Me Three: The Lost Voices of Those Who Cannot Speak Up

The #MeToo movement has been gaining immense popularity as of late, and it has no doubt been able to help thousands of women speak out about their sexual assault. However, there are a lot of people who are left out of this  or are unable to speak up when they want to, thus ignored by the movement.

So who exactly is being left out of the movement, and why? The movement has seemed to lack involvement by both men and women of color, and each group has their own obstacles contributing to their silence.

For straight men, it’s fairly obvious why they tend not to speak out. We’ve developed a culture in which men who have been raped are accused by society of not actually being assaulted; that all men enjoy sex, whether they originally wanted it or not. For example, instances where young boys are raped by older women are rarely seen as concerning in our current society. We so often perpetuate the idea that all boys want all sex all the time. So when a young boy is raped, many see it as a conquest for him, rather than an actual assault. 

In some instances, if the man reports the rape, or speaks out against it, he’ll be called homophobic slurs or "not a real man". Apparently, the idea of a man not wanting to have sex with a woman is so foreign in our society that it has become extremely harmful in perpetuating silence of male victims of sexual assault.

For women of color, it seems a large reason they don’t speak up in the movement is that they are not listened to. The #MeToo movement was originally created by Tarana Burke 10 years ago. For 10 years, the hard work of an inspiring black woman went unnoticed and only gained popularity after a famous white actress used the hashtag. And even after the hashtag gained popularity, women of color could not speak out for fear of retribution as well as a lack of support. It has not been uncommon for women of color to be silenced in their attempts to speak out. It was seen with Jemele Hill who was suspended by ESPN for speaking out against the NFL, and Leslie Jones who was relentlessly harassed on Twitter after being cast in the all-female Ghostbusters movie.

So, to combat those attempting to silence them, Ashley Reign created the hashtag #WOCAffirmation. Its goal is to uplift women of color, as they are so often ignored. As Reign says in an interview, “White women have not been as supportive as they could have been of women of color when they experience targeted abuse and harassment.”

Intersectionality when addressing issues of feminism is essential to any successful movement, and #MeToo is no exception. When talking about issues like sexual assault and rape, addressing the experiences of everyone, including both men and women of color, should not be ignored. If we do ignore these victims, we silence them, and we perpetuate the narrative that their experiences are not as real or traumatic as those of white women.  

Every victim of sexual assault deserves the chance to speak out if they wish. Speaking out can give these victims a sense of power and control in their life that they had not experienced before. Those who are denied this luxury are left to suffer in silence. The #MeToo movement has no doubt excelled in its ability to empower white women, but it’s time to step up and start supporting the men and women of color who have too often been forgotten.

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