The Me Too movement originated over a decade ago when a woman named Tarana Burke was at a youth camp. A young girl had asked to speak with Burke alone and she told Burke about sexual acts her stepfather had done to her. From the experience, Burke would go on to create the Me Too movement later that year. The movement exploded in October of 2017 after actress Alyssa Milano came out against movie producer Harvey Weinstein for sexual assaults.
Shortly after, Milano tweeted out, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
Thousands of people started to reply to the tweet and tell their story. The metoo hashtag was trending on Twitter for many days. Other actors and actresses also came out with their own experiences of being sexually assaulted. The movement is so powerful that it has influenced politics. The Washington Post published in early November that Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore had an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old girl while he was 32 years old. Roy Moore lost the election afterward.
In Sacramento, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty called for more responsibility in regards to sexual harassment claims in the California Legislature.
“The California State Assembly should look at the taxpayer funded payouts for sexual harassment — and explore holding perpetrators of sexual harassment more financially accountable,” said McCarthy on his website. “Why should taxpayers be on the hook for sexual harassment payouts, while wrongdoers walk away with no financial accountability? The State Assembly and the Joint Rules Committee should consider ways to recover financial damages from proven violators directly.”
The Me Too movement came late in 2017 but has already had a tremendous effect on society. Many women felt more empowered to speak out as a result.
In the recent past, sexual assault seemed to be a topic not often discussed in society. However, with accusations in Hollywood and the new hashtag #metoo appearing quite often, that seems to be changing. Perhaps with this change of discussion, also will come a change of mindset and action on sexual assaults and harassment, since both of those things have also been lacking in our society.
Sexual assault has long been a topic that survivors often don’t discuss, and sometimes don’t report, as they believe it is their fault. Society plays a part in the mentality of “victim blaming”, a term used to describe the phenomenon of how some people put the blame on the person who was assaulted, rather than the person who committed the crime.
However, as talking about sexual assault has become more prevalent, and there are more accusations of sexual assault coming out from within the film industry. Famous actor Kevin Spacey was accused of sexually harassing Anthony Rapp, another actor, who was 14 at the time. Producer Harvey Weinstein, who spearheaded the movement of capturing predators, was also accused of sexually assaulting multiple people, including Uma Thurman as well as Angelina Jolie.
“I think it’s good for those child actors in the recent cases to draw the line and before anything can occur,” said Oliver Moring, a 17 year old high school student. “It’s good to see that those people who are speaking out can give others who have sadly suffered in silence the courage to speak up finally. In terms of (affecting) how people perceive sexual harassment, I don’t want to admit that I don’t think these new cases could change much. Not even a few months ago a 27-year-old model made a post about how Finn Wolfhard should “Hit her up in 10 years”. And to top it off, Millie Bobby Brown was voted as one of the top 10 “sexiest tv stars” by a magazine. So although these actors and people (affected) are speaking up, we as people are not changing our views or trying to rid the problem by increasing the rate in which these things happen.”
On Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, the hashtag #metoo is used by survivors of sexual assaults to share their experiences and talk about other things related to the topic.
“I think it’s very good to talk about (sexual harassment) experiences,” said Maxwell Cade, a 16-year-old high school student. “Some people can learn from it. I think people should get more educated in school about it. Like a lot of kids are getting (taught) the wrong things from family members and such.”
Perhaps all the allegations happening in Hollywood will encourage more people to speak out against predators. The #metoo movement is a good start to opening up to the conversation about sexual assault and harassment.
In America, one in four women will experience sexual assault on their college campus. All told in this country, 293,000 people are sexually assaulted each year. That means every 107 seconds another individual is being sexually assaulted, and in most of these cases the victim knows their attacker.
Being sexually assaulted is more than just a physical assault, in most cases it causes years of psychological problems. Often times survivors feel ashamed or responsible for the assault that has been made against them. Statistics tell us that victims are four times more likely to contemplate suicide after a sexual assault.
With these facts in mind, California State University, Sacramento is holding a full month of activities during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is an effort to bring sexual violence awareness, prevention, and victim advocacy to campus for survivors.
“Sac State is committed to addressing this issue, providing victim-centered support, and creating a safe community where our students can succeed and thrive,” says Reva Wittenberg, the associate director of campus wellness for University’s Student Health and Counseling Services.
Sacramento State started off this event with a visit from the Red Shoe, a 9-foot-tall high heeled shoe, that is a symbol for the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” campaign. This campaign aims to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. The president of Sacramento State College, Robert S. Nelsen, spoke as did representatives from the University’s Student Health and Counseling Services, Associated Students Inc., and Women Escaping a Violent Experience.
Other activities for the month will include the 15th annual Sac State “Take Back the Night” march, a “Men Who Ask” workshop, a signing of the White House-led “It’s On Us” pledge which aims to put an end to sexual assault on college campuses, and Denim Day which is a day that aims to bring awareness to the misconceptions about sexual assault.
In light of all this on April 7th Assembly-members Kevin McCarty and Lorena Gonzalez passed the AB 1661 bill. This bill requires all elected officials to take a mandatory sexual harassment course within their first 6 months of taking office and also forces them to retake this course every two years.
“It is our hope that by requiring sexual harassment prevention training for local elected officials, we can prevent the harassment that derails lives and careers as well as save cities from having to pay valuable taxpayer dollars on settlements,” says Michelle Pariset from Sacramento Collective for Women’s Rights.
This bill will close the loophole from the existing law that makes it possible for elected officials to get out of the sexual harassment training education courses. AB 1661 will not make it a requirement and absolutely mandatory for every local elected official.
To keep up with all the upcoming events at Sac State, click here for more information.
If you or a friend have ever been a victim of sexual assault and need help, you can call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to reach a completely confidential support organization.