OHS declares “Me Too”

OHS+declares+%22Me+Too%22

Emily S. '19

As of recent, the “Me Too” movement has caught fire through hashtags as a social media trend, as well as a rally cry for people to share their stories of sexual assault. While the term sexual assault is usually associated with rape, it includes any sexual act or attempted sexual act which occurs without one’s consent. This includes but is not limited to: rape, groping, child molestation, forcible sodomy and sexual harassment.

The movement became popular when several Hollywood actresses filed sexual assault allegations against film producer and film studio executive Harvey Weinstein. This, however, was not the start of the movement. According to CNN, Tarana Burke started “Me Too” more than 10 years ago. It began as a way for women of color to share and cope with their experiences of sexual assault.

“I think the one responsibility we have as survivors, once we get to a place where we can, is to create an entry point of healing for other survivors,” Burke told CNN. “For years I couldn’t figure out what that would be for me and then ‘Me too’ became that thing.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, teens who are 16-19 are three and a half times more likely to be the victim of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. Thirty-five and a half percent of sexual assaults occur to people 12-17 years of age. High schoolers are not immune to this horror.

“I think sexual assault does happen to high schoolers, but it’s not as easily recognized. It could happen in a relationship or at a school dance, where the victims should feel safe but don’t. To help the problem, high school students and staff need to talk about the issue more, which would promote acceptance for the victims,” junior Delaney R. said.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter their gender or the color of their skin. This makes sexual assault a human issue, not just a women’s issue.

Natalie Spiert is the Assistant Director of the Civility and Empowerment Program and Sexual Violence Support Coordinator at The Ohio State University. She works with those on campus who have been sexually assaulted either in the past, or while they’ve been on campus, and works to educate college students on the issue.

“The ‘Me Too’ movement needs to be about ‘what now?’ How can we go further with change? It relies on all people to create long-term social change, so that we are still not saying ‘Me Too’ in 10 years,” Spiert said.

Spiert believes “the simple message of kindness can go a long way,” and it is it important to have these difficult conversations. When people are more comfortable and confident with themselves, they are more likely to stand up for themselves when they have been wronged.

“There’s such a stereotype around the people who come out and say they are victims of sexual assault. They are slut shamed and are not viewed as victims, but as instigators,” sophomore Madison V. said.

High schoolers can take part in this moment by standing up for themselves and being supportive when people come out with their stories. By being kind to others, and not blaming the victim, people will be more likely to share their stories because they won’t feel like they will be ridiculed or undermined.

“It’s not a place for our opinion. We need to help and not judge [those who share stories of sexual assault]. When we feel judged, we don’t want to speak out again,” Spiert said.