#MeToo – A Well Overdue Wildfire

#MeToo – A Well Overdue Wildfire

Shivani Manikandan, Contributing Reporter

Week after week, the accusations pile in with denials to match. This is the current state of victims of sexual harassment. We appreciate the bravery of the ones who speak up, only to patiently wait till their fires fizzle out.

It has been months since the beginning of the #MeToo movement, and looking back on everything that has happened, all I can say is that I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed by the sheer number of accusations, by the plethora of well-educated and influential people involved in these scandals, and most of all, by the preventative actions we are taking–or rather, the lack of preventative actions.

This is not to say that nothing resulted from the #MeToo movement. Prior to the movement, we placed ourselves in a bubble of willful ignorance, creating for ourselves a false reality. We told ourselves that many of the victims of sexual harassment speak up because they’re motivated by a desire for fame, attention, revenge, or any other insignificant reason we can fathom. We convinced ourselves that with time, any accusations, no matter how serious, would slowly disappear. However, the #MeToo movement drew open the curtains to the truth. The voice of one victim alone may be easy to ignore, but when an overwhelming number of victims speak up for their rights, you cannot help but hear them. And once their stories open your eyes, it is impossible to return to false realities.

Now, a new question emerges. If victims are willing to endure scrutiny from people all around the world, do we not owe it to them to not only take their story seriously but to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself? Simply put, long-term action must be taken immediately. Already, most stories have grown stale and fallen from the headlines. Time is of the essence.

One well-publicized story in recent times was Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Brett Kavanaugh. The only reason that this was not a mere sentence on the gossip column is the timing of the accusation. Kavanaugh was accused while he was nominated to be a Supreme Court justice, and as a result, the public and the government felt more obligated to intervene and come to some conclusion. After a long and exhausting controversy, the issue was finally settled quietly and Kavanaugh was sworn into the Supreme Court. Regardless of personal opinion on the case, the outcome says it all. He proceeded to become a Supreme Court justice despite the evidence and accusations against him. The state of the victim? Who was she again?

What worries me the most is not the victims of the past, but the victims yet to come. What message are we sending to future generations if we establish that even if you accuse a soon-to-be Supreme Court justice, within weeks you will be forgotten? Many others who were similarly accused were actors, political leaders, CEOs, and various people of influence. They are role models for the younger generation, so how we handle the allegations against them sets a precedent for future allegations as well. Movements like #MeToo have decided to speak up, because these issues have been swept under the rug for too long. That’s an important start, but all is meaningless if no action is taken. We have a bright spark. If it isn’t used in a timely manner, it will flicker away. But if we nurture it and allow it to grow, it could soon become a wildfire.