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#MeToo Movement Sparks Conversation about Sexual Assault

“If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

These sixteen words tweeted by actor and activist, Alyssa Milano, rekindled a movement that started a revolution. For a long time, women have denied incidents of sexual assault and have been ashamed into keeping these incidents a secret or consider them to be private.

The #MeToo Movement started with civil rights activist, Tarana Burke, back in 2006. When she created the Just Be Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps victims of sexual harassment and raises awareness. She gave this movement the name of “Me Too”. On October 15, this movement was publicized even more when Milano encouraged others to reply “Me Too” for any woman that has been sexually assaulted. Twitter was flooded with tweets and stories of sexual assault. Feminism Club sponsor Jennifer Blessington discussed how it spread.

“The night it came out, it really just took off like wildfire,” Blessington said.

The #MeToo Movement has changed the lives of many people for better or for worse. Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and Harvey Weinstein are just a few of the men that have allegedly participated in sexual misconduct and lost their job. Blessington explained the repercussions of their behavior and the role of the #MeToo Movement on how the allegations were addressed.

Time’s Up was founded by Hollywood celebrities to provide legal support to victims of sexual assault. This company is backed up by powerful celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon and Rashida Jones. Junior Faith Pinon described why it is important that celebrities are speaking up about this topic.

“Celebrities speaking up has very strongly impacted the #MeToo Movement,” Pinon said. “As a result of celebrities with large platforms speaking out, more people have felt empowered to share stories of sexual harassment and assault that they endured. Everyone sharing their stories are bringing to light the large scale problem of sexual assault. With the help of these celebrities, the #MeToo Movement is already revolutionary.”

The #MeToo Movement is also a movement for feminists who are looking for more equal opportunities as well as a more open society. Sophomore Amelie Buron discussed why she wanted sexual assault to become a more open discussion.

“Sexual assault is something that we should always keep talking about because if we do not it is just going to keep on happening,” Buron said. “The more we talk about it the more awareness we are raising and the more educated we are becoming so there will be less of it. The survivors will have a better chance of getting the justice they deserve.”

Based on statistics by Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, 27% of victims did not report their sexual harassment because they considered it to be a private matter. Blessington talked about why we do not discuss these things that are considered private in a woman’s life.

“We, as a culture, do not like to talk about sexuality,” Blessington said. “It makes us very uncomfortable. There is not a lot of compressive sexual education out there for everybody. I think this #MeToo Movement might be a sign that we are actually going to start talking about things like consent and what it means to find a partner that is right for you.”

A common notion is that women are getting sexually harassed due to what they are wearing. Pinon stated why this notion has kept women silent.

“Women have often stayed quiet because they have witnessed men or other women before them being ashamed and asking absurd questions like ‘Well what were they wearing?’,” Pinon said. “Or often times people do not believe them or down play their assaults and do not think it is a big enough deal to do anything about it.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, one in 71 men will be sexually assaulted in their lives. Pinon describes this common misconception that women are the only ones that are sexually assaulted.

“I think it is extremely important that men speak up about their assault,” Pinon said. “They may consider it to be weak or unmanly when in fact it takes a lot of courage in this society for them to speak, emotional expression should be normalized for men so that they feel more comfortable in doing so. It is more common than the world thinks, but men do not speak up about it because of this macho man image embedded in their brains.”

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