Don’t let #MeToo be another shout into the void
During the past several weeks, people have banded together on social media to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault through the #MeToo movement. Scrolling through social media websites like Twitter and Facebook reveals innumerable statuses and updates, with people either letting #MeToo stand alone or sharing more details about their experiences. These brave survivors have put their anonymity and comfort on the line to confront a systemic issue head-on.
It’s no secret that survivors of sexual harassment and assault have been silenced in the past, making this campaign an appropriate stride in the direction of acknowledging how common the problem is. Without awareness, a cycle emerges that defines the systemic nature of the issue—silence encourages shame, then more silence, then less change.
While the main hope of the campaign is to draw attention to the magnitude of the problem, I hope it has the capacity to grow and do far more. By breaking the silence, it’s possible for the entire cycle to break, with fewer survivors feeling shameful about their experiences and more people, with the intrinsic privileges to do so, willingly fighting for change.
Staring at this demonstration and ignoring that Title IX rollbacks are being legitimized would be criminal. President Donald Trump’s administration has chosen to focus on the danger of “destroying the lives of wrongfully accused male students,” while only two percent of rapes are falsely reported. Because apparently the other 98 percent of people who report honestly need to suffer more than they already have. A system that already essentially operates in favor of the accused will become even more skewed by this mindset.
If you’re not already aware of how massive the problem of sexual assault and harassment is, you haven’t been listening. You haven’t been listening to your president. You haven’t been listening to your Congressional representatives. And most importantly, you haven’t listened to the millions of people who have broken the silence.
It is unfair to survivors who have confronted their past trauma in efforts to bolster the campaign for it to become just another unheard voice in a movement for awareness. Listen to their stories. Saying “I believe you” isn’t enough—it’s actually just the bare minimum. Creating an apology hashtag isn’t enough. Listen to their stories, and do something that actually changes the problem. Be a supportive friend, an active bystander, a sexual assault hotline operator, etc. But, for God’s sake, do not be complacent.