Yeah, me too. And her too. And my mother and grandmothers too. And my best friend too. And the girl who sits next to me in class too. And one in three women worldwide too. And you too? You’re not alone.
The deluge of “me too” on social media accounts began with actress Alyssa Milano, who in response to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse and harassment allegations, tweeted: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give men a sense of the magnitude of the problem. #MeToo.”
The campaign is important because discussion around sexual assault is often shrouded in shame, and the #MeToo statuses empower individuals to dismantle the silence around this issue.
The question is: will it actually change anything? Maybe it will prove to assaulters that their victims will no longer remain silent, and maybe survivors will feel encouraged to seek help. But if the goal is to boost awareness around the issue, specifically, as Milano says, to make MEN more aware, why does the burden fall on me, as a female survivor of sexual assault?
It shouldn’t matter how many women, femmes, gender neutral, and non-conforming people speak their truths. We all know the statistics, and we see sexual violence and harassment happening on a daily basis. Men shouldn’t need a threshold of survivors to come forward in order to care. The emotional burden of the movement should be on the assailants’ and enablers’ shoulders, not the survivors.
And yet, as a society, we’re just not there. Sexual harassment—whether it happens on the street, in the Ticker, or the White House—has been trivialized. The “chill girl” is expected to shrug off every ass-grab and misogynist comment and keep strutting. We let it go because standing up can seem pointless. In a society that doesn’t validate many females’ experiences, we women DO need to speak up. (Of course, no survivor should feel the need to oust themselves on social media). We can’t wait for men to take responsibility for their actions or for the rhetoric to change. Men are often oblivious to the problem simply because it doesn’t happen to them.
If you feel angry or shocked by the overwhelming number of “Me Too” posts, you’ve seen popping up on your feed, you’re not alone. On our campus, there’s a night coming up that breaks the silence surrounding rape culture. It’s called Take Back the Night. But unlike the #MeToo campaign, it not only raises awareness, but shifts the focus back to the survivor. As our speakers tell their stories, the event is meant to make survivors feel validated, to let them know they’re not alone, and to take some of the emotional burden off their shoulders.
Come to the Chapel on Tuesday October 24 at 7 P.M. It is a concrete action we all can take to stand in solidarity with survivors and take a stance against sexual violence. Like the #MeToo campaign, Take Back the Night serves as another route to systematic change, and it begins with you and me.