Recently, allegations of sexual assault have been placed at the forefront of our media viewing, most notably in the mainstream entertainment industry. The trend of revealing sexual assault allegations in Hollywood raises a huge concern about whether or not race and social status play an important role in the shaping of the Time’s Up movement, and if this crusade truly benefits all women.
The Me Too movement was thrust into the spotlight during October 2017 by actress Alyssa Milano, who posted on Twitter: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” In reaction to this tweet, there were roughly 25,000 retweets, 54,000 likes and 68,000 replies. These included stories about people, mainly women, being assaulted by their stepfathers, older men, co-workers and people they believed to be their friends.
Contrary to popular belief, the MeToo Movement was created in 2006, around the time social media and generic hashtags began to take off. The woman who created it is named Tarana Burke. She began a nonprofit organization called Just Be Inc., which aids victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Burke primarily advocates for young women of color, who are not always represented or advocated for in our society.
The most well-known public figure to be revealed was media mogul Harvey Weinstein. To date, he has been accused of sexually assaulting, harassing and/or raping an estimated 84 women. The revelations of Weinstein encouraged other women to come out and share their story, bringing down the men who had assaulted them. This movement was dubbed Time’s Up.
The MeToo Movement was founded by a black woman. Throughout recent history, African-American women have been perceived as being less than their white, female counterparts. Clothing and hairstyles that black women have worn are stolen by a popular white women and deemed as a new fashion trend, when the item has been a part of that culture for years.
As someone who belongs to the African American community, it is sickening to have things which we trademarked stolen from us. One of those things is the MeToo hashtag and movement. It was created by Burke, a selfless social worker, who works diligently to give a voice to victims of assault and oppression. The hashtag was created more than a decade ago, but was only recently brought to light by a popular white woman. It seems as though the wealth of the victims is equivalent to the weight of their words.
There have been some non-white actresses which have gained public support for coming forth about sexual allegations, such as Lupita Nyong’o and Salma Hayek. Yet, it seems as though Hollywood has whitewashed and privatized a movement that should be for everyone, regardless of their sex/gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Hollywood should be using their prominent platform to advocate for the common, everyday women who have been assaulted.
Instead, they are using their soapbox as a fashion statement. In order to spread awareness of sexual assault, the A-listers of Hollywood decided to wear black to the 2018 Golden Globes red carpet in solidarity with those who have actively or silently proclaimed “me too!”
While it is fantastic that they are using their fame to show support for sexual assault survivors, it seems to be a weak sentiment. If they wanted to really help those who have been assaulted, they could donate to sexual assaults programs or educate the public on what sexual assault and harassment is. The black clothing did symbolize the resistance to sexual assault; there needs to be more tangible action taken on this issue.
Average women are still being sexually assaulted, and not much is being done to combat that. Some women that have sought out justice have won their court cases, but sadly this does not represent all victims of sexual assault, specifically those who fall into minority groups. Marginalized groups should be respected enough to have their accusations taken seriously.
Sexual assault and rape should not be taken lightly. Some people blow it off and tell the assaulted person to “just get over it.” There is no just “getting over it.” It is a universal right of every person to have autonomy over their own bodies. Nobody has the right touch you in a way that you are uncomfortable with. Many college campuses have begun to promote champion explicit consent for intimate relations. It is necessary to abide by this because the territory of wanted and unwanted affection can easily be crossed.
The aftermath can leave victims mentally, physically and emotionally scarred for life. It is up to us, as fellow human beings, to uplift and encourage those who have been affected by assault. We should allow them to feel comfortable with sharing their stories. People should not have to live in fear that they won’t be believed when they tell the truth.
The majority once (and in some cases, still do) used their privilege to speak over the minority. Through activism and awareness, minorities are finally getting their chance to give their stance on issues which directly affect them and their respective communities. Coming up with solutions to problems is easier when we are able to communicate with those who are primary sources. The minority have voices and they refuse to be silenced any longer.