The revelations that have come out during the past week about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults on women are both horrifying and all too familiar. This is not just because of “one man” from Hollywood—but, rather, because of what his example reveals about the sexist issues that remain pervasive across all of society.
For some of us, these offenses have been direct.
For others, it’s the heartache of knowing the pain our mothers, sisters and friends have suffered.
For all of us, it’s the caution that we “must” dress modestly, walk to our cars with pepper spray within reach, never leave a drink unattended at a party, meet up with new people in public spaces and so on.
The truth is that to be a woman is to be affected by sexual harassment. For proof, search no farther than the #MeToo hashtag that’s trending across all of social media.
If youâve been sexually harassed or assaulted write âme tooâ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
Launched in earnest with a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano on Sunday afternoon, Twitter confirms the hashtag has since been used more than half a million times by people speaking out about their experiences with sexual aggression and violence.
And it hasn’t even been 24 hours.
This isn’t because we needed a platform to tell our stories.
It isn’t because we needed permission.
It is because, despite everything, we still have hope.
Despite the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that show one in five women will be raped in her life...
Despite the finding that rape is the most under-reported crime in America...
Despite statistics that show 3.5 million American women endured non-contact unwanted sexual experiences in the past year...
Despite researched that showed 85% of women experienced street harassment before the age of 18...
Despite United Nations reports that 40 to 50% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace...
Despite United Nations reports that 83% of American girls aged 12 to 16 experience sexual harassment at school...
We have hope because we are shaping the future.
In the conversations we have with our daughters and sons about consent, to what we model for them in healthy relationships, these are the lessons that matter. By simply bringing the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence to the light today, we are already taking a major step in the right direction because it is our voices and responses that give us power.
Today that looks like #MeToo, but tomorrow it could be history.