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#MeToo milestones: one year later, still fighting

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Thousands of women take to the streets to say #MeToo.

Thousands of women take to the streets to say #MeToo.

Photo by photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo by photo courtesy of Flickr

Thousands of women take to the streets to say #MeToo.

Natalie Becker, R3 Op-Ed Editor

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On Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, at 1:21 p.m. Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” More than 66,000 replies later, a movement exploded.

The #MeToo movement fights against sexual harassment and assault. It gives survivors a platform to tell their story and emphasize how widespread sexual harassment and assault really are. Milano’s tweet went viral, bringing women’s stories out of the dark and shining a light on the reality and prevalence of sexual offenses.

Tarana Burke, an activist from Harlem, launched this movement a decade ago with an aim to protect underprivileged women of color against sexual abuse. Long before the movement reached social media, her goal was to encourage women to say, “I’m not alone and I’m not ashamed.” Milano resurfaced the two-word movement last year, sparking the question: What has the #MeToo movement accomplished in the past year?

“It’s completely changed the conversation,” said senior Fiona Gillen. “These women in high positions of power have given other women a space to say something.”
We saw the impact of #MeToo immediately. Just months after The New York Times published its investigative piece, “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades” in October 2017, allegation after allegation came flooding in—ultimately ending the Hollywood producer’s career.

Senior Lauren Kamienski said, “These women are coming out years later because they were probably afraid, but with this movement, women don’t have to be afraid anymore.”
Within the past year, the #MeToo movement has allowed thousands of women to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault by doing just what Burke had hoped it would do 10 years ago: create a platform for women to use their voices and stand against sexual assault.

However, the movement has also shown women what else can happen when they come forward and say “me too.” On Sept. 14, 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual harassment against now Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, became public. After three weeks of emotional testimonies from Ford herself, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

An event that occurred over 30 years ago still affects Ford today, but her testimony revealed, perhaps, it’s easier to remain silent than to come forward and report an assault for fear of being ostracized and belittled like Ford was.

Senior Chloe Landau said, “It made me think it wouldn’t even matter if I said anything has happened to me because no one would care.”

Despite the lack of legal action taken against Kavanaugh, what may look like a defeat for the #MeToo movement is really an accentuation of how much further our country still has to go to solidify women’s rights.

This movement, filled with successes and obstacles disguised as setbacks, is a huge step forward for the younger generation of both females and males to carry to the finish line. Kavanaugh’s confirmation doesn’t lessen the progress of #MeToo, but drives the shift of equality forward.

Our education system has yet to catch up to the women in our society who are breaking gender stereotypes every day. Teaching young girls that they’re powerful is way more important than teaching them how to deal with the power some men may have. English teacher Rebecca McGrath said, “We do so much on how to protect yourself with your car keys in your hands, rather than how to empower yourself in a relationship.”

As a teenage girl living in a time when girls are taught how not to get raped instead of teaching boys not to rape, it’s up to us young women to use our voices now, because change will happen. It may not happen overnight, or even in a year, but it’s our responsibility as the next generation of females to always share our story. Our voices are our most powerful weapon.

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