, it is not good enough. There is no reason for a person to be in a situation where they feel uncomfortable, threatened and feel as if they can do nothing about it. Some victims of this abuse never do anything about it, and it is not right for others to judge them for doing so.
However, there are those who do speak up and we are starting to hear their stories more and more. So much so, that recently over social media we are hearing and seeing the words ‘Me Too’ in support and solidarity for the fight against sexual violence.
“The me too movement has built a community of survivors from all walks of life. By bringing vital conversations about sexual violence into the mainstream, we’re helping to de-stigmatize survivors by highlighting the breadth and impact sexual violence has on thousands of women, and we’re helping those who need it to find entry points to healing.” This is the statement found on the official website of the “Me Too” movement, explaining the campaign.
The original movement began 10 years ago by Tarana Burke, who strived to put a focus on supporting sexual assault victims of color and victims from other marginalized groups in our country’s society. She created the movement hoping to encourage support for the survivors of sexual abuse, rather than focusing attention on the perpetrators. She also aimed towards incorporating a cultural shift in the way we teach younger generations about these topics. “We have to really interrogate the way that we raise our children. And the way that we socialize our children,” said Burke in an interview with Yes! Magazine. “We should be talking about respect and boundaries. We should be talking about what it means to ask permission.”
The work that Burke has been doing to help those with a lesser voice become a focus for change is worth much attention; however, the movement and concept of “Me Too” was not as widely known until very recently. This attention came when actress Alyssa Milano posted on social media writing, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” in a response to the Harvey Weinstein accusations of sexual abuse circulating through Hollywood. Since then #MeToo has been tweeted over 1.7 million times and brings with it a spotlight on the issue.
Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, Lupita Nyong’o and countless other actresses have spoken so truthfully and seriously about their experiences in Hollywood. Also, they have done a great job of eloquently speaking up for a stop to the sexual harassment that should never be happening in our society. “We need to formalize the whisper network. It’s an ingenious way that we’ve tried to keep ourselves safe. All those voices can be amplified. That’s my advice to women. That and if something feels wrong, it is wrong-and it’s wrong by my definition and not necessarily by someone else’s,” explains Judd.
These actresses are using their high platforms of influence over the media to make a difference in the way we speak about sexual violence and inequalities against women. However, there seems to be a loss in recognition of voices coming from other races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds which happens to be a common theme involving the media.
During this time of conversation it is important to include the experiences and stories of those who aren’t always heard. We need to let marginalized groups of women know that they are not alone. We need to put a focus on other careers in which women experience assault including: waitressing, housekeeping, factory employees, and even those who work in various white collar professions. We need to encourage them that they too have a voice to speak up.
A lot of times people look up to stars and celebrities in admiration for everything that they do. I do this quite often. But, at the same time, we cannot ignore the same things that are happening in our own backyards. When concerning these serious issues, the celebrities are just like you and me.
“I founded the ‘Me Too’ movement in 2006 because I wanted to find a way to connect with the black and brown girls in the program I ran. But if I am being honest with myself, and you, I often wonder if that sister in the diner has ever heard of #MeToo, and if she has, does she know it’s for #UsToo,” says Burke in an interview with the Washington Post.
Remember that sexual harassment can happen to anyone no matter their race or status, and you should listen to those speaking up. If we can all stand together in solidarity with ‘Me Too’ we can work towards ending sexual violence. Soon there will be a day where kids are taught that no means no, no matter the circumstance. They will be taught that speaking up is not a bad thing to be ashamed of and will never be afraid to say “Me Too.”