Why not #MeToo

Aanya Agharwal, Opinion's Editor

It was the summer after freshman year. Millard North student Anvi Singhania* was spending a few weeks away from home at a summer camp, where she met Rohan*. He was handsome, charismatic, and smart.

He was also the reason she couldn’t let a male touch her for another year.

She didn’t think he was the type of person to commit an act of sexual violence when she first met him. The rose-colored glasses of naivety made her mistake his insolence for confidence, his rude comments as boyish teasing.

“I’m not stupid, I saw the red flags but [I] chose to ignore them,” Singhania said.

After two weeks of getting to know each other, Anvi and Rohan decided to take things to the next level.

“One day, we were flirting in the commons area. The next, he was in my dorm at 10 PM,” Singhania said.

Singhania talks about how things started off normal enough.

“We were just chilling. Then, he began kissing me. I was okay with that, but then he kept trying to pressure me into doing other things that I was not at all comfortable with,” Singhania said.

Anvi, just 15 at the time, even explicitly told him what he was doing was wrong.

“[I was] sick to my stomach. At one point, I think I even told him ‘hey, you know the things you’re saying count as sexual harassment, right?’,” Singhania said.

He laughed it off.

Coercion is defined  by The US Department of Health and Human Services Office On Women’s’ Health as unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a non-physical way.

The conceptions surrounding its classification are vague and situational. Some consider it sexual harassment, while others see it as assault. Many see it as nothing but some rudeness on the guilty party’s part.

“I couldn’t talk to anyone about what happened to me at camp because technically, I said ‘yes’ to one of the many things he tried to coerce me to into doing,” Singhania said. “Consent is weird that way. The words yes and no usually don’t consider whether the person saying them has been pressured into their response.”

A little bit after camp, the #MeToo movement began to gain traction. Anvi, subsequently, was in an awful spot.

“God! The amount of times I just wanted to scream from the rooftops that I was traumatized too, that the movement should be for me, too,” Singhania said. “But I said ‘yes’. Even though every bit of me wanted to say ‘no’, I said ‘yes’. To make him shut up and stop telling me that I was boring him, I said ‘yes’. So whatever happened was officially on me.”

Because she said ‘yes’, although unwillingly, Anvi was found exempt from a movement that could have offered her solidarity in numbers, comfort where there was none to be found.

“The #MeToo movement is really amazing in all the work it does, but it doesn’t really consider itself applicable to girls like me,” Singhania said. “Why not me too?”

If a movement that has already changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of women over the last year could adapt to make itself pertinent to people in Anvi’s position, the impact would be colossal. Not only would it offer a community to lean on, but it would also shed light on a lesser known form of sexual violence, coercion. Although the current #MeToo situation is less inclusive than many would hope, change is on the horizon for those currently not included in the movement.

So, Anvi, the question is not if you’ll ever get to scream #MeToo from the rooftops. It’s when you’ll get to scream #MeToo from the rooftops.  

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the people mentioned