As of late there has been an internet movement meant to empower women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. The point of the movement is to draw attention to how large this issue really is.
Before I continue, let me also be clear in that no one owes anyone anything, in terms of their story. It is so wrong to expect that. At the end of the day we need to learn to respect people’s privacy as well as understand that we are all different. We have may experienced similar things but our stories are not the same. Because of that how we feel about a situation may vastly differ and that is okay. Horror stories should not be a competition on who suffered more. At the end of the day you experienced a hardship, period. That should be where that conversation ends. However, if you are comfortable and at a place where you find strength in sharing your story I would definitely encourage it.
In general, every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted. Of those people, over half will be between the ages of 18 and 35. Statistics tell us that 1 in every 6 women have been sexually assaulted and 1 in every 5 men who have attended college. In addition 21% of the LGBTQ+ community is also at risk to be sexually assaulted. More statistics can be found, here.
The “Me, Too” Movement: Perpetuating Rape Culture
In general I feel that this internet movement is one born out of good and was not meant to cause any harm. However, in a lot of ways this movement is almost perpetuating the rape culture within our society. The general post I have seen is as follows:
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
When I first heard about this movement, I was excited – not only as a feminist, but as a woman, as a sexual assault survivor, and as someone who deals with sexual harassment on a daily basis. So I jumped on Facebook and let the world know that treating women in this manner is not okay, and it affects all of us.
Sexual Assault Affects Us All
Then I started thinking about how exclusive this status is and how it is not helping our cause. Because at the end of the day sexual assault affects all of us. Women, men, straight, gay, trans, non-binary, white, black, brown, children, adults, elderly. Everyone. And by posting a status such as this you are eliminating these other populations who are statistically very likely to also be affected by this societal issue.
I am all for social justice, but it can become too easy to get wrapped up in the fight of it all. We have to realize that we can not fight alone. We need our allies and we also need a dialogue that is more inclusive to all of those who have this shared experience.
Changing the Dialogue
A few hours later, after I thought about all of this, I decided to change only one word within my status, and that word was “women”. I changed the word to “PEOPLE” because the reality is that if all people who had been sexually assaulted or harassed shared something as simple as “me, too” then we would truly understand the magnitude of this issue.
At the end of the day, by only subjecting women to this status we are not only perpetuating rape culture by making it a women-only issue. But we are also cutting everyone out of the conversation by only hearing a fraction of it.
What You Can Do
If you find comfort in posting this status, that is wonderful – but what else can we do about this issue? Below are a bunch of resources so no matter who you are, a survivor or an ally you can do something that will make a difference.