#MeToo ... Now What?

By Charlene Ogu

 

 

So it seems women are still having a conversation about sexual violence against women😑

 

 
 

So we’ve all heard of the #MeToo hashtag that started circulating after women started stepping forward and sharing their experiences after allegations of sexual assault of the film producer Harvey Weinstein came to light.

 
 Photo: Harvey Weinstein

Photo: Harvey Weinstein

 

The #MeToo hashtag was started 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke and has only recently come to the forefront when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it. This speaks to the voices of women we choose to listen to. 👀

 
 Photo: Tarana Burke

Photo: Tarana Burke

 

One in five women are sexually assaulted in the UK.

But probably every woman by the age of 25 has experienced assault, catcalling, harassment, unwanted eye contact.

So why are we only now uncovering these stories of sexual assault?

We use silence to maintain the status quo. Maybe because we think it’s out of our control, perhaps we simply can’t imagine a world where things are different or maybe we've been told to be quiet too many times before.

From the dawn of time, women and girls have always had horrible experiences of sexual assault.

Which is why it surprised me that so many people were surprised.

What I think this really says is... maybe people haven’t been listening?

The #MeToo campaign isn't raising awareness because we are already aware. We see remnants of the effects of sexual assault in popular culture, news, other forms of media. We know it happens, only now with the magnitude of stories flying across our social media, it's hard to ignore.

 
metoo1.jpg
 

As women we need to be on our side. That means not being so quick to assume the worst in other women.

 “For every woman saying #metoo, there’s another woman rolling her eyes saying “boys will be boys” and “it’s harmless flirting” and “just ignore it” and “take it as a compliment” and “you should have dressed more modestly” and “you’re just imagining it” and “you’re too sensitive.” Or straight up: you’re lying. This is called internalized misogyny. It’s both damaging and protective. It gives you a false sense of control. We women can love men, like men, joke with men, date them, marry them, be friends with them, be attracted or not attracted to them, be their professional colleagues and bosses, play sports with men, be sitting near men on public transportation, walk by men on the street…AND we can expect them not to harass us. It’s not us against them. It’s us against misogyny.”

— Asha Dornfest

 

When we talk about crimes against women, tends to shift our focus off of male perpetrators and on to female victims and survivors. For example we talk about how many girls were raped last year. How many women were assaulted? Or how many women were slain. As opposed to saying, how many men raped women or girls or how many boys or men assaulted and murdered women. Another way in which we can see this idea about the invisibility of masculinity being played out is in the discussion about so-called “youth violence” You read headlines in newspapers all around the country about this problem of kids killing kids

– Jackson Katz

The silence of men however is just as devastating and their indifference is dangerous.

This is one of the ways that dominant systems maintain and reproduce themselves, which is to say the dominant group is rarely challenged to even think about its dominance, because that's one of the key characteristics of power and privilege, the ability to go examined, lacking introspection, in fact being rendered invisible, in large measure,in the discourse about issues that are primarily about us. And this is amazing how this works in domestic and sexual violence,how men have been largely erased from so much of the conversation about a subject that is centrally about men.

- Jackson Katz

 

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My challenge to you is to talk to a man in your life about some of these issues. We need to be able to talk about these issues and encourage men to do the same.

As women we don’t live in isolation, we live n communities with men as our fathers, brothers, uncles and friends.

The #MeToo hashtag is great for starting conversation and raising awareness but let’s face it among women we have these conversations, we know this happens. This is a problem of misogyny within our society.

We can call this a women's issue but women aren’t assaulting themselves.

 

➳Talk to men in your lives so they can talk to the men in their lives.

➳Say a prayer for women and men who have been sexually assaulted and the conversation we're beginning to have about it.

➳If you don't want to put the #MeToo hashtag on your social media don't feel pressurised to.

➳Don't over analyse those who do choose to put the #MeToo hashtag on their social media.

➳Remember that hashtags go out of style really quickly. So keep the conversation going with the people you interact with.

💗

Charlene Ogu