Trigger warning – sexual assault (no details but mentioning a culture surrounding and the news, Me Too campaign)
I feel guilty for avoiding some facets of the news. And overwhelmed when I engage. Sexual harassment is certainly not new, but the wave of sexual offenders in the entertainment industry actually being punished for their behavior seems to be. I get overwhelmed looking at the news in part because of past experience and the fear of future experience. There is a shift happening, sure. But as survivors start to speak out, defenders of the predators start to speak out as well. Woody Allen, addressing the allegations of Harvey Weinstein, called it “tragic for poor women” but warned against a “witch hunt atmosphere.” (https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/a-fair-accusation-of-sexual-harassment-or-a-witch-hunt)
The spread (and appropriation) of the “Me too” campaign and the wave of people coming forward to talk about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry I’m sure can make the atmosphere feel like a witch hunt if you aren’t a survivor. If you fail to recognize that the reason so many people are speaking up is because they finally feel like they might be supported. Might be believed and action will be taken in response to their experience.
The Me Too Campaign was founded by Tarana Burke, not by Alyssa Milano, to create awareness and community for women of color who were survivors of sexual assault long before it took off in mainstream media. The campaign grew out of a decade of work before Alyssa Milano but initially Milano was credited as the beginning of the movement. Other campaigns to check out that were started by women of color are:
#WhatWereYouWearing, #YouOkSis and #SurvivorPrivilege
If you want to learn more about the beginning of the campaign:
I think language in addressing assault is important. In my personal opinion, using the word “victim” makes me feel powerless and “survivor” reminds me of my resilience. So I encourage using that term when talking to friends who have survived unless they specify otherwise.
I am sure I am not the only one feeling a mix of emotions regarding the sheer abundance of stories of assault flooding social media and the news. Some advice from Burke regarding the flood of “Me too”s but I think still applies:
“If you are a survivor who is feeling activated by this, there are organizations across the country that are doing this. Small organizations, local organizations,” she said. ” If you’re compelled to do a thing, just do something,” she said. Get trained to volunteer on a sexual violence hotline. Donate to a charity that supports survivors.
For those, however, who feel like they’re drowning in #MeToo, Burke had this advice: “Disconnect, don’t feel guilty about it. . . . Do that work at your own pace. Six months from now if you want to say, ’me too,’ it’s there. It exists forever.”
A song by Emily King that I think is cathartic: