by Sarah Harris
A few days ago, I was aimlessly scrolling through Twitter in the depths of the night, when I came across a few people on my timeline engaging in a conversation. They were arguing about how the #MeToo Movement had become an opportunity for people to ‘seek attention’ and ‘get revenge.’ It was disinheriting to see one of the most powerful movements in the history of not just feminism but the world, being so inaccurately depicted.
Just a few weeks ago, the #MeToo Movement got the victory that had fuelled its entire foundation – the imprisonment of former movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein. The Movement first gained attention in 2017 when actress, Alyssa Milano, posted on Twitter, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Since then countless celebrities from Jennifer Anniston to Gwyneth Paltrow, have shared their #MeToo stories.
“Almost every girl I’ve met since I started my journey at Cardiff University, has a #MeToo story of their own”
And when you take a moment to really think about the severity of this, it’s shocking. How many of us know at least 1 or 2 women who have shared their own #MeToo status on social media? Almost every girl I’ve met since I started my journey at Cardiff University, has a #MeToo story of their own, whether they’ve chosen to share it or not.
It’s important to keep the conversation ongoing. Like almost anything that sparks a little controversy, the #MeToo Movement has become somewhat of a taboo topic that we either completely avoid or tread around carefully when really, it should be more prevalent than ever.
A Channel 4 investigation in 2019 found that there had been an 82% increase in reports of sexual assaults made directly to Universities, with 626 individual reports in 2018 alone. And those are just the small minority of people who have chosen to come forward. Thousands of victims of assault and harassment go without ever coming forward, which has a detrimental effect on not just their University experiences but also their mental and physical health.
The arrest of Weinstein may have been a huge victory for the #MeToo Movement, but realistically we still have a long way to go. Sexual Assault is a much wider problem than rape, it can constitute of almost any form of non-consensual physical activity. People have lost their jobs for placing their hands-on women’s thighs or making inappropriate derogatory comments and rightfully so.
As our rights develop and progress, so should the rights to our bodies and that includes our mental wellbeing. We should be able to go Pryzm without the fear of being grinded on by a random passer-by. We should be able to walk through the streets of Cathays without the fear of being followed home or attacked. We should be able to run through Bute Park without the fear of someone jumping out of the bushes and attacking us. But we’re still a far way away from reaching this reality. And the only way to eventually get there is by continuing to be vocal and raising awareness on this problem. The #MeToo Movement gives us the opportunity to do so.