We have come a long way, raising our global voices. The recent #MeToo is another strong leap forward, evidence and result of so many of us working together toward a world in which women and girls are safe, and free, and able to live our lives with respect, and as we choose.
#MeToo has emerged from our making our stories known, documenting and speaking out against violence and other forms of discrimination against women locally and globally for more than a half century. It has grown from global actions on16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. It has been fed by the 1 Billion Rising Movement, millions dancing on V Day to Break The Chain.
#MeToo has grown from listening to each other over decades. It has come from discovering and speaking out about rampant incest and sexual assault across North America in the 1980's. #MeToo was started 10 years ago by Tarana Burke https://metoomvmt.org. It was nurtured by women, in particular African American women, who steadfastly pushed for the US Supreme Court’s 1986 decision that sexual harassment was a violation of the Civil Rights Act. It came too out of collective anger watching the1991 televised hearings that Anita Hill was subjected to in the US, speaking out about sexual harassment at work by a man who was accepted as a judge of the US Supreme Court after her testimony was rejected. It came from outrage here in Canada when Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of violence toward women, and statistics made public that out of 1,000 sexual assaults here, only 33 are reported; of these, 12 result in charges, six go to trial, and fewer than half of 6 result in conviction. Currently #MeToo gathered momentum from #Been RapedNeverReported. #MeToo was fed by the trial of Bill Cosby, a 50-year chronicle of accusations, a trial that at least ended in jury deadlock. #MeToo rose in beautiful rage from the thousands who came together on the streets globally in Women’s Marches, and it was fed by the celebration of our wave of WorldPulse photos for International Women’s Day 2017. The momentum has built from every story, every action that has been and continues to be written and voiced. It has been built from every time we have been ridiculed, discounted or punished for speaking out, and we refused to be silenced. It has been built by our frustration at inaction by our governments to acknowledge the extent of violence and containment of women, and in particular right now at the inaction regarding assaults in workplaces, and the firing of women who spoke out. #MeToo has grown as well out of frustration at the betrayal by and/or silence of men who refused to believe us or speak up.
The ability to speak out freely and to have equitable access to press coverage is still an unfinished patchwork, with some having success and others still facing ridicule and threats, or being ignored. #MeToo has been getting news coverage because of the popularity of famous people who have come forward as victims or been exposed as aggressors. The next task for news media is to continue to cover violence against women and girls until all of the violence is addressed. This means revisiting the history of the women who created this momentum, acknowledging that we have been speaking out on this for many years and not accepting that change comes slowly. And it means going far beyond rich, famous and white women. This momentum is riding on the enormity of what has been exposed, and on the continuation of new stories being added. #MeToo is being strengthened in a way we have not experienced before through the new voices coming forward, through the response by employers, and through the vocal support of men who are now becoming able to grasp the size of this, and speak out with us about the multitudes of women who never got the job, were harassed on the job, were fired for not silently complying and who, they now recognize, have important stories to tell. The momentum is gathering as men begin to talk about abuse they too have suffered from men, and understand that it is a culture of dominance that we have been trying to change. #MeToo is as strong as it is because of the bravery of women to speak out, because of the multitudes of us who have come together in the streets, because of all of the support we have given each other to find and raise our voices, and because of the level of communication between us all, now possible through online media and through our ongoing determination to create a shift that reaches to everyone on this planet. It is because of our telling our stories and retelling each others’. It has taken enormous time and effort, but lately each of these waves we are building is stronger than the one before. It is all of these stories that we are sharing within World Pulse and all of the stories we continue to hear from other groups, that for me, keep me educated, keep me determined, keep me hopeful, keep me contributing alongside all of you to these growing shifts, these quantum leaps we are creating, these wonderful waves of change. We are here to do this, and we are making it happen. Let’s continue until we can ask, “Do you have food, and water, and healthcare, access to the money you need, a home and a loving community, are you free from all forms of violence, and are you flying in your own beautiful power?” and hear back “MeToo”.
This post was submitted in response to After #MeToo: Stories of Change.