We saw #MeToo fill our news feeds. Some of us were surprised by the number of friends, who were mostly women, we knew who had experienced harassment or assault. But for some of us, this public showing of our friend’s stories confirmed what we already knew, and made us feel safe enough to share our own.
We’ve been catcalled walking down sunny streets, minding our own business.
Partners have taken our “no’s” as an invitation to try harder.
One of us was raped while having a panic attack and couldn’t say no.
We weren’t happy, we were scared, when our bodies began to develop, because of the looks grown men gave us.
We know, better than we’d like to, exactly what the impact is of the #MeToo campaign.
The #MeToo was created nearly a decade ago by a woman named Tarana Burke who recognized a gap in sexual assault services in communities of color. She told Democracy Now that she started the movement to find a succinct way to inspire empathy for survivors of harassment and assault. Burke had heard the phrase herself and as a survivor of sexual violence she said hearing it: “changed the trajectory of my healing process.”
This campaign started as one survivor saying to another, “Me, too.” This phrase had power when Burke heard it, and still does because of the self-doubt and isolation put on survivors of harassment and assault in our culture. It helped women understand that this is not something they have to go through alone.
#MeToo is starting to chip away at that isolation fed by the silence surrounding this violence. Women shared their stories, which either inspired other women to do the same or gave comfort to those that are not to the point of being able to share yet. This widespread sharing helped shed a light on the abusers all around us, not just Hollywood hotshots.
These stories of abuse open up the ways harassment and assault have been normalized in our culture: women not thinking anything of getting slapped on the butt, or touched without their consent, or asked to do things they are uncomfortable with. #MeToo helps to expose these boundary violations as such and reaffirm to women that their body belongs to them.
From here, the world needs to listen in order to end workplace harassment and assault.
Consider what Megyn Kelly told Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. Instead of journalists asking whether she reported the sexual harassment she endured at the hands of Roger Ailes at Fox News, Kelly said the first thing to ask should be whether there is a safe avenue to report it. If that answer is “no,” then someone has no business asking her whether she reported it or not.
Speaking out about experiences can only do so much if there are not safe and worthwhile ways to report and remedy sexual harassment and assault. This campaign showed us the magnitude and reach of sexual assault and harassment. Each one of us can make a difference in the lives of people who have experienced these injustices.
Instead of asking survivors why they won’t tell their stories, we must ask ourselves, how we can make this world better and more liberatory so that every survivor feels comfortable enough to live and tell the devastating truth of their lives in a world so intent on domination.
Women, and men, need to stand together under this scrutiny of our culture’s social norms. Recognizing that our culture and country, which preaches against human rights violation against women worldwide, is lacking in our own values.
Unity and understanding is the only path forward. Hiding behind a veil of silence due to the stigma attached to survivors of sexual assault or harassment is a concept that needs to be left in the past.
There are several methods to report a sexual assault at WCC which include anonymous, online or in-person reports. Students can report a concern online, calling WCC’s Title IX coordinator at 734-973-3536 or visiting their office in the Student Center in room 247.