Before the hashtag that many people, including celebrities, are standing behind, there was an idea for change fostered by Tarana Burke. She is a woman who wanted to spread awareness and help out victims of sexual harassment/ assault. In 2007, her determination led her to found a nonprofit organization called “Me Too” in order to reach a wider community. However, this is not the first time that serious measures have been taken against sexual harassment and assault. Other campaigns such as the “It’s On Us” campaign was created by former President Barack Obama and most famously supported by his former Vice-President Joe Biden. This social movement’s goal is to tackle sexual assault/ violence towards both men and women and spread knowledge about these topics on college campuses.
The “Me Too” campaign went viral around the same time that Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault by a number of women and this news was everywhere. The most popular location for this news was Twitter, where people shared personal stories or experiences with the hashtag “Me Too” as others were congratulating them for their bravery. As we all know many individuals don’t speak out about sexual harassment, assault or violence. According to RAINN, an organization dedicated to helping the public and improving other services of consultation, there are 310 reported cases out of 1000 sexual assaults that occurred. That means that 2/3 of all cases aren’t reported so what resources are available to these victims and are they even helping the communities they are located in?
Even though most of the focus for these campaigns are college campuses, they are definitely here to be a service to all those that fight against sexual assault and even those that can’t. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine that celebrities aren’t immune to being victims of this disgusting crime and it’s hard to accept that other celebrities are the abusers in some of these instances. What about the people that worked for the abusers, are they victims of this crime? Have they spoken out? Even if they didn’t, the people that witness suspicious behavior or harassment, wouldn’t they just speak up if they knew? The answers to any of these questions could be yes or no. Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, America Ferrera, Reese Witherspoon, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Lawrence and countless others, have spoken out and shared their own sexual harassment and assault experiences. Their openness has raised a debate about why victims don’t speak out. RAINN has given vital information that hints as to why this might be by sharing that out of 1000 rapes, 994 of the perpetrators will walk free. Only six of the perpetrators will ever see the insides of prison bars. This is an issue because knowing this fact can motivate a person to remain silent since statistics proves that these offenders are rarely reprimanded or are given a punishment that forces them to address the severity and impact of their crimes. Other reasons people might withhold information are because of the lack of support from the police or other resources, the disbelief or pity that society will thrust upon you, and financial dependence in cases where the perpetrator is usually a family member, partner or employer.
secret, so what stopped her from coming forward? Well, her attacker was a high ranking sergeant and when she told her supervisor she was told not to disclose the information. She was told that her job was more important… Think about that, the job being more important than the sexual harassment and assault a person lives through at said job. Isn’t that ridiculous! Not only do you deal with people taking pity on you because now they can only see you as a victim but also there are people that believe living after an experience like that is easy. Attempting to jump back into a routine after that can be the biggest struggle a person deals with.
Time after time, so many people say “speak up” and “tell your story” but don’t people understand that these individuals are threatened when they try to speak out or are greeted with a system that literally does nothing to reduce the potential of it happening. The military has a history of not caring about the personal events that take place in someone’s life, most famously with sexual orientation. However, by not reprimanding high ranking officials or anyone who commits these awful crimes. By silencing women who attempt to get much deserved justice, the military is showing that it is still not an organization that upholds strong morals. SEXUAL ASSAULT IS NOT OKAY. Start punishing these sick offenders. At college as well as in the military, we should all work together to punish people who don’t support the values this country and officials in it claim to uphold. When are we going to be honest with how we treat women of our society? Lastly, sexual assault is just not just a women’s issue so we need to make sure we educate our young men on what consent looks like. Then we will be more equipped to recognize what it doesn’t look like. Continuing how we have been is not an option though. We need our men and these faulty systems in place to change and to start helping get justice and give consequence to those who deserve it. If we don’t, pretty soon “You Too?” will be more of a common question than we think.