Roundtable: #MeToo is just the beginning of change

Although prevalent now, the Harvey Weinstein case isn’t the first of its kind, and neither is the #MeToo movement.

Many sexual assault incidents have sparked similar movements and have amounted to little change. As a result, men must be involved in the fight for women’s rights.

In the past three years, there’s been multiple examples of similar types of activism. In 2014, Kesha accused her producer Dr. Luke of sexual assault and gender-based violence. This started the “Free Kesha” movement, where fans and supporters protested and created a fund to buy the artist out of her contract. In 2016, The Washington Post released an Access Hollywood tape of President Donald Trump bragging about kissing and touching women. In response, Canadian writer Kelly Oxford began the hashtag #NotOkay to encourage women to share their experiences of harassment.

Women have raised their hands and shared their stories before but, sadly, no significant change has come about. As Emma Watson suggested in her HeforShe campaign, involving men is vital if we wish to achieve gender equality.

#MeToo has sparked campaigns like #IHave and #ItWasMe, which allow men to confess being complicit in or guilty of sexual assault. Another, #IWill, encourages men to pledge future awareness and action in support of gender equality.

These hashtags encourage men to listen to women’s voices who are fighting against sexual assault. It allows them to reflect on their behaviour and change their actions. This means respecting women in the workplace, seeking consent, calling out abusers and accepting discomfort when engaging in conversations about harassment.

I’m not completely against the campaign — it represents the fight against those who abuse their position of power, and combats global systematic gender inequalities. #MeToo is about courage, solidarity, and the power of empathy trumping shame. #MeToo has overwhelming potential to initiate change.

The hashtag #MeToo has so far been used over a million times in the US, Europe and the Middle East. It has empowered women worldwide to share their sexual harassment stories because it creates a platform for them to do so. #MeToo represents much more than allegations against one Hollywood producer, showing society the wider scope of structural injustices which allow sexual assault.

As influential actors in the culture of sexual violence, men have immense power to stand against these injustices that tolerate abuse. Thus, even though #MeToo is a pivotal movement in empowering women, it’s only the beginning of change.

Angela is a second-year global development student.

For other reactions to #MeToo:

#MeToo... And then what?

Impacts of the #MeToo Campaign

Don't lose focus on #MeToo Campaign


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