#MeToo & Culture Shock: Two Opinions

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#MeToo is more than a trending hashtag, it’s more than a sign at a protest, and it’s more than jokes cracked at its expense. For hundreds of years humans have been pressed into the shadows of silence when it comes to sexual assault in fear of not being heard or believed.

The very essence of #MeToo is to give power back to survivors and take it away from those who used such cruelties to their own advantage. Employers, agents, significant others, teachers, church members, celebrities and countless others have used sexual assault to gain power over those around them.

#MeToo is about believing victims. Of course, like all crimes, false accusations take place, but coming forward about sexual assault is a different kind of a crime report. For many young women, the bridge to womanhood begins when they first feel the eyes of a man sizing them up for their bodies.

In the beauty pageant of becoming a woman, assault adorns you with a “Miss Rape” ribbon that you wear the rest of your life. Your pageant crown says “damaged goods” and the judges mock your story. Within the first seven years, the beauty queen is “looking for attention.” Once time has passed and wounds have healed, they want to know why she didn’t come forward then.

Abused children stifle their cries because they don’t know any better, and those that are old enough to understand are too scared to speak up. For many, to report sexual abuse is a kind of humiliation those reporting a robbery wouldn’t experience. It’s personal, and there isn’t soul and body insurance. What’s taken away can’t be reimbursed.

The effects of this movement are coming as a culture shock to so many people that for some reason we’re having to define rape and assault for adults. If you haven’t assaulted someone, you aren’t at risk of having evidence used against you. If you’re afraid of the pepper spray on your friend’s keychain, you’re the reason they have pepper spray on their keychain. How pathetic is it that it’s taken survivors putting themselves on the chopping block to have their voices heard; to show criminals that they’re tired of men getting away with disgusting crimes under the protection of fear?

Don’t worry, dear sexual offenders. Even when the evidence comes out against you, the videos, the audio, the stories… you can still have the full support of all those in power who did exactly what you did. But to my beauty queens, your pretty tears are seen by those of us with hearts, and this is the beginning of the end.

The #MeToo movement was, and still is, a groundbreaking stride towards equality and speaking up against sexual injustice everywhere. But with its resounding success, has anyone stopped to examine if it needs to be improved? Where there has been irrefutable success in outing people who have done horrible things, it has also begun to affect others in a way I don’t think people consider.

A significant number of comedians have been under fire for sexual assault allegations. The movement has begun to dissuade comedians from commenting on issues having to do with #MeToo in fear of not being “PC.” Some comedians like Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld have said they avoid colleges when booking shows because the environment is too politically correct.

Comedians have evolved into political activists who bring light to current events and issues through comedy. I would not be as involved or interested in national politics had it not been for Jon Stewart, who ran “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central for years by joking about prominent issues in our country. Comedians serve as a medium for voicing the controversial things other people would rather not discuss.

Another effect the movement has had are the ways some people go about harassing accused abusers. Take comedian and longtime host of AMC’s The Talking Dead Chris Hardwick, for example. Chloe Dykstra, Hardwick’s ex-girlfriend, came out in June with a post in Medium about her experience with emotional and sexual abuse during her relationship with Hardwick. After her post went viral, people began to plague Hardwick’s social media with hate and condemnation before any investigation had ensued, which I feel is the major issue with the movement that needs work.

AMC suspended Hardwick from his show, and didn’t air his already-recorded season premiere until after they investigated the claims. Nerdist, a company founded by Hardwick, wiped his name from their website and stopped his podcast. All this happened in a matter of hours after the post went viral.. Dykstra stated in her post that she had both text and video evidence of the abuse, yet she never brought formal charges against him. She later posted via twitter, “I have said what I wanted to say on the matter and wish to move on with my life.”

Hardwick was eventually cleared to return to The Talking Dead, his game show The Wall, and had his name added back to the Nerdist website. But not without a permanent black mark on his reputation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully prepared to drop Hardwick in a second if these allegations are true, but what was the benefit of Dykstra including in her post the fact that she has video evidence of these allegations if she’s not going to file charges? This shows we need a more proper way to out people other than through a blog post and a mob mentality.