One year later, #Metoo continues to bring abuse to light

It was almost a year ago when Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a hashtag that would come to overwhelm the nation: #Metoo. 

The phrase was originally started by activist Tarana Burke over a decade ago on Myspace, but the mantra gained national attention when Milano bravely came forward to share that she was a survivor of sexual harassment while encouraging other survivors to do the same. 

In the time since, many famous Hollywood big shots such as Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K and Kevin Spacey were among the many accused of sexual assault. The movie and television industry is the perfect outlet for these predators, as they are allowed to prey on their victims without consequence. These young females in Hollywood are afraid to speak out publicly in fear of being “blacklisted” or labeled as “difficult to work with.” This toxic cycle allows people in power to abuse those below them without any repercussions. 

Milano started a movement that has taken over our country, mostly because it resonated so deeply with so many of Americans. One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, and sexual assault does not just happen in Hollywood. It’s likely that someone you know well has been sexually assaulted, whether that person has come forward or not. 

Whenever victims speak out or share their stories of sexual assault, they are often met with public scrutiny, which discourages survivors from coming forward. As a nation, we have to stop doubting women’s stories and saying things like “She’s just doing it for attention” or “Her dress was really short, and she asked for it.” 

Shaming the victim gets us absolutley nowhere, especially when using such a baseless argument. Victims who have come forward do not gain any sort of fame. Most people can’t name any of Donald Trump’s accusers. This kind of condemning conversation often occurs when people in powerful positions encourage these kinds of responses. 

Trump is a prime example of this, as he as mocked every women who has accused him of sexual assault. He publicly shames them, even telling his supporters at rallies like one in Pennsylvania that “It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of.” 

Well President Trump, I hate to break it to you, but it’s even scarier to be a young women in a nation with a prominent rape culture, where we normalize and fail to condemn sexual assault. Women are told not to walk alone, be outside by themselves at night or be on their phones when walking to their own car, and some even carry pepper spray or tasers to try and prevent something as horrific as sexual assault. 

This so called “fear” in young males is nothing compared to the fear every young women faces when she sees another news headline detailing episodes of sexual assault that seem to become more common every day. 

This straightforward hashtag helps to put an end to the normalization of rape culture and helps survivors to not suffer in silence. #Metoo encourages our congress to put more progressive laws into action that further criminalize rape and does not punish victims of sexual assault, as it has in the past. The biggest problem we continue to face in enacting such seemingly sensible laws is that our congress is overwhelmingly male. While men can and have been sexually assaulted, it’s much more likely to happen to women. We need women in congress to represent our voices that have too often been silenced. These laws should not be spun into political partisan agendas. This is a human rights issue, not a political one for any side to own. 

One year after a single tweet brought victims forward and helped them stand together as one, our nation still faces the same problems it did then. Even with Weinstein facing charges, this toxic pattern has still continued in America. #Metoo has brought awareness, and now it’s up to us as a nation to end the stigma and take action.

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