In 2017, a number of high-powered men were fired after allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct were brought to light. The #MeToo movement swept the internet. It created a wave of awareness regarding sexual harassment and assault. The silence breakers were named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Women and men alike came forward to share their stories, some for the first time in 10, 20, 30+ years. The hashtag trended in over 85 countries and netted millions of tweets.
The movement has brought up a myriad of questions, such as are we holding sexual predators responsible for their actions? How are we treating people who come forward with their stories of sexual abuse? What does the uptick in this movement say about the prevalence of sexual assault?
This movement isn’t ending in 2017. Women are still coming forward. At the 2018 Golden Globes, women such as Gal Gadot, Reese Witherspoon, Tracy Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington and others donned black attire as an anti-harassment protest in support of women both in the entertainment business and beyond.
This movement has made me feel comfortable and unashamed to share my story, although anonymously, for the first time in a public forum. I, too, am a victim of sexual assault. A man I considered to be a friend drugged and raped me after a night of karaoke. I don’t remember all of the events that transpired that night. It’s fuzzy and there are large portions of time that are missing; but, I do remember some very traumatizing moments such as him using the neck of a beer bottle to rape me saying “trash deserves trash.”
What happened to me does not define me. If anything, it has made me stronger than I ever imagined possible.
At the turn of the New Year, over 300 women in Hollywood announced the formation of Time’s Up, which is a combined effort to combat sexism at its foundation through legal recourse.
Reese Witherspoon said, “We have been siloed off from each other. We’re finally hearing each other, and seeing each other, and now locking arms in solidarity with each other, and in solidarity for every woman who doesn’t feel seen, to be finally heard.”
Time’s Up has shared a list of things we can all do to be part of the solution.
Don’t be part of the problem. For starters, don’t harass anyone.
If a person who has been harassed tells you about it, believe them. Don’t underestimate how hard it is to talk about these things.
If you know someone who has been harassed, connect them to resources that can help, such as the ones found on their website.
If you are a witness or bystander and see a harassing situation, help the person being harassed. You could actually intervene. You could confront the harasser. You could also help the person get out of the harassing situation. If you cannot do any of these things, you can still support the harassed person by corroborating and confirming the account of what happened.
You can support those affected by sexual harassment by donating to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.
If you are part of an organization, look at the workforce and the leadership (management, officers, board of directors). Does it reflect the market where you operate and the world we live in? If not, ask why not and do something to move it closer to that goal.
Acknowledge that talent is equally distributed but work and career opportunities are not. Mentor someone from an under-represented group in your industry. If you are in a position to do so, hire someone who can diversify the perspectives included in your organization. Your team will be better and stronger for it.
You can vote with your wallet: in your purchasing, in your investing and in your charitable giving. Spend or give to companies and organizations who have more equitable leadership and opportunities for all.
I will continue to stand up and fight against sexual assault and harassment. Will you join me in telling those who harass and take advantage of others that their #TimesUp?