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#MeToo: Women Speak Up on Sexual Harassment

By Azriel ReShel on Monday October 16th, 2017

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The Silence has Broken

Women around the world are taking a stand against sexual abuse by putting #MeToo on their social media posts and personal profiles.

Thousands and thousands of women have changed their status to #MeToo on Twitter, in the wake of actress Alyssa Milano’s post yesterday, about sexual assault and harassment. The actress–who is passionate about women’s rights–explained in her post that if people who had experienced abuse tweeted ‘me too’ it might “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”  Women, and some men, are openly sharing their experiences of sexual assault and the hashtag is spreading like wild fire across social media. People are tagging their profiles to indicate that they too have been the victims of sexual harassment or abuse.

Lies, Deceit and Sexual Entitlement

The trend comes after many people took to Twitter to speak out against Hollywood film producer and former film studio executive, Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assault on multiple women. The collective outrage over this latest case of alleged sexual abuse from an extremely famous man of influence, has popped the lid straight off the pressure cooker of lies, deceit and sexual entitlement, and women around the world are now speaking up and sharing their stories in an unprecedented way. Actresses Debra Messing, Ana Paquin and Anika Noni-Rose are among the thousands who are taking part in the #MeToo trend, and many women are courageously sharing their painful experiences. 

Over 30 women have so far come forward with accusations against Weinstein and this has opened up a wider discussion about the problem of sexual assault in entertainment and other industries. The 65 year-old Hollywood film producer is a massive figure in the film world; with his brother he co-founded Miramax, and his film productions have won 81 Oscars and been nominated for over 300.

I am not broken“It was not my fault. I am not broken. I’m growing strong. I refuse silence.” – Survivor

Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual sex. Over two dozen women, including actresses Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rose McGowan, have made a number of accusations against him. London Metropolitan Police and New York authorities are investigating the claims against him. The disgraced Hollywood mogul has since been fired, lost his wife and his membership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

I Said NO!

Allegations of sexual assault are not unusual in Hollywood. Other famous sexual abuse scandals surrounded Bill Cosby and Woody Allen. In fact, sexual abuse is part and parcel of the culture of many workplaces, even if the official line says something different. The issue is that men of power and influence get away with it, or have the leverage to make or break a woman’s career, and women are often silenced or tainted by PR arsenals. Sexual assault is much more widespread than we think. And perhaps there’s a lot more for men to consider around consent–a woman who is afraid, and forced into a corner either literally, or metaphorically, is certainly not having consensual sex.

#MeToo is an all too painful reality for so many women in the world today.

America’s largest anti-sexual violence organisation, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), says that every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and every 8 minutes that victim is a child. And only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison. RAINN also says that 9 out of every 10 victims of rape are female. It’s fair to say that these are the reported abuses. There would most certainly be many more unreported instances of both sexual harassment and assault. Too often young women are frightened to speak up and also believe they won’t be heard, because really, that is what has happened to thousands and thousands of women around the globe. When you’re not in a position of power, people don’t listen.

The Power of Many Voices

#MeToo is an all too painful reality for so many women in the world today. Women who have been leered at, groped, forced, silenced, threatened and belittled, we hear you and we stand with you. As a young BBC journalist I endured lascivious suggestions from an editor who was often groping my bottom. I most certainly wasn’t the only one subjected to this sort of negative attention, but he got away with it and probably a lot more. I’m not unique and this wasn’t the only sexual harassment I endured, it was one of at least dozens of different encounters. Most of my female friends have experienced all sorts of sexual harassment and abuse too.

This outpouring on social media is a new beginning. An opportunity to acknowledge and release what women have had to endure. We cannot walk forward without this acknowledgement and the healing of the shame, stigma and torment of so, so many women. Perhaps the time has finally come where the truth can arise, we can start the conversations, and expose the consciousness that treats women as objects and sexual playthings. Women’s voices need to be heard and let’s hope #MeToo can plant the seeds needed to change the culture of sexual entitlement that exists across the board professionally and elsewhere.

Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace are not just about Harvey Weinstein… We must change things in general. We must do better for women everywhere. – Alyssa Milano

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Azriel ReShel

Writer, Editor, Yoga Teacher & Healing Facilitator

 

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