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In hopes to create a change by expanding the conversation and decreasing the tolerance of sexual harassment. The #MeToo Movement “address both the dearth in resources for survivors of sexual violence and to build a community of advocates…”. The roots of the movement return around 2006 when Tarana Burke started the hashtag “#MeToo” to draw attention to women and girls of color who’ve been sexually harassed and assaulted. Burke contends that the Me Too movement highlights how much it affects the survivors and shows how many people all around are being sexually harassed. This movement let others know that they are understood and not alone. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are the main concerns in the #MeToo Movement. Although these terms have a variety of definitions in different places, they both deal with inappropriate sexual nature.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is “offensive remarks about a person’s sex, unwelcomed sexual advances, request for sexual favors.” Sexual harassment violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is “ a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion”, which causes it to be break civil rights laws. Examples of sexual harassment include touching a person in an inappropriate way, for example groping and kissing, sexual comments and jokes, catcalls, someone requesting favors that are sexual, persuading someone to engage with them sexually, asking about one’s sex life or discussing one’s sex life, and sending inappropriate photos or messages that are unwanted. These examples can occur anywhere, for example workplace or even at school.
There are many similarities between sexual harassment and assault. However, examples of sexual assault are considered to be more serious than examples of sexual harassment. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault is “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim”. Sexual assault includes rape, which is forcing someone to have sexual intercourse, molestation, sexually touching one against their will, and push one to execute sexual acts. Sexual assault involves criminal acts, unlike sexual harassment which breaks civil rights laws. Many may think for someone to be sexually assault, it must involve force that is physical. However, this is not always the case a victim can still be sexually assaulted by being coerced or manipulated.
I further decided to interview a young woman who shared her experience with being sexually harassed and for privacy matters the victim’s name has been changed to Cindy Williams and the perpetrator’s name has been changed to Nate. Cindy Williams is 21 years old now and at the time of the incident she was 19 years old. This December will be exactly two years from when this incident took place. One Saturday night Cindy and a few of her invited her to go out and she agreed. Cindy’s friends pick her up and when they arrived at their destination, they started to engage in conversation with others who they met. They were all gathered around a table when these guys offered Cindy and her friend a drink while her other friends left to go outside. Cindy took a shot of tequila and drank a beer, but as Cindy claims “accepting this drink was one of my first mistakes that night.” As Cindy stated, “It never occurred to me at the time that it was very strange how only my friend and I were the only ones taking drinks or how they opened our beers for us before handling it to us.” After Cindy drank her beer she only got halfway because she is not a big fan of beer. However, Nate insisted she should drink it all. After that everyone left to go get food and it was just Cindy and Nate inside his house. Nate and Cindy were on the couch watching a movie and engaging in conversation. After 10 to 15 minutes Cindy claimed that she stated to have a headache, but she ignored it and continued with the conversation. Soon after Nate leaned in for a kiss and Cindy went along with it. After a few minutes Nate insisted that they go to his room, but Cindy politely declined. Nate insisted it will give them more privacy for when their friends came back. Nate then gently pulled on Cindy’s arm to get off the couch, but as Cindy got up, she felt a wave of dizziness upon her. They got to Nate’s bedroom and sat on the bed; Cindy just wanted to talk but Nate insisted otherwise. He then proceeded to start kissing Cindy, at first Cindy wasn’t holding back. Her headache started to become stronger, but she ignored it. Nate then got on top of Cindy and proceeded to kiss her; Nate started to undo the buttons on Cindy’s shirt. Cindy stopped him and told him “No I don’t want sex.” He then pulled out a condom and said, “It was going to be fun.” Cindy told her no again and proceeded to try to get up and leave. At this point Cindy felt the dizziness come upon her only stronger. Nate told Cindy to stay still and proceeded to undo the buttons on her shirt and Cindy tried to push him off, saying “no, stop” multiple times. As every minute went by Cindy felt herself getting weaker and her voice fading away like it does when someone is falling asleep. He started to kiss her neck and she felt her eyes filled with tears, still telling him to stop. He tried undoing her bra strap and at this point Cindy just gave up and stopped saying “no” because she felt powerless. Her eyelids were struggling to stay open and her breath kept fading away. Just when she thought it was over, she heard her friends come into the house and he stops and gets scared. Then there is a loud knock on the bedroom door and someone saying, “open up” Nate replies, “we are busy” and then Cindy says loud and clear “No we aren’t.” Nate lets go of Cindy’s wrist to open the door to tell them they’re busy. At that moment Cindy got up from the bed and fell to the floor. Cindy was redoing the buttons on her shirt and got up clumsily. Nate tried to hold Cindy back, but Cindy got out the room the light in her face was like a “breath of fresh air.” Cindy then told her friends to drive her back home. After the incident, Cindy said she felt “gross, emotionless, like I wasn’t the victim.” She blamed herself and still do, she felt completely empty. Cindy says that whenever she saw Nate in the Hallways at school, she would get anxiety. This incident has impacted Cindy in a way where she doesn’t anything from anyone, she’s more aware and tries to stay sober around people she doesn’t know. Cindy says she tried not to remember this incident, but when she does emotions, she never knew she still come upon her. Cindy learned from her experiences and it left her more mentally and emotionally unstable.
Sexual harassment can affect a victim emotionally and mentally. A victim may be faced with a sense of fear, shame, humiliation, betrayed, or feel powerless. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, and a loss of motivation are some causes that a victim that was sexually harassed will face. Numerous survivors that been sexually assaulted or harassed put the fault on them self and trust that they are the one to blame and at times that is the reason it is difficult for those survivors to open up about being harassed. If someone has been harassed or assaulted, it is never their fault and they are never the ones to blame. Sexual harassment has always been a worldwide issue. Since the #MeToo movement had become popularized on social media, many people have become more aware of sexual harassment. This movement has given many victims a voice and lets them know that there are others who stand with them.
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