Why #MeToo Is So Crucial

Why #MeToo Is So Crucial

Understanding why it is so important that we enlighten others on our experiences with sexual misconduct.
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I don't think there was a clear moment when I realized there is something fundamentally different in how society treats men and women. The distinctions have been so subtle, so discreet, that I've always known of their existence, but knew not of how to examine them without sounding foolish, like I'm "reaching" for an issue that just does not exist. Being the outspoken feminist chick isn't so palatable to all. The word "feminist" itself often leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths. But I don't care about being easy to swallow, or being "tasteful." I need to speak my truth, even it challenges what is acceptable and what people are comfortable with.

To understand the divide between boys and girls, you are forced to delve back into the earliest memories of childhood and examine the most seemingly innocuous details. I remember hearing the mantra "boys will be boys" when one of my male classmates would mistreat a female classmate, pulling at her pigtails, and pushing her down under the guise of being playful. Us girls were taught to be ladylike, to cross our ankles and close our legs, hide our shoulders in school, or face the consequences of detention or being sent home. We would be told to cover up, to be quiet, and to calm down when we expressed our emotions. Our concerns and moments of excitability were dismissed when a boy would ask, "Are you on your period?" Little things like this, such tiny inconsistencies that on the surface seem inconsequential, lead to universal experiences most women can agree are quite detrimental.

It starts with innocent teasing, or sidelong comments, but suddenly you find yourself at age nine shaking in fear because your older neighbour boy decided to be too forceful when you played with him. Or when you're then eleven and are being catcalled by a truck full strange men while walking down the street with your cousin, their whistles ringing through your mind even today. Flash forward to middle school and your female friends' breasts are groped in a game called "swooping" played by the boys. It progresses when you are seventeen, at your first party, when a boy is grabbing at you all night even though the room is swaying and you tried to brush him off. And then you're on a cruise ship, and a middle-aged man, who earlier was bombarding you with sexist and intrusive questions, gropes your bottom and jokes about it to a crowd of people, unapologetic and unabashed. Suddenly you find yourself in college holding your best friend as she sobs into her pillow after a boy took her inebriation as consent for sex. It is likely you will find that by at least nineteen years old, you will have lost count of all the times you or others you know were made to feel small or uncomfortable at the hands of a man. This holds true for myself, and I have been fortunate to not have experienced anything worse. But so many women have not had it as easy.

Sexual assault is what 1 in 3 women will face in her lifetime. 1 in 5 will experience attempted or completed rape. The fact that maltreatment and assault is so common is alarming and absolutely despicable -- yet hardly anything is done to stop it.

In light of recent events where numerous celebrities have alleged rape and sexual assault at the hands of prominent film producer Harvey Weinstein, multitudes of women have shared their stories of assault in solidarity with one another. By using the viral hashtag #MeToo, women have brought light to an issue that has been swept under the mat for far too long. It seems that every time a universally known celebrity or person of power is reprimanded for their abusive behavior, society will express an uproar of dissent, yet almost suddenly stop talking about it when it fades from the limelight... that is, until the next celebrity does something profoundly sh*tty. It's almost as if protesting sexual misconduct is only worth doing so when it's "relevant."

NEWS FLASH: IT HAPPENS TO MORE PEOPLE THAN JUST A-LIST CELEBRITIES.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone. It can happen to your sister, your mother, your close female friends. It can happen to the woman you see at the grocery store, the doctor who worked her a** off to put herself through medical school, the high-ranking government official, the woman who sits next to you on the bus. It can happen to the women who walk around wearing nothing but thin tops and booty shorts; it can happen to the women who wear turtlenecks and ankle-length skirts. It doesn't matter who she is, what she wears, or what she looks like. It is still a very real possibility it will happen to her, and she is definitely not "asking for it". Sexual assault is not some outlandish, anomalous occurrence that happens to a select few. It is everywhere. But so many are willingly blind to this, because they are simply uncomfortable with changing their outlook and challenging what is "normal".

Of course, most men are not abusive, predatory creatures who prey on women. I have known so many men who made me feel safe and valid as both a person and woman. In part with this, women are not all frail beings who are always the only ones mistreated, as there are double-standards with both sexes, not solely just women. Men are mistreated in different ways, too, and even themselves can be victims of sexual assault, which is equally deplorable. To say that women are the only ones who will experience this is erasing and is not representative of all, as 1 in 71 men will be raped or sexually assaulted.



