It was 5:50 p.m. on a busy street in downtown Los Angeles. Every business was open, people walked the streets, cars were stopped, parked, driving, and turning all around me. I froze. I threw my hand down, attempted to throw a right hook, and screamed at him. I followed him, adrenaline pumping, tears welling in his eyes. Over my dead body would I ever allow a low-life to determine if I was a victim. I wanted revenge. I was dazed and confused, and I didn't know my campus' emergency number by heart. Was there one? Because I do remember being on hold for a while. It's hard to remember everything when you're listening to an obscure ad for 10 minutes on the ONLY line you are told to call when you need to report something—for speed purposes. I called a friend nearby instead, because every man that witnessed what I just endured circled me on their bikes while verbally sexually assaulting me. I am a strong girl with athletic genes and a course of self-defense under my belt, but somehow I was still powerless.
The #MeToo movement truly changed the conversations we are having in our contemporary society. Because women in the media have started to come forward and direct attention towards traumas they have endured and suppressed for years, women everywhere are finally feeling supported enough to tell their tales as well. As proud as I am to be a woman during this movement, I am still disheartened. The dichotomy of this time in our lives is truly perplexing. With every woman that speaks her truth, I am elated that she can finally put to rest the secret she has wanted to uncover for years, maybe even decades. But as I watch the words flow harmoniously with her tears, I reach the inevitable harsh truth that we cannot ignore. Her words make us cry. Her monologue has yielded hundreds of thousands of retweets, likes, shares, reposts, quote tweets, and actions alike. But best case, he is taken down a peg—socially or maybe professionally if we are lucky. This movement has united us as women to stop hiding the wrongs that men have committed against us, but it is time to blossom from this movement. This is not enough. We are united, but we are united more and more because these traumas are not being stopped.
Our words have garnered support through the written and verbal word. We are going to the authorities, we are correctly validating each other's pain, we are seeking a new world. We have worked as a unit to unite against sexual harassment, but it is time to shift focus. You're Next. To the men who touch us inappropriately at parties because they're "interested", you're next. To the men who mock feminism and attempt to pit men as a minority, you're next. To the men who are our friends that are "good guys", but still like to joke about rape and the idiotic theory of feminism being exclusive, you're next. To the adults, men and women, that ask us about our clothing or tell us "see, that's why you shouldn't do ____" rather than recognizing the OFFENDER's wrongdoing, you're next. I have grown tired of men turning our traumas into a reason to be coddled and pitied. Just because you haven't raped someone, doesn't mean you're a good guy. Just because you bought me dinner, doesn't mean I owe you physical affection. Just because you decided to DM me something nice or tell me I'm pretty, doesn't mean I am supposed to match your energy. I am sick of receiving a checklist of things I should do, rather than making it known nationally, globally, culturally what men SHOULD NOT DO.
I challenge my fellow women to take action. Inappropriate, unsolicited touching IS sexual assault. I deleted the words "sexually assaulted" in my tweet and attempted to replace it with "groped". That conscious action reminded me of the state we are in. Even during our #MeToo time, women (including myself) are afraid to call sexual assault, sexual assault. We have basked in our media spotlight as the powerful, strong beings we are. But now, it is time to spotlight our offenders. It is time to direct attention towards the evil side. We are no longer tolerating being told to cover up, stay in past 6 p.m. (or sundown), not drink, not drive at night, not this, and not that. It is time to DEMAND that men do not grope us, do not threaten us when we decline their advances, to not belittle us when we say something made us feel powerless, to not do this, that, and everything else you all have gotten away with for so long. To the men who read this and want to ask me why I am only addressing men, I ask you to open your eyes. The men that are not the target of my words are the ones who do not need a disclaimer and that know I do not think all men are the same. While you are offended by my powerful words, I am offended by being groped, laughed at, mocked, and threatened. You are annoyed by women tweeting "thank u, next", while I am annoyed by every man foul-mouthing me for not reciprocating his advances just because he was "nice" about it. And while you read this with anger in your heart, keep in mind that you're next.