The #MeToo movement was started over a decade ago by Tarana Burke, a New York activist. The movement was given a breath of fresh air when it resurfaced this year. After Harvey Weinstein, a big-shot film producer, was outed by multiple women for sexual assault and harassment, actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter. She asked “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” The movement grew and spread across all forms of social media.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, women are still using their voices to bring to light just how big of an issue sexual harassment and assault is. It may seem like this idea came out of nowhere to some, but women have been dealing with sexism/sexual harassment/inequality for all of time. Over the years, women FOUGHT tooth and nail for the same freedoms men are so easily given. We have been objectified and sexualized, and then blamed for that objectification/sexualization.
We see it everyday. Government officials (who control our healthcare and make decisions regarding a woman’s body) in January of 2016 were 77% male. A slew of sexual predators are being removed from their positions of power, and women are STILL being paid 80 cents for every dollar men are paid. I am sure for some it is easy. It is easy to be complacent. It is easy to pretend like the problems women face today are nonexistent. But for the victims of sexual harassment and inequality — it is not easy.
The start of this movement is beautiful. While it brings attention to the issue, it does not change society. So, what do we do? We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be better to our women. We’ve got to stop victim-shaming and silencing women. We’ve got to abolish the idea that men are greater than women. We’ve got to teach our boys what consent really is. We’ve got to stop normalizing trauma. We as WOMEN need to believe and empower other women and not fall victim to the internalized misogyny that is so prevalent in today’s society.
We need to hold the men in our lives accountable. We need to change the dialogue from “these are things that happen TO women” to “these are things men are doing”. We need to demand that men step up and take responsibility for their action. We need to push for legislation that protects the victims of these disgusting and heinous acts. We need to put our efforts and funds behind non-violence and women’s rights organizations.
To my fellow survivors: You are loved and cherished. You matter. I hear you, and you are never alone. If you ever need help, The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673.
YCYD Vice President