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Opinion

New social media campaign brings awareness to sexual assault

Lauren A. Simenson

October 18, 2017

A lot of my time this past week has been spent “liking” posts on social media, which up until recently had been a pretty standard activity. This standard activity has not been me just double-tapping a picture of a cute outfit or liking a post of a sarcastic and topical meme, however. I have been showing support in the most basic of ways by liking every post of #MeToo that I have come across. I think I have liked more posts online in just this past week than I have ever done in my time on the internet.

Celebrities, media organizations and regular people online have had a lot to say about this hashtag that has been dominating people’s feeds. ManRepeller said that #MeToo is a quiet roar, while actress Mayim Bialik is being called out for victim blaming after she published her opinion on the hashtag movement. Women online have shared specific stories about how they have been harassed, assaulted or raped, while others have said they won’t say it even though they have their own stories. Some men, and even women, have responded with #IWill to acknowledge the part they have in stopping sexual harassment, assault and rape and what actions they will do to stop sexual violence.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) the largest U.S. anti-sexual violence organization, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. For women, 1 out of every 6 of us has “been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.” That’s almost 18 million women since 1998. Rape and sexual violence statistics are even scarier when you narrow down the scope to college campuses where college aged women are three times more likely to experience sexual violence. RAINN also reports that “only 20% of female student victims report to law enforcement.”

I think #MeToo has finally started to shock people into seeing the magnitude of what women, all women, have gone through their entire lives.

Unfortunately, I do not think this hashtag is quite enough. I worry that like most things on the internet, it will be too fleeting. History and the stories women have shared prove how effectively sexual assault and harassment can be made to disappear – just look how long it took for the women who Harvey Weinstein assaulted to finally get some justice.

It is difficult to not have this pessimistic and cynical view when the most prominent person of the United States, the leader of our country, is still not being held accountable for his own history of sexual violence and harassment. The complete fury I feel that the man that some Americans voted to be the President of the United States has a long and acknowledged history of sexually assaulting and harassing women is not something I will ever be able to get over. The more I see and read #MeToo stories, the more my blood boils that the President still sits in the most prestigious chair in our country. I guess I should be used to this feeling of indignation by now, because just think how many of the attackers and harassers of woman who are also sitting in their own prestigious chairs all over the nation. Men who, like the President, are seemingly unaffected by their history of abuse and assault towards women.

We will have made real progress when all the men who have inflicted violence on women are held accountable for their actions and suffer real consequences. Until then, I will keep liking every single post I see of #MeToo as a small way of recognizing what we have all gone through and will continue to experience if change does not happen.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.

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