The Importance of #MeToo

Twitter hashtag highlights social issue

“Silencing women silences justice.”- DaShanne Stokes

With the outbreak of sexual assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the roar of silence is becoming less deafening. The number of actors, actresses, and other individuals coming forth is staggering.

With these allegations, the system of sexual assault in the entertainment industry, as well as in the workplace in general, is coming to light. The recognition of this destructive structure has created a worldwide moment of women and men coming together to share their stories of sexual assault online and through social media.

The hashtag #MeToo has become the anthem of sexual assault victims. Started ten years ago by activist Tarana Burke, the outpour of Weinstein allegations has sparked a new fire in this movement.

Even if you’re not a victim of sexual assault, the #MeToo movement is important to recognize

American society has been forging a new, progressive path in which sexual assault is not only illegal, but regarded as a disgusting, immoral act. Despite this new path that society is trying to walk on, rape culture is still promoted, in explicit and implicit ways.

In our society, we still view catcalling as acceptable, or a way of complimenting attractive strangers. It isn’t wholly understood that making those comments, towards any individual, is inappropriate.

Women all too often are pressured to just “ignore it” when men make suggestive comments or touch them inappropriately in the workplace, so that they don’t jeopardize the reputation of others around them. In fact, according to National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 8% of rapes occur at work.

Recent legal action has also presented the idea that society silences sexual assault victims.  Cases, such as the Brock Turner Trial, are  primary examples. Despite the fact the Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious, intoxicated woman, he received a meager sentence of six months, with three years of probation. If that seems like even a remotely appropriate sentence, remember that in the state of Nebraska, one can receive up to five years in jail for stealing someone else’s mail.

The current president also doesn’t display sensitivity to matters regarding sexual violence, as exemplified in his past actions. Setting all politics aside, there have been numerous women who have spoken out about how President Donald Trump sexually assaulted them, and tapes released of Trump making crass, demeaning, sexual comments regarding women. Trump claimed the comments were just “locker room talk.”

If that truly just is “locker room talk,” then that poses the question: why is making such demeaning comments commonplace in athletic culture? And why is Trump defining those comments as “locker room talk” acceptable to us as a society?

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to authorities. Based on statistics such as this, it is adequate to infer that we do not promote an attitude of awareness and prevention. The #MeToo movement is a step in the right direction, if we as a society are willing to accept it and try to understand the stigma that we place on both male and female victims of sexual assault.

Silence is no longer an option. Be an ally, and encourage victims to take the steps necessary to heal and move forward. If we come together, then no one is alone.