In light of the new trending hashtag on twitter #MeToo , started by Alyssa Milano, many women have begun to share their stories of harassment and assault.
This trend has been seen to have started because of the Harvey Weinstein case which, if you haven't read about it yet, is disgusting.
This trend is meant to make these assaults and harassment visible to men and women that surround us in our everyday life or across the world to show solidarity, and to hold each other accountable. Now that we know the grave effects that assault and harassment have on each individual person, what are we going to do about it? Do we continue to ignore "rape culture", or do we ignore students in University and degrade the very meaning behind "Harassment" because a reputation is at stake? Because the athlete is too invaluable? Because the teacher is renowned?
As a woman, as a girl whose family has been touched by sexual assault, and who she herself has narrowly escaped even the possibility of it happening ( but who has continuously been harassed), I am so tired of these things going in and out of "trend". The conversation is not a short conversation that can be had within a cool minute and it is done, it is an ever persevering issue that must be discussed and revisited continuously in order for us to evolve and not just talk about it, let it go, and bring it up again when another great scandal happens.
For many of us, the danger begins as early as toddler-age. It just becomes common knowledge that being a woman comes with lots and lots of complications such as the danger of being assaulted. Without even knowing so, many may grow to have extreme anxiety over something that hasn't happened yet, because it is something that does not just happen because of one drunken night, but can come to pass through family, friends, teachers, husbands, boyfriends/girlfriends, in the church, in the streets, on campuses, etc.
Now, of course, women aren't the only ones who have experienced assault or harassment. Men are involved in this too, it is just rare to hear of these cases, because according to toxic masculinity, any type of "action" is great, even if it wasn't consented to. Even so, some men don't even recognize these micro-assaults, and my belief is because many are unfamiliar with this world that women for generations have lived in. Some friends who I have spoken to, tell me stories about "weird" things that happen at work, or at school and I'm over here like "DUUUUUUUUDEEE THAT"S SEXUAL HARASSMENT", or I say things like "isn't it funny how if a guy did that, he's revealing characteristics of a predator and women are told to be careful, but if a girl does it, no one bats an eye, and that's not ok" I'm met with a confused stare and I just say " be careful for that girl, or talk things through, if she doesn't respect your boundaries, something is up" or "if it continues, report it, because it'll only get worse" . The thing is, I believe some men are genuinely unaware of the concept of being harassed or assault. Some women might even read this article and be like "please, men like the attention, they like the aggressive pursuant behavior", but does that mean we are contributing to the on going problem?
The question is: What do we do now? Where do we go from here?
Men will you keep your friends accountable? Will you call them out on their behavior? Will you believe the women in your life?
Women, will you continue to contribute to toxic masculinity? Will you believe the men in your life? Will you keep your actions, words, and thoughts in check the same way we ask of our male counterparts?
Will we as a society strive for a better understanding of each other? Will we grow to finally respect each other?