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Perspectives on #MeToo and Sexual Harassment Accusations

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Perspectives on #MeToo and Sexual Harassment Accusations

Marion Hall-Zazueta

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#MeToo went viral in the wake of sexual harassment accusations made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Since then, over 1.7 million women and men have told their stories using the hashtag, and over 60 men have been accused of sexual harassment including U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, Senator Al Franken, NBC news anchor Matt Lauer, actor Kevin Spacey, and former President George H. W. Bush. Is
this a shift in American culture? Perspectives at Analy differ.

Student Mikaiya Gude summed up #MeToo saying that “when we see just hundreds and hundreds of MeToo hashtags, I think it proves that there is a large volume….it’s just become so normalized….when you finally see the numbers before you it’s really shocking.” She continued, stating that “women feel more safe to talk about it in an environment where there is solidarity,” which is what #MeToo has provided. Student Jackson Parks added that “social media is one of the most efficient ways to reach people, and if that’s how it has to start, that’s how it has to start.”

Many have noticed a discrepancy between how the accusations are being handled in industry and how they are being handled in the United States government. When asked
about his reactions, Mr. Carpenter stated “I’m disheartened by how our government is dealing with it. People in private industry are being fired and they’re being held accountable, but people in Congress and in the Senate are insulating themselves and not being held to the same standard that everybody else is.” Individuals such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer have been fired, while Roy Moore, dismissing allegations against him as “completely false and….a desperate political attack by the National Democratic Party and The Washington Post,” remains in the race. However, the Republican National Committee has since withdrawn and reinstated financing for Roy Moore and has been called upon by Mitch Mcconnell to drop out of the race.

The current system for filing a complaint in Congress involves 30 days of counseling for
the victim, 15 days of mediation, and a 30 day cooling off period. However, Ms. Curtiss believes that #MeToo will change this stating, “I know that at the state capitol they’re already talking about changing the whole system of how they….protect people and out people because….they realize that it’s not sufficient.” The students and teachers seemed to be split on whether #MeToo will lead to – or has already lead to – a major societal shift. Gude said “I don’t think it’s going to directly change things, but maybe indirectly because it’s bringing it to the surface…. and forcing both men and women to recognize the fact that sexual harassment is happening in really high volumes. Parks stated that it is “a decent start,” but he believes it is “more about specific situations and people knowing that it’s okay to stand up for someone in that specific situation, that it’s not lame or stupid.” In contrast, Mr. Carpenter said “I think we’re already changing. Do I think the problem goes away and, you know, every woman feels safer now than they did before? Maybe not, but I believe that we’ve already moved closer to a place where people in positions of power are going to be held accountable and where women feel safer because of that actually reporting.” While Mr. Carter agreed there is tangible change, he stated that “you see this major shift everywhere else [other than in the government], but … the culture’s still there.” Although Ms. Curtiss predicts changes in policy she believes culturally, this moment in time is just “a point along the way.” Ms. Elliot stated, “It would be amazing if it brought about change. You know, when you look back at history and all those events that were kind of momentous into the different changes that made our society what they were….you always hope that something big like that is going to change but for the positive and I’m anxious to see what happens.” All of the teachers and students are hopeful that these accusations and #MeToo will bring change to the culture around sexual harassment in the U.S., but it seems as though it is still too soon for people to reach a consensus on their impact. As quoted by CNN, Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, made a powerful statement. “Talking about victimization doesn’t end victimization. We need people to intervene. We need whistle-blowers. Parents need to be great role models. Ask your school, church, civic organizations, and youth sports clubs to be proactive. Walk the walk in your own home.”

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Perspectives on #MeToo and Sexual Harassment Accusations