The #MeToo Movement
Traumatizing events can often strip a victim of their confidence and voice. The #MeToo movement, one founded in the late 2010s and filled with emotion, has given victims the voice that was taken from them. By seeing others tell their story about their experience with sexual harassment or assault, a multitude of individuals were inspired to come forward about their own traumatic experiences after a notable period of of silence. Women, making up the majority of the victimized population, tried to regain their strength during a time of immense vulnerability, to ensure that no one would ever be treated in a similar way. However, author Tina Tchen for CNN Business Perspectives discusses how a majority of assault cases take place in an individual’s workplace. Tchen states how victims are afraid to report their victimizers, “that doing so would hurt their career,” thus provoking their silence (Tchen). Unfortunately, fear is a major factor that determines whether an individual remains silent about their situation. Although women were initially criticized for speaking about their victimizer years after the incident, it was actually in an attempt to protect themselves, or to process the traumatic moment. After numerous women plead their case, the government has begun to take action to prevent such a horror from happening to anyone else.
The issue of sexual misconduct has been prioritized with other urgent topics that call for justice. The government, along with constantly advocating for victims to speak up and take sexual harassment and assault cases to court, has attempted to make the process slightly easier for the victim. Corina Knoll for The New York Times specifically discusses the significance of the Child Victims Act, which gives victims who suffered sexual abuse as a child until 55 years old to accuse their abuser. This Act is especially a victory for the #MeToo Movement, as it was a “sign of the shift at the State Capitol, where new Democratic leaders have fewer qualms about showing emotion” (Knoll). By emphasizing emotion, the government appeals to victims even further, as they want victims to be aware that they are not alone and that justice will be served. It is reassuring for victims to know that their voices will be heard.
Although the #MeToo movement was most prevalent in 2018, it recently reappeared when a former film producer’s sexual assault trial began. Harvey Weinstein, an infamous producer known for sexually assaulting numerous women, is the epitome of everything those in the movement fight against. In fact, CNN, continuously posting updates on the case, states that “the #MeToo era is inextricably tied to Weinstein’s public downfall” (Levenson, del Valle, and Jorgensen). The world was shocked when an admired producer was accused of such crimes. The Weinstein case reiterated the fact that anyone is capable of misconduct, with many events maliciously hidden. It also emphasized the rise of sexual assault crimes, and opened the eyes of those who were not a part of the movement. In comparison to actual events of sexual assault, false accusations are far fewer. This increases the legitimacy and value of a victim’s claim and cry for help, due to public knowledge of the unfortunate common crime. Victims are receiving justice and recovering from the traumatic event, while their attackers are being given lengthy prison sentences for seemingly unforgivable crimes. Cases like Weinstein’s strengthened the #MeToo movement, as they ultimately allowed various laws and regulations to be passed, further protecting victims of sexual misconduct.
Individuals in the #MeToo movement strive to prevent anyone from feeling powerless, providing a large support base and platform for justice. After a history of relentless sexual abuse, it is time for an individual’s voice to be valued and for their consent to be taken seriously. When discussing the future of the issue, PBS quotes Debra Katz, a sexual assault attorney, who says that anytime someone listens to “someone’s testimony and gives rapt attention to the experiences of a sexual assault survivor, the world is transformed” (Heintz). Simply listening to a victim’s story can bring them relief and encourage them to speak up, as it makes the victim aware that they are not alone. By listening to the voices of those who were once voiceless, people around the world are contributing to the #MeToo movement more than they realize.