Understanding #MeToo

Understanding #MeToo

By Tanya Burgess

The #MeToo social media movement created by Tarana Burke has been vindicated by victims and advocates throughout American who were victims of inappropriate and illegal mistreatment of the mind, body and soul. Since the presidential election, there has been an increased advocacy and awareness of assault, particularly by men against women in the workplace. The entertainment industry has long been seen as a cesspool of indecency where people have way too much money and power and little knowledge of how to wield them responsibly.

The allegations which have recently come to light against sports giants, actors, producers and business men in the entertainment industry is what started the movement. Those with the strength, support and opportunity to come forward with their story found a hard brick wall in their way, as they were faced with shamming and disbelief. This stigma that being victimized is a shameful experience for the survivor and that speaking on those experiences is taboo are the building blocks for rape culture in America.

So, what makes this movement necessary and is it working?

The first question many women are asked when they finally are able to speak out about their experience with sexual assault is, how did it happen? Answers to these questions are often assumed before the individual speaks. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you trusted someone you shouldn’t have, you made a mistake, you weren’t being careful, or you were doing something you shouldn’t have been doing.

This bias is inherent, most people believe that your personal safety is your responsibility because frankly there are bad people out in the world and you should simply know that. Unfortunately, that biased thinking it’s wrong; if you learn nothing from the life you’ve lived so far, it’s that there are bad people out in the world and you need to keep yourself safe. That being said, as we all understand this notion of safety, why then is it shameful when someone is attacked?

If we all understand that it is completely possible to be harmed even when you are being safe, why then is it never the person who decided to be a ‘bad guy in the world’s fault? The answer is simple, as far as women believe they have ‘come up’ in the world, we are still second-class citizens seen as the lesser or weaker sex. We are simply not as important as men.

Women have indeed come along way and we are on the road to greatness but men are still in the front of the line.

Male Privilege is Very Real

Male Privilege is Very Real

by T.L. Burgess

The Existential Crisis

America is experiencing a ‘what is happening’ feeling right now. People are realizing that men of power have been getting away with inexcusable harassment to the ‘lesser sex’ – welcome to male privilege. Since the uproar from our recent presidential election, Americans have been shocked to find that there is a serious cultural issue in this country. The country is run by rich males who are allowed to do whatever they want without any serious consequences.

Celebrities are individuals who are seen as role models. Often their actions in their personal lives are connected with their professional work if it appears they have a typical American life. Things like watching children grow up, buying a new house and getting married or divorced are all hot topics but a person is a person. Celebrities are not inherently ‘good people’ simply because the life you see in the magazines suggest it. Yet, there is always this upheaval when you realize that someone with so much power, and money and influence could do something so horrible for so long.

What Can be Done?

Yes, one issue is that people don’t report. Victim shaming is very much a contributor to this. Another issue is that traumatic experiences such as sexual assault often happens more than once. A perpetrator is likely to become a repeat offender if their victim does not report. What about the issue of privilege? Is there a reason why celebrities and Presidents get a free pass? Of course there is, because with great power comes great privilege and the safety of women under such power are inconsequential. How can we empower women, how can we empower men to use and not abuse their power, and when will consequences be equal across the board, regardless of power and money and privilege?

Visit RAIIN.org to learn more about sexual assault, find resources and ask questions.


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The Issue with the Media’s Definition of Victimization

The Issue with the Media’s Definition of Victimization

“The issue in light of debunked media accounts about campus rape is not whether to talk about rape, but how to talk about it in a more responsible way.”

– Anne Franks, University of Miami Cyber Civil Rights Initiative

Victimization in the eyes of the media includes a slew of stereotypes, an inaccurate portrayal of accounts and a lack of police investigated facts.

There is this horrible idea that being a victim has a certain number of qualifications and that society dictates whether a person is a true victim or just blowing things out of proportion.

False reports are often the baseline for who should and should not be considered a victim.

Although less than 10 percent of reports are false, it’s the representation of sexual assault and the definitions the media imposes on acts, words and behaviors exhibited by predators that ultimately harm the impact and importance of how damaging sexual assault is.

This may be a shock to some but if you searched ‘Sexual Assault’ in the Newser.com search box, you find the top news stories that pop up are using phrases like ‘no one reported’, ‘no evidence’, ‘Rape accusation’, ‘Rape was a hoax’, and ‘Suspect’.

There are plenty of other stories that pop up as well speaking more to admissions of guilt. I found this particularly interesting as I scrolled through the headliners because the majority of the articles begin by recounting the accusation and then following it up with a lack of evidence to prosecute.

So, I see this disconcerting depiction of reporting sexual assault, combined with slut shaming, general American acceptance of Rape Culture and a very pressing ‘keep quiet’ culture and I can’t really tell if the producers are trying to help or hinder with shows like Thirteen Reasons Why or movies like I Spit on Your Grave. Is feeling the revenge of a ‘victim’ truly making people understand the emotions someone feels.

Are these shows depicting ‘the perfect victim’ where if you experience anything less, then you needn’t bother others with ‘complaints’.

Is victim the right definition for all people experiencing assault? And Who decides the measure of what someone feels or how being assaulted should affect them?

Are we addressing sexual assault and rape culture properly, with respect but also determination to see things change?

By Tanya Burgess