“Every time someone speaks [against sexual assault], it creates a crack in that wall.” –Marai Larasai (executive director of Imkaan, an organization dedicated to talking about violence against women and girls of minority)
Disclaimer: This post may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so feel free to exit out and go check out some of my more light-hearted posts!
A few months ago, people were more or less stunned when the New York Times released a story detailing years of accusations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein, a film mogul in Hollywood. Several actresses, including Ashley Judd (a power feminist!), came forward against him. And it didn’t stop there. More and more well-known women in Hollywood came forward with assault allegations against many men (Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey, just to name a few) in Hollywood. The women were applauded for their courage in coming forward and once the #MeToo, originally started by Tarana Burke in 2006, was revived; it went viral with women and men everywhere using it to spread awareness, share their stories, and stand in solidarity against sexual assault.
It’s awful that this conversation is just now getting a kick start in 2017, and disgusting that sexual assault is still happening to 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men, and that’s only in colleges. A lot of times the victims are left ashamed and silenced for fear of what will happen if they speak out. The voices of Hollywood actresses coming forward has helped and inspired people everywhere to tell their own experiences and expose people and industries for how they really are.
An event that really showed me how powerful and great this movement against sexual assault is, was the Golden Globes this past weekend. All the talk that has happened lately about the need for change in how people view and treat assault and its victims really started up with the Harvey Weinstein case in Hollywood. The solidarity that is being felt and growing between sexual assault victims and allies is because of those actresses in Hollywood who came forward, so when TimesUp, an organization calling for people to finally do something about assault, violence, and abuse, called on all the men and women attending the Golden Globes to wear black to show solidarity; I was living for it!
*Although I would like to mention, some of the men that wore black to the Golden Globes are still working in movies that contain and/or directed by men who have sexual assault accusations against them. This is something that needs to stop ASAP, as well.*
There was also an actress brings an activist initiative, where people like Emma Watson and Michelle Williams invited women’s rights activists to come to the event with them. As I was watching the red carpet interviews, it was so cool to hear from activists like Marai Larasi (exec. Director of Imkaan), Tarana Burke (founder of the #MeToo movement), and Monica Ramirez (spoke out against sexual assault in the farming industry) on their thoughts about what is happening and how they are changing the way assault is handled.
This is exactly what I talked about in my Seeing Past Your Privilege post: people with big platforms and audiences (like celebrities) lifting up the people who need change and our fighting for it. Using your platform like that and wearing all black, especially to fight against sexual assault, is amazing and exactly how I believe platforms should be used.
It’s so important to take in the room full of men and women in all black at the Golden Globes, and apply that solidarity into our own lives. The fight against sexual assault is not a one person fight, but an every person fight. People are beginning to realize that, and are working towards justice for women and men affected by it.
In this day and age, social media can be such a great and powerful tool when used to bring people together under a human rights cause like sexual assault. Because of media platforms, Times Up (the organization I talked about earlier) has received over 16 million dollars in donations in 16 weeks to help/work with advocates and help assault victims, especially those in the workplace. Their main goal is to enable more women and men to access the legal system to hold the wrongdoers accountable.
Using your own social media to help spread awareness on issues like sexual assault is incredibly important and needed. I challenge all of you to do so and however big or small your blog or social media platform is, start conversations and educate your followers and readers on what’s going on, why it’s important, and how they can help.
Things to Remember About Sexual Assault/Harassment:
- 1 in 5 women experience it in their lifetime.
- It is never ever EVER the victim’s fault, no matter what they’re wearing because no one is “asking for it.”
- Men can be raped and sexually assaulted too.
- Believe your friend. Support them. Don’t doubt, shame, or fault them when they come to you.
- No means NO and saying nothing at all means no as well!
Also, people somehow always find a way to bring sexual assault into politics, but in no way is that okay! It happens to people of all different political backgrounds, and solidarity is not only for one party, but rather all of the parties. Support should be given by anyone and everyone, no matter who you vote for, because people who have gone through the awful experience of someone holding their power over them to abuse them deserve and need it.
Quote from Oprah’s Speech from the Golden Globes:
“For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. I want all of the girls watching here now to know, that a new day is on the horizon.”
Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Donate to Times Up: https://www.timesupnow.com/
Oprah’s Speech in Full: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN5HV79_8B8
Other Sexual Assault, Violence, and Abuse Organizations and Support