However, I focus my argument on women due to the startling number of us who are sexually assaulted - 1. IN. 3. Get a group of your best girlfriends together and most will digress their accounts of what happened to them. Yet, so many are made to feel as if their experiences are not worth coming forward with, as though they aren't worth making an issue over. So many feel helpless and voiceless from the lack of action or concern that takes place in response to sexual assault. People are still victim-blamed and made to feel ashamed of their traumatic experiences, and often times are even ostracized from their social groups.

To combat this, take the time to listen to the feelings and stories of victims. Assure them that they are heard, and do not push them to speak or act on anything they aren't ready for. It is important that they understand that you support them. No one ASKS to be assaulted, and assuming so with the idea that one was "asking for it" is disgusting. Men, hold your closest friends, your acquaintances, and your family accountable for being predatory. Disown those you know who do complete these acts -- defending them leaves you on the side of the oppressor and exemplifies that you don't hold sexual assault to such a high consequence. Speak up when you see something occurring that you know shouldn't. Don't dismiss someone who is in need of help. Parents, teach your children from an early age how to respect women and all people as a whole so as to prevent future mistreatment from occurring. Raise your children to the same standards, despite their gender. Speak up on issues such as this, even if your children are young, so that they know the gravity of how wrong sexual assault is.

And to anyone who has been victimized, assaulted, or raped:
You are heard. You are loved. Your feelings are valid and important. You are not to blame for something you could not control. And most of all, you are resilient, and your trauma does not in any way mar or diminish your worth.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by sexual assault, please speak to a counselor or someone you feel comfortable with, and if you are ready, I encourage you to pursue legal help so the perpetrator is brought to justice and further assaults can be eschewed. I hope to live in a world someday where it is okay to speak up on these issues without it being taboo or invalidated. Most of all, what I would love most is to live freely without having fear that myself or anyone else will be victimized.


I understand that the world is a dangerous place, and since the beginning of humanity, atrocities and injustices such as assault have taken place. Despite what has been true of the past or even currently plagues our world, it is up to us to make positive change for the future by enlightening ourselves and progressing as a human race. By advancing the narrative against sexual assault and misconduct, humanity is taking a step in the right direction and is setting the stage for future generations that treat sexual assault as the obscenity that it truly is.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Why Nursing School Friends Are So Vital

Pun intended.

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When I started nursing school, I knew it would be difficult. I wasn't naive. I heard the stories. I knew what I was getting into…to a certain degree.

It was everything I thought it would be and more. The highs were higher and the lows were lower. The thing you realize quickly in nursing is that it's not something you can achieve on your own. You have to have a support system. It's how you survive. It can feel like you're on your own because you have to perform the skills and make the grades, but really, there are so many friends standing behind you pushing you through.

I've seen it over and over again. I've been a part of it, witnessed it and had help myself. The truth is, even the most intelligent students need help in some sort of way. It might be hard to realize it when you're so inwardly focused, but when you look around you, everyone is walking the same path. They just have different strengths and weaknesses. It's an incredible thing when others use their personal strengths to offset your weaknesses. Nursing friends see in you what you don't see in yourself. Nursing friends share your passions, sleepless nights, early mornings, stress, panic attacks, victories, and failures. Nursing friends are your own personal cheerleaders.

It's no secret that we deal with some pretty gross stuff. Who else can you count on when you're walking down the unit trying to find an extra pair of hands to help you change the clothes of a morbidly obese patient who's covered from shoulders to ankles in their stool? Your nursing buds.

What about when your patient goes into v-fib (ventricular fibrillation), and you need someone to relief on chest compressions? Your rock star nurse friends are there to lend a hand or two.

Or what about when you are scrubbing into a C-section for the first time and you're kind of, sort of, secretly concerned you might get queasy or faint? Your nursing squad will remind you how tough you are. They'll assist you as quickly as possible and when you are finished washing your hands a thousand times, they'll make you laugh or smile. They'll always be there to help you with dignity, support, love, and encouragement.

Your nursing friends know which supply closet you go hide in when you are about to lose it or when class is so long it's giving you a headache so they pass you some Tylenol. Nursing friends are the backbone of your nursing school experience. I always love it that whenever I need hand sanitizer, Tylenol/Advil/Motrin or even a Band-Aid, someone always has it.

Even if you don't talk every day, or you take different class times, there is always someone waving hello or asking how you're holding up. You are all so different, but at the same time, you feel like you're surrounded by so many who are just like you. They care as much as you do. They love as much as you do. And the best part? They just love you. Even on your worst days. There will be times when you trip up on the easy stuff you know that you know, but they'll be there with open arms telling you about when they were in the same place. They are the ones who “fight in the trenches" with you. They'll carry you when you can't keep going, and you'll do the same. No woman or man left behind.

