The #MeToo Movement And Why It Matters

The #MeToo Movement And Why It Matters

"Sexual assault and domestic violence are difficult things to talk about. Talk about them anyway." - Mariska Hargitay
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#Metoo has become an anthem in society today as a rallying cry for victims of sexual violence as they join the ever-increasing number of women and men who are coming forward to report sexual abuse. The Me Too movement actually began over 10 years ago as a movement to empower women of color from poor communities to speak out.

This year, the movement was bolstered when People magazine honored some of these whistle blowers as they named the Silence Breakers as person of the year. Musicians, engineers, actors, and laborers have come together and found that they share an unfortunate experience. These brave individuals who came forward to report their abuse opened the door to not only open a dialogue but to create a culture of acceptance and decriminalization for victims of sexual violence.

Harvey Weinstein was well known for his sexual exploitation in Hollywood, but people just accepted that if you wanted to be successful, you had to “pay your dues.” It was a source of awkward comedic material at the 2013 Oscar’s when Seth MacFarlane joked about Weinstein’s abuse of young women in the movie industry. However now that the flood gates have been opened for disclosing abuse, it is no laughing matter.

Many well known and loved celebrities, politicians, business men, and news anchors have been exposed for their sexual misconduct. People who were abused for years kept their silence because we live in a culture that historically does not protect victims of sexual violence. In isolation, one person’s voice is easily ignored. All of them together can not be so easily silenced.

This newfound kinship among victims is empowering as we push for social change to hold sexual offenders accountable. While we aren’t seeing prosecution in the high profile cases yet, many offenders are losing their careers which is helpful to reduce their access to future victims. In the past, the victims were the ones to pay the price for not “going along with” the program. Things that once would have seemed ridiculous are no longer shocking. Matt Lauer having a button to lock women into his office, Roy Moore being banned from a mall for soliciting teenaged girls, and even Charlie Rose walking around naked on set of the PBS news show are just not shocking anymore.

These victims are finally being believed. Even the President of the United States was elected in spite of his own admissions of grabbing women inappropriately and boasting of taking advantage of women. But several brave women have still come forward to tell their stories and are calling for Congress to investigate the allegations.

#Metoo is a battle cry that will continue to pick up more followers. Time magazine’s cover purposely omits the face of one of the women to represent the face of more women who are yet to come forward. The stigma of being a victim is finally being replaced with accountability of offenders. Thank you Silence Breakers for opening the door for others.

Cover Image Credit: Long Reads

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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I'm Not Voting, And Guess What, That Is OK

To all of the recent political endorsements by celebrities and Facebook posts telling me I should register to vote, I'm not voting.

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I am not the type of person to normally ever write a Facebook post related to politics, yet here I am dedicating a whole article to it. Or rather about voting itself, not my political affiliation. For the most part, I like to keep my political outlooks to myself instead of broadcasting them to all of my friends, family, coworkers, and that handful of people I do not actually know but I accepted their friend request anyway. Instead, I grace this group of people with animal videos because it doesn't cause any friction, the videos are always light-hearted, and there are already so many other people posting about the next election.

But tonight that changed. I saw a post about how people who do not vote should be fined. I do not know why this ignited something in me, but it did. I have no problem ignoring every other person telling me to register to vote or vote a hundred times on my feed, but charging me a fine for exercising my right crossed a line.

Quite frankly, I do not identify as a liberal democrat or conservative republican so I should not be subjected to vote for either. I choose not to vote because I do not support either side of the political spectrum and I do not think any of the candidates are true to what I want in the future of my country. There are some ideas I like from Democrats as well as some ideas I like from Republicans, but because of the political climate in recent years, the political parties are becoming more polarized than ever with their ideas, and instead of seeking a moderate stance, are becoming more extreme. I understand that voting is seen as a civic responsibility that comes with being a U.S. citizen, but I have the right to vote not the obligation to vote, and people should respect that decision.

Can you imagine amending the constitution to include penalties for not voting? Where is the democracy in forcing citizens to the ballots via scare tactics? I just do not want to be forced into voting or supporting something that I do not believe in. I will vote when there is a candidate that earns my vote and that I support instead of voting just to vote.

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