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#MeToo: The Stories of Countless Women

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WARNING: CONTAINS SENSITIVE MATERIAL

Actress Alyssa Milano sparked the Twitter movement “#MeToo” last month with her tweet calling for other women who have been sexually assaulted or raped to post their stories.

The movement was created in order to inspire solidarity among women and hold men accountable for sexual harassment. The issue of sexual harassment is massive in scope; it affects everyone from celebrities to high school students.

 


ENTERTAINMENT

Hollywood has been an incubator for this behavior, and the list of women coming out with their stories is ever-growing. Some of the most influential actresses in Hollywood have been sharing their stories, adding further momentum to the movement.

Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o, and Gwyneth Paltrow, among more than 50 other women, have publicly accused now-disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. All three expressed the disgust for the man and the system he thrived within, and have called for an end for such treatment of women in Hollywood.

“This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable,” Jolie wrote.

Many others have similar stories, focusing especially on the beginning of their careers. It seems there is a system in Hollywood that directly endangers actresses, predominantly struggling ones, by putting them at a disadvantage at the hands of dangerous, powerful men.

Echoing the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, many women in other industries are coming forward with accusations of sexual assault. In the food industry, many male chefs have been called out for their actions. Last month, New Orleans celebrity chef, John Besh, stepped down from his company after The Times-Picayune reported over two dozen harassment allegations from his female employees.

“This isn’t just a matter of a few bad eggs and we all know it. . . we can assume hundreds, if not thousands, more with kitchens just like the ones [Besh’s] female employees described,” fellow chef Tom Colicchio said in an open letter to males chefs posted to Medium this week, “…it’s time for men in the restaurant industry to say to each other: enough.

 


“This isn’t just a matter of a few bad eggs, and we all know it.”

Tom Colicchio


 

Women’s silence in the past due to the stigma surrounding those who speak out has done nothing but encourage further misconduct. Women who do speak out are often threatened with the ending of their careers and the destruction of their reputation. The #MeToo movement seeks to end this silence and promote a change to the system that would hold these men responsible for their actions.

“For every Harvey Weinstein, there’s a hundred more men in the neighborhood who are doing the exact same thing,” Me Too campaign founder Turana Burke said.

Burke started the campaign “to spread a message for survivors: You’re heard, you’re understood.” Although Burke has been mostly left out of the recent discussion, she has expressed that she is grateful for the scope of the movement, as she feels that it has brought attention to a salient issue. (Learn more about the official campaign here.)

LANSING HIGH SCHOOL

A survey of 125 students was conducted in Lansing High School. All grades were represented, and all answers are anonymous.

In total, the survey represents 14% of the student population: 86 women, 30 men, 2 people who identified as androgynous, 4 people who identified as other, and 3 people who were uncomfortable answering responded to the survey.

This infographic depicts the results from the sexual harassment survey.

The #MeToo movement has spread across the country, and the world, due to its relevance. It doesn’t just apply to one demographic, but instead is a topic that many people have been affected by.

“I think it’s important because it’s out there and it’s prevalent, and it’s important to have a space that [students] feel safe to talk about it when they’re in high school because it is more damaging to keep it in and not discuss it,” said History teacher Mrs. Melissa Lagree. “And also give them resources after they leave high school, who they can go to and how they can get help if they need it.”

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. For more statistics and information about RAINN’s cause, visit their website.

Mrs. Lagree expressed her opinions about strength in numbers. “I think the number is probably more and since you only questioned 125 you don’t know how many there could be. My husband and I did have a conversation about this once, all of these women started coming forward in the media and I think there’s strength in numbers. So when that information is put out there, I feel like it encourages women to feel more comfortable in speaking up and saying things when they have been wrongfully harmed in some way.”

Part of the survey allowed for students to tell their own stories about their experiences. Many of the stories that were reported in the survey had similar themes regarding groping, catcalling, and unwanted advances.

One student described their experience of being catcalled, “There have been times where I have walked down a busy sidewalk and I have had older men whistle at me. I was walking at a market in Kansas City and I had two men whistle at me within an hour.” Others described this happening when they were running or walking around the Legends.

While this can happen anywhere, students also described their experience within Lansing High School, “I was coming in from a fire drill and a couple of male students were near me. One of them suggested we [do stuff], I tried to politely decline, however the other student told me that since I didn’t want to they would simply use force to get what they wanted.”

The same concept of silencing victims can not only be found within Hollywood and Washington D.C., but also within the everyday lives of students. “A guy grabbed my thigh and between my legs multiple times during CCR last year and threatened me so I’d stay quiet,” described one respondent.

The faces of Lansing High students are fit together to form one entity.

Not all instances came from the high school however, some stories even came from the middle school. “People would play ‘Slap butt Friday’ and I never participated, but people slapped my butt,” a student said.

Another participant, who had a very similar experience, said,  “I was grabbed by the [butt] in 8th grade. I think it was a joke. I still don’t remember it that well, except how stunned I was afterwards.”

Perception between a compliment and sexual harassment is often misconstrued. Still, there is a clear distinction between a compliment and an unwanted, crass comment. “A guy came up to me in class and said ‘I like the green bra’ and felt my back.”

This comment could have been perceived as a compliment, however the subject of it was not appropriate; in addition, the unwanted touch was indicative of sexual intent.

Many stories ended with the sentiment of the worst part being “I didn’t even realize how awful it was until much later.” 

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800.656.HOPE, provided by RAINN.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “#MeToo: The Stories of Countless Women”

  1. Mme Clyde on November 29th, 2017 3:28 pm

    I like the infographic you created to visualize the data.

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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#MeToo: The Stories of Countless Women