By Alice Sleightholme, first year Geography student
The hard-hitting and ground-breaking anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movement #MeToo has been a constant feature of public conversation since its start in 2017. Although March the 8th every year is officially International Women’s Day, it’s undeniable that thanks to movements like this one and Time’s Up, 2017 and 2018 have been pivotal years for women. However, many women, and indeed men, across the globe still ask, do these movements involve me?
The answer is simply yes, to everyone that is. One of the most fundamental issues surrounding feminism and empowerment movements is the fact that men, and indeed some women, believe it doesn’t include them. Many believe feminism is simply man hating, but it’s not, nor is it the fight against men or a competition against them. Feminism is the simple belief that women are humans too, who deserve equal rights, equal pay, equal treatment and so forth.
feminism has entered the public sphere
Over time feminism has entered the public sphere, becoming a very palpable movement that is at the heart of many cultures, societies and groups. Hereafter, we welcome the #MeToo movement.
The #MeToo movement has become the forefront for empowerment movements as it has upended the public conversation about women’s issues globally and thus elevated our universal consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter, both on professional level and in daily life. Searched on Google in 196 countries last year alone, it is clear that such women’s movements are not being ignored. People have finally started to listen.
we can change cultural boundaries that leave women voiceless and unheard
Although the #MeToo movement, to the founder Burke, “specifically deals with sexual violence and is a framework for how to work towards the end of sexual violence”, the intentions – to allow women’s voices to be heard – fundamentally underline the motifs of feminism and other progressive movements. By listening to victims, enabling them stand up, have their voices heard and believed underpins feminist movements. Herein we all have a role to play. We must allow these women to stand up, we need to rally behind them, help them, hold them, love and listen to them; by doing this we can change cultural boundaries that leave women voiceless and unheard.
By believing and following the #MeToo movement in both the news and on social media I have become more aware of the daily struggles women face, even my own, that previously I did not realise. Movements like these help you realise your worth. It’s time we stood up together and achieved great things. Burke herself noted, in an interview, the pivotal importance of communities in helping to rally the larger conversation. By being a part of this conversation, even just by listening to it, we begin to improve public understanding of the issues women go through. Truthfully, it’s not just a hashtag or something else on the internet that trends for a few weeks or months – it’s a cultural transformation that encourages women to speak up about sexual violence and harassment. By speaking and listening together, as a society, it becomes easier to empower women and to fight these injustices.
Thanks to movements such as #MeToo, Billboard reported that 1 in 4 young people said that men have changed their behaviour around them. This shows the radical impact feminist movements have in society today. From social to political spheres, movements gain greater power and importance if they receive support. Take, for example, an interview, where MP Malcolmson stated that the #MeToo movement has “rung the alarm on sexual violence and it has gotten everyone’s attention, and now it’s up to us to put these changes in place”. This reveals the scale these movements can amount to and highlights the need for your support.
women are finally being listened to
The #MeToo movement’s motto is “empowerment through empathy”, proving the crucial need for us to listen and get involved – men included. It’s so important for the survivors of abuse to know they are not alone. By standing up as one, together we can fight for justice for women everywhere. Movements like these do not wish to see women advance at the disadvantage of men, nor do they want to see men fail when women succeed. Instead, they seek equal understanding, opportunities, treatment and hope for both men and women. Fundamentally, what this movement means is that women are finally being listened to. We’re slowly, but surely, coming together, which is what feminism is all about. That’s why I stand with #MeToo, do you?
As Maya Angelou once said, “each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women”. In light of this, I urge you all to get behind this movement. Even by just subscribing to their social media pages, you become a listener, a believer and help to fuel change. You become part of a movement that seeks justice in what is right and necessary for women everywhere.