Recently, more than 40 women have come forward accusing Harvey Weinstein, one the most powerful Hollywood film producers, of sexual harassment and abuse. This triggered women across America to come forward on social media and share their experiences of sexual violence.
This is not just an issue centered in Hollywood; it is happening everywhere. It can and does happen to your friends, family, neighbors and peers. You see them and you know them.
Being sexually abused comes in many different forms: rape, molestation, verbal assault. Women stay silent because they often feel ashamed, are encouraged not to report their assault, or believe that no one will listen to them. Women should not have to fear repercussions if they do speak out.
On Oct. 15, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted that everyone should post the hashtag #Metoo so people would know how problematic sexual abuse is. However, #Metoo originated through the youth organization called Just Be Inc. in 2006.
Just Be “focuses on the health, well-being and wholeness of young women of color,” according to their website. The organization helps teens and pre-teen girls learn about empowerment and issues they may face in the world.
Tarana Burke, founder of Just Be, started this movement as a youth worker when she listened to children’s stories of sexual abuse. She wanted to help these children by starting a movement called “Me Too” to help survivors share their stories.
The women who have shared their #Metoo stories are heroes for speaking out about their abusers. If you are a women who is still carrying your #Metoo privately, we support you. Just know that you are brave and your voice is still valid.
This hashtag is not geared toward attacking or accusing men, but is a means to shed light on a problem that has made women believe they should be silent. This hashtag is not about women seeking attention, but it is proof that sexual abuse happens every day.
The attention should be focused on the abuser, not the victim.
#Metoo has been seen across all platforms of social media and allows women to share their stories of sexual abuse or harassment. This hashtag destigmatizes sexual violence and helps victims to remember that it is never their fault.
According to the VSU 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were 33 rape cases reported within 500 yards of VSU campus properties in the past three years. We need to start making a change within our community and stop the perpetuation of rape culture.
As a student body, we need to start making drastic changes to the way we treat those who are willing to go public with their mistreatment. We need to listen to survivors’ stories, and become familiar with VSU’s Title IX by identifying the following ways VSU is failing survivors of sexual abuse. If we take these small steps as students, we can create a movement that will not be silenced.
This is not the end of women refusing to stay silent, it is just the beginning. Are you listening?
This editorial was written by a member of the editorial staff and expresses the general opinion of The Spectator.