February 16, 2018
Let’s set the scene. A night out at the club, a college party, the classroom or a doctor’s office. What’s one thing all of these places have in common? All have been the setting of an allegation concerning sexual harassment. 2017 was the year where women and the harassed were a force to be reckoned with. Those who have kept quiet their entire lives, or just a few weeks, have taken a stand to show that they want justice. Sexual harassment has affected the workforce, the sports world and campuses. What does naming “women” TIME magazine’s People of the Year mean for the cause in 2018? What is to come of the destruction women are creating and what will be left in their wake?
Looking back, people will remember 2017/2018 as the year of “shining the light” on sexual harassment cases. This surge of women and men exposing injustice will go down in history as a major societal change in the world. Everyone is now on notice or in fear for what they’ve done or have yet to do. The objectification of women has been present throughout history. Women have often been stereotyped as stay-at-home moms, trophy wives or less powerful than men. Men have had dominance over women that allows things such as rape, sexism, and comments diminishing a woman’s worth to be simply overlooked or worse, accepted. We are now making important strides to exposing this sexism. Women finally feel like they have the power to stand up for the way they should be treated. No more “she was asking for it,” or “the way she dresses gives off the wrong impression.”
A huge step in the “Me Too” movement is recent stories from celebrities and authority figures stepping into the light. Taylor Swift went to court for being grabbed by a DJ, David Mueller, in 2013. The DJ stuck his hand up her skirt and grabbed Swift’s bottom. He was fired and wanted to sue Swift for her allegations, saying they were not true. Swift responded, “I had already been in court all week and had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger and harass my team, including my mother, over inane details and ridiculous minutiae, accusing them, and me, of lying. I was angry. In that moment, I decided to forgo any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom — why should I be polite?” (The Washington Post). Women are standing up for the way they are perceived in the world. Allegations and justice for these actions are shaping the image of women and the way that men are allowed to treat them. A woman’s outfit is not solely picked out to make a guy go weak at the knees. There are powerful, talented and successful women in the world that deserve to be looked at the same way a successful man is looked at.
A young girl or boy should not have to put their education or well being at risk because there’s the possibility that they might be treated inappropriately. Larry Nassar, a sports physician for the US Olympic girls gymnastics team, was sentenced to life in prison after sexually abusing over 150 girls. The disgusting news was hard to hear, but led to a huge step towards a world where this is not acceptable in our society. Many girls tried to tell someone about their abuse, but in many cases they were told to keep quiet or were paid off by Nassar himself. The world cannot continue like this. A woman or a man that is abused or treated inappropriately cannot be brushed off to the side or said to have “had it coming”. The people who have kept their unfair treatment to themselves for years are now taking their confession to the podium and doing something about it. 2018 is a year that should force predators to shield their faces from the light and face the consequences of their actions. Woman have power and that is increasing due to the courageousness of the women who came forward in 2017. Don’t step in their path, or risk being brushed off to the side, just as the used to be.
The counterpoint is that the injustice of many can be overshadowed by those who take advantage of the publicity generated. Women and men who have come forward falsely put the whole movement at risk. Those who use this monumental event as a chance at fame or use an allegation to get an enemy in trouble put the power and worth of women on the line. Men who are pulled into an accusation falsely can lose everything. If we begin to tear apart good people for unjust reasons, the whole movement will lose its credibility and ability to help those who are telling the truth.
Women and men both deserve to feel brave and strong with the ability to succeed in whatever they want. If anybody steps in front of that right or questions their worth for their own entertainment, they deserve to be publicly punished and stripped of their ability to succeed. Harassment changes the way someone looks at themselves and will affect the way they live their lives. Everyone should be treated like they matter. Whether that’s to the world, their friends, family or most importantly, themselves.
Photo By: The Daily Beast