Nursing friends are incredible lifelong blessings. So, remember to thank them every once in a while. Keep cheering each other on, keep fighting together and keep reminding each other that the end goal is closer than it seems.

Cover Image Credit: Maddy Cagle

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The Truth About Responsibility

Part three of a five-part series on leadership.

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In this five-part series, I'm not going to give you a definition of leadership. I'm not even going to try to come up with one on my own, because your idea of leadership is exactly that, YOURS. My only hope is that my ideas can help you better understand your idea of leadership.

By now, you may have noticed that these articles are structured in a specific way. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, go check out the first two articles in this five-part series. I tell you why a respective trait, this week that trait is responsibility, is so much more than its definition. Then go on to explain why it's crucial for being a successful leader and leave you with something to ponder.

However, now and in the future, I am going to add a general example to help solidify my point and allow you to see the full picture. These examples are for your use. Interject characters or people you know into the scenarios to better illustrate it for yourself. Maybe you've been in one of these situations, I would love to hear about it.

Part 3: What is responsibility? And what does it have to do with leadership?

Responsibility is similar to leadership in that everyone you ask will probably explain it with a story rather than a definition. This makes sense because it is just too broad to be accurately defined in one statement. I could probably come up with some ideas for stories to illustrate my point about responsibility, but I don't think that would be helpful to you.

Google would tell you that responsibility is "the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something". I actually like this definition! But to better illustrate my point, try this little thought experiment. Think back to the last time you had "a duty to deal with something".

What was that something? Who charged you with that duty? Was it really yours to deal with?

Too often we think of responsibility in mundane terms. Some may say that responsibility is shown by getting an assignment done or showing up to an important meeting on time. I would generally agree that doing these mundane activities show responsibility, but only in a mundane sense. The completion of a duty that someone else charges you with is just too simple.

Think about responsibility. It is so much more than just getting things done. It is so much bigger than an assignment or a meeting.

Responsibility is a mentality. Responsibility is a way of life.

You should really be thinking about responsibility as an ideal which you strive for, not a box that you check. Welp, I was responsible today! I made all of my meetings, check! I finished all of my work, check! Guess I don't need to be responsible tomorrow!

See how well that works out.

Responsibility is about taking ownership of what you do, in all situations. Everything you say and everything you do. The things that you are proud of and those which make you feel ashamed. Each one of your successes, as well every single one of your failures and shortcomings. That last one isn't easy, I know.

Responsibility is also seeing things through to completion. If you start a project, you finish it. If you set a meeting, you make it there on time. If you say you will do something, you do it. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Responsibility is completing a duty which you charged yourself with, regardless of that duty.

But when you start thinking this way, day in and day out, responsibility becomes natural. It becomes the way of life you want it to be, ubiquitous and easy to see. This is when leadership comes into play.

Being more responsible in your everyday life will make you a better leader.

Regardless of the situation, responsibility will carry over. It will also spread. As more and more people see you taking ownership and seeing things through to completion, they will follow your example. Friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family will appreciate the fact that you actually care enough to do what you say you are going to do.

Leading by example, isn't that the best form of leadership?

Here is a scenario for you to view through your own eyes. You are part of a group which is charged with completing a project in a given amount of time. For simplicity, say your boss has appointed one person to be the "leader", charged with scheduling meetings and holding members accountable to the work they say they will do.

As time goes on, this "leader" is often late to meetings or doesn't show at all. This leader often forgets his duties and brings nothing of value to the meetings. This so-called leader is not being responsible, and the group is suffering. You are no closer to your goal then the day the group was formed.

This appointed leader is not showing leadership because he or she is not being responsible. Why should anyone else show up on time or complete what they said they were going to if the leader doesn't do the same? Change starts with you setting the example of responsibility.

Whether you are in the office, on the assembly line, or at home, being responsible will change you and those around you. It will make life better because it makes life easier. Just imagine how much better your life would be if every person who made a commitment to you, followed through on that commitment.

To end and to drive this point home, we will get a little meta. The next time someone breaks a promise or cancels a meeting, accept it for what it is: a lack of responsibility. Then, when it's your turn to keep a commitment, keep it. Don't be petty by saying "Well they did it to me, why can't I do it to them?". A cancellation for a cancellation makes the whole world uninformed.

Lead by example by taking ownership of your commitments and seeing them through to the end. People will respect your responsibility and return it in kind.

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