The last calendar year has been the year of the survivor.
The #metoo movement was a digital crumbling of Troy. I kept news sites perpetually open at work so I could glimpse the daily—even hourly—revelations, accusations, and triumphs.
It was satisfying and empowering. At last, the world was recognizing what has needed to be recognized for so long.
It was also sad. I feared, as I was watching those streaming headlines, that this could not last forever, like college or a doomed relationship. I still have this fear.
That's why I'm urging everyone—men, women, and non-binary individuals—to not give up on the #metoo movement. Your eyes, hearts, and voices are needed now more than ever before.
#metoo isn't over. It's just begun.
This is not a whim.
Time and again we see these labor contractions of social issues.
For a whirlwind week, month, or year, society looks long and hard at its underbelly. We breathe sighs of relief and take to the streets when this happens for race, for love, and for citizen safety and well-being.
Eventually, time eases the sharp corners. Protests taper off. Legislation does not pass. Politicians and family members turn their heads. What happens to all of those narratives? What happened to the fight?
The #metoo movement is not a false contraction. It is not a spasm without a birth. It revealed the terrifying prevalence of sexual, emotional, and biased abuse that threatens more men and women than have been commonly accepted.
How can this spotlighting be a whim? This is not a mere feminist movement, a temporary pushback on morés that tell us we should be skinnier or count more calories or Weight Watcher points. This is the start of global change. Let's take the whimsy out of the headlines and see it as such.
#MeToo has community. Now let's do something about that.
Social media marketers know the power of hashtags. Now we all know the power of small words to bring people together.
The #metoo hashtag is concise and devastating. It doesn't need to say anything else, although we value, cherish, and support survivors' stories, experiences, and healing. Within the span of a week, women united in a shared narrative.
This is where the #metoo movement has brought us. We are standing on the top of a mountain as a force. It's heart-breaking and empowering to see how many are a part of this community.
Change begins with community. Nations go to war once they have mobilized their resources.
There is always time and space for claiming a #metoo. But there is greater urgency in taking steps with that community for palpable change.
Hollywood isn't everything.
I respect and honor the women in Hollywood and prominent media who have claimed their voices and sought justice. I am proud to see these women still making the most of the #metoo movement.
But Hollywood isn't everything. It's not the full story.
We need plebeian voices too. What about my best friend? What about my grandmother? What about my future daughter, my neighbor, the high school girl down the street?
Women who do not have the luxury of social status and a red carpet also deserve to be on the front lines.
Their voices are just as valuable. To move forward, the #metoo movement needs to walk the suburbs, the ghettos, the offices, the airports, without discrimination.
Let's commit to becoming aware.
So how do we keep the #metoo movement going? Some people say more rallies. Let's mobilize, let's march, let's call Congress.
Yes, let's keep doing all of those things. Political activism is alive and it is fierce and worthy.
But the power of this hashtag is fully expressed in the most intimate, private places. I'm talking our homes. I'm talking our closets and cars.
We need to commit to becoming aware of sexism, harassment, abuse, and assault—and cultivating this awareness in others. Let's keep talking to our daughters, wives, mothers, and nieces, and let's not shy away from honesty.
Let's not shield them from the news either. Let's show them what is out there.
We need to keep the dialogue open between all genders and all geographies. Most importantly, we need to create more safe spaces for survivors to share their stories and feel heard.
Committing to being stewards of the #metoos around us is the vital task.
The stories matter most.
The #metoo movement has been sensationalized. It has been alternately dismissed and revered. It has been generalized.
I'm here to remind everyone that the survivors' and victims' stories still matter. No matter where this movement heads—and I hope it keeps heading up this current hill—we cannot neglect the voices within this movement itself.
Active listening and safe, frank, nurturing dialogue are all imperatives. If you are a survivor (or if you know a survivor), commit to validating your experience. Don't let it get lost in the headway.
The future of the #metoo movement lies in the nature of our commitment to what it has to say, and who composes it. It is my hope that even though the future is uncertain and the stakes are daunting, we can make that commitment unflinchingly.