Movement against sexual harassment gains power, provides voice

Gail Finch

A voice speaks up in a crowd of silence, giving others the courage to speak for themselves and tell their stories. Soon, a flood of voices, stories, anecdotes, accusations, and more come crashing in. They bring attention to one of the biggest issues facing America. There’s power in numbers.

Sexual harassment, assault, and rape are difficult subjects to talk about. It’s a traumatic experience for people who go through it, and it ruins lives. Women have been speaking out about it recently with movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, telling their stories and creating a dialogue in order to stop things like this from happening. In a world where women are discouraged from coming forward with accusations of rape and sexual assault, these movements are integral to fixing a problem that has been put on the back burner for years.

Several skeptics of the movement have been asking the question, “why did she wait until now to come forward?” It’s mainly men and right-wing politicians that ask this question, and what they don’t realize is that women oftentimes are not able to come forward. They’re scared for their lives because the ones who assaulted them have either threatened them or they feel like their story won’t be heard because of all of the stigma around rape and sexual assault.

Victim blaming is a rampant issue. When a woman gets sexually assaulted, the first question people will ask is “what was she wearing?”. They dismiss her trauma because she was wearing a skirt that might have been a little too short for their liking or was wearing a top that was a little too low cut; she was asking for it if she was wearing something like that. The thing is, it doesn’t matter what she was wearing when she was assaulted. In many experiences, women were wearing normal clothing at the time of their assault, and even if they weren’t that doesn’t invite someone to make a move on them when they’re not consenting.

Another reason why so many women are coming forward is because so many of them are from the entertainment industry, the people society looks up to and idolize. Many Hollywood actors were accused of rape/sexual assault within the past year, so some people are skeptical about the validity of the claims due to a handful of them being from over a decade ago. The entertainment business, especially in the earlier days, has always been a hard place for women to work. The men accused of being rapists and the like have usually been in a position of power over the women accusing them, so they don’t come forward because they don’t want to ruin their career just as it’s getting started.

Several people who are skeptical have some right to be. There are too many instances of false accusations in the heat of the moment, whether it be out of peer pressure or revenge. Rape allegations can ruin the lives of everyone involved if not handled with care. People get fired prematurely or their families get torn apart over these kinds of things, but immediately discrediting someone’s story because of a few people who took a lie too far is a horrifying reality that needs to be stopped.

I know that women are not the only people who get raped and sexually assaulted. The sexual assault of men does need to be addressed, but as of this moment, it is a topic for another day. We need to fix one problem before we try to fix anything else. Movements like #MeToo are giving people a voice so that eventually the problem will be resolved, to an extent. The problem won’t ever go away for good, but minimizing, and raising awareness are the first steps.