Now that you’ve heard and know all about the #MeToo movement (if you don’t know, check out our other article that’s all about the #MeToo movement), you might be wondering, what am I supposed to do now? Well, on one hand you could file all the information away in your “Nice to know” brain folder, or you could try to make some changes, big or small, that will end up impacting both yours’s and others’ lives. The power of the #MeToo movement lies in the things we do after all is said and done, and here are just some of the things everyone can do to help out.
1. Break the pattern of silence
In the wake of Harvey Weinstein, many people have begun to realize the devastating impacts of silence on sexual assault and harassment. Silence has always given predators their power, and one of the most notable examples of this has always been the fact that while committing sexual assault is not a career ender for most actors, speaking up about being sexually assaulted is (Moore, 2017). In the wake of #MeToo, it is important that we all work together to change this culture of silence. The act of speaking up isn’t just a victims’ job, but the job of witnesses, persons with knowledge, family, friends, and everyone else around us who may know about some form of abuse or harassment going on, but are on the fence to say something about it. If we want to start changing the stigma surrounding sexual violence, then we have to start by being a community that is vocal about not tolerating it in the first place.
2. Engage others in discussion about why things need to change and how they can change
Speaking up is one thing, engaging others in discussion is another. Once you’re able to show others what behaviors aren’t tolerated, some may wonder why this and that needs to be done. The climate around sexual assault and harassment goes beyond stigma, its developed into a pattern of behaviors that are so ingrained into our culture many of us don’t question our reactions and actions in response to these issues. Turning a blind eye, keeping quiet, victim blaming, and others like them are all a part of this culture, and many of them are actually attitudes and beliefs that we don’t even realize we are carrying. Psychologist Hugo Mercier said in his study that the best way to change someone’s beliefs and behavior is not to have arguments with them demanding that they change instantly, but it is actually to engaged them in a discussion where both parties have their thoughts and ideas acknowledged, respected, and debated about. The study showed that people who actually sat down and took the time to listen to the other side and acknowledge their points before delivering theirs were more likely to change the mind of the person they were talking to (Mercier, 2017). Engaging people in discussion is important if we want to change how people see sexual violence, but we have to remember to do so with the same kindness and empathy we aim to promote.
3. Have the initiative and openness to learn and ask questions about what needs to be done
After the movement of #MeToo, many others started tweeting another hashtage inspired movement with the title of #HowIWIllChange. While mostly coming from men, the hashtag emphasizes the ways that people vow to change in response to the stories of sexual abuse and harassment that have come out. Many reader of the #HowIWillChange have applauded those who have taken the initiative to see what they can do for those around them, but there are still those who ask that people take the time to ask what the needs are and how they can be met. People are claiming that reforms need to be made not just on a personal level, but also on the levels of office work policies, media and the justice system (Zillman, 2017). Many are claiming that changing the discussion also involves changing how the people in positions of power in places like work, media, and the government see and treat the issue of sexual violence, and that in order for true change to happen, reforms and policies need to be taken in place. These are the types of things most people won’t know unless they take the time to learn about them, and ask those affected the deeper underlying needs in society. Taking the initiative to learn may not result in life changing matters in the beginning, but little steps, and spreading the motion may eventually lead to the change that the issues of sexual harassment and assault needs to see.
These are just three basic things that you can do after the #MeToo movement. On a more personal level, there are more things you can do that can either support your loved ones who have been victims of sexual violence or ensure their safety and that of those around them. #MeToo has started a movement, and now, it is up to us to make sure it’s a movement that does not go to waste.
Mercier, H. (2017). The trick to persuading people you’re right, according to experimental psychology. Quartz. Retrieved 11 November 2017, from https://qz.com/957063/how-to-change-someones-mind-according-to-psychologist-hugo-mercier/
Moore, S. (2017). Silence is the sexual abuser’s friend. Those who know, must speak up | Suzanne Moore. the Guardian. Retrieved 11 November 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/09/silence-sexual-abuser-allegations-harvey-weinstein
Zillman, C. (2017). From #MeToo to Now What? 7 Actions That Could Help Stop Sexual Harassment. Fortune. Retrieved 13 November 2017, from http://fortune.com/2017/10/20/me-too-stopping-sexual-harassment/