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How To Keep the #MeToo Conversation Going in a Meaningful Way

How To Keep the #MeToo Conversation Going in a Meaningful Way

Last week you were brave and confronted the “me too” posts on Facebook and Twitter. Some people shared their stories, others stood in solidarity, and some acknowledged to themselves that yes, I’ve experienced it too. Others took a break from social media because for many, reading “me too” is triggering. Regardless of whether you typed out the phrase “me too” or said it silently to yourself, you did something powerful.

I thought long and hard about whether I was going to open myself up to the vulnerability of typing out those five letters… two words. Ultimately, I did and I’m glad I tweeted #metoo because it made me realize this movement can’t end here. So, what comes next? There has to be more than typing “me too,” despite how difficult it was. How can we continue the conversation and support our fellow sexual abuse and harassment survivors?

The Me Too Movement started ten years ago with Tarana Burke, an activist who wasn’t looking for it to be a viral hashtag. Instead, “it was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.” Burke’s movement was initiated with the goal of providing aid to sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities. With that mission in mind, here are ways to continue supporting #metoo.

Practice Intersectional Feminism

This is the most important item on this list, especially since the Me Too Movement was started for women of color. It took famous white women sharing their stories about Harvey Weinstein to ignite the public damnation and the viral #metoo. Too often, our conversations don’t look at the many shades of sexism. Too often it’s about the white experiences of sexism and assault. But who is that really helping? Sure, it provides marginal gains to the white women but REAL change isn’t possible until EVERY person’s experience is valued equally.

On October 12, Twitter suspended Rose McGowan’s account because of a tweet that had “a private phone number.” There was outrage following McGowan’s suspension, as many female users report death threats and other vile tweets with no repercussions to the other user but suddenly Twitter enforced a suspension on McGowan.

On October 13, women boycotted Twitter in solidarity with McGowan and to protest Twitter’s harassment rules. But when you look at the hashtag (#WomenBoycottTwitter), you see many who disagree with the method. Ava DuVernay tweeted, “calling white women allies to recognize the conflict of #WomenBoycottTwitter for women of color who haven’t received support on similar issues.” I read many tweets of a similar stance on the 12th and it made me question the efficacy of the boycott and whether it was truly the best method to stand up to Twitter’s backward harassment policy, a policy that affects all women not only white women.

I wonder how many women of color participated in the #metoo posts. Was it a truly inclusive campaign? There’s power in sharing your story, and I experienced that when I posted #metoo. I want to continue to feel that power and use it to change how we talk about sexual assault and harassment. It’s an issue that affects everyone regardless of color or gender and no one deserves it. All women deserve a place at the table and a voice supported enough to share their story, no matter how seemingly insignificant. It’s time to use the Me Too Movement as Burke intended and it’s time to give her movement the recognition it deserves.

Change the Narrative

Words used to describe sexual assault and harassment are usually passive. We focus too heavily on the female victim. What seems to be overlooked is that it took a man (in most cases) to carry out the assault. It’s time to change the narrative on assault. It isn’t the victim that we should be focused on, it’s the perpetrator.   

You’ve probably seen the quote by Jackson Katz making its rounds on Facebook and Twitter:

“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenage girls in the state of Vermont got pregnant last year, rather than how many boys and men impregnated teenage girls…Even the term ‘violence against women’ is problematic…It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term, ‘violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them…Men aren’t even a part of it.”

We also need to change the narrative for victims. Instead of blaming and finding ways that it could’ve been the victim’s fault, we need to support and encourage. Their courage should be met with empathy and community. Don’t focus the narrative on the victim: focus it on the perpetrator, the criminal. Rape isn’t a mistake, it’s an abuse that can ruin victim’s lives. We need to stop saying “boys will be boys” and start holding our boys and men to higher standards.

If we change the way we talk about rape, victims, and sexual harassment we can change the way it’s perceived in society. It starts small, and we must individually commit to changing how we discuss these topics and take that out into the world.

Support a Charity

There are many charities for survivors. Find one that matches your ideals and morals. Find one that you can fully get behind and one that gives real support to survivors.

Here are some suggestions:

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)—the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country and they break down how their money is spent. There are more ways to get involved than just donating, check out their Get Involved page.

Know Your IX—their motto is “empowering students to stop sexual violence.” This organization is working hard to keep Title IX in place and educates students on their rights and the actions they can take. If you can’t afford to donate, there are other ways to get involved.

See Also

End Rape on Campus—this nonprofit works to end sexual violence on campus through education, prevention, and providing support to survivors.

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence—this organization provides research and education to policymakers. If you’re interested in changing the laws around sexual violence this is a good organization to support.

Me Too Movement—created by Tarana Burke, the Me Too Movement is a movement that supports women of color, those who identify as female, and the non-binary. The Movement provides education and support.

Check out the organizations you’re looking to donate to on Charity Navigator, which gives nonprofits a score and breaks down how effective they are. You can always look for local nonprofits to support too.

Speak Up

If we all stay silent, no progress is made. Together, we can make a difference. So, let’s use the aftermath of #metoo to make sure we continue to be heard. The victims of Harvey Weinstein stood united and made progress. Let’s insist that our standards be higher, it shouldn’t take many women accusing the same man, it should end with one. We must hold each other to a higher standard. No more excuses, no more victim blaming, and no more leniency. Now is the time for change.

 

Featured Image by Mihai Surdu/Shutterstock

Lauren Gustafson

Lauren is a Virginia native and graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she majored in English. She reads passionately, bakes occasionally, and loves rugby. Lauren has spent multiple summers supervising children at overnight camps and she is a pro at dealing with awkward and inappropriate questions. Her goals in life include: being a crazy book lady, living on her own, and traveling any chance she gets.
Lauren Gustafson
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