There are more and more people coming forward to share their stories about sexual assault and harassment. As I read the stories, it makes me sick to think that these people exist in our world. It also saddens me for the same reason. At the same time, I feel incredible empathy for the women who have not only survived this but who are now telling their stories. I don’t necessarily think of myself in this same category, but I have been the victim of my share of sexual harassment over the years. I think over time, we chalk it up to some kind of “normal”. How bad does that sound? Maybe we don’t think that the behavior is ok, but we certainly don’t feel like we can stop it. So why bother?
Until now. There are a group of women known as “The Silence Breakers” who have come forward to tell their stories about sexual harassment and assault. They all have incredibly horrible stories to tell, but it also takes incredible strength to do so. Which is why Time Magazine has named The Silence Breakers as “Person of the Year”. Sorry, Donald – you didn’t make it. Especially not when you put him next to these women. There is no competition, in my opinion.
The #MeToo movement was actually started back in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke. However, it’s getting more attention lately due to celebrities on social media sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault. The cover of Time features some of the women who spoke out against Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein resigned from his studio in October and faces more than 80 sexual misconduct allegations dating back to the 1970s. This is horrible. Women have been living with this for 40 years in some cases.
More specifically the cover features – Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Adama Iwu, Isabel Pascual and Susan Fowler. Actress Rose McGowan settled with Weinstein in 1997 after accusing him of rape. It literally saddens me to type that last sentence and to know that she had to “settle” with him and that he wasn’t actually charged. She has said that she wanted to expose how “Hollywood propagates a culture of silence in order to protect the powerful”. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. We (as a society) make excuses for bad behavior for some reason. Especially when it comes to people in authority positions.
The idea of the #MeToo movement is to bring awareness to the issue. Because of the hashtag, women don’t necessarily have to share the details of their stories. This allows the world to know that people – men and women – are being victimized. It also demonstrates the breadth of this issue. There are so many people (not just women) who have been victims of sexual harassment or assault and this kind of hashtag is extremely important today. Burke wants people to know that this isn’t just a moment in time, but rather this is a movement. A movement that needs to become a part of our culture, so that our children can learn that this kind of behavior isn’t ok. This isn’t going away. We are seeing the entertainment industry turned on its head because of all the people coming forward, but it’s not going to stop anytime soon.