#MeToo, Bringing awareness and a voice

Published on February 6, 2018 in Pacer Times, University of South Carolina Aiken’s college paper

Only recently did the “Me Too” campaign become a phenomenon but people have failed to recognize the origin of those two simple yet powerful words which were said over a decade ago.

They were first spoken in 2006 by Tarana Burke, an American civil rights activist and woman of color. Burke was hardly given the credit when the Harvey Weinstein scandals spurred the revival of “Me Too” just as the original platform was forgotten. Her grassroots movement was started specifically for sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities where there was no outreach. Although it spread, the critique of the nuanced campaign is that it left Black women out of the dialogue, according to ebony.com.

But aside from that, “Me Too” has served as an outlet of every person fearful, shameful or perceived to be unimportant. The campaign led those who couldn’t bring themselves to come forward to come forward. Sexual assault does not discriminate on race, gender or background.

Thanks to Burke, sexual assault has become a huge part of political discourse. An overwhelming number of “Me Too” posts were made on many social media platforms. There is power in numbers. Skeleton closets have been opened and continue to be.

“I was raped at 14. That’s how I lost my virginity. Then I was raped again a few months later. I went through numerous relationships where the men crossed my boundaries and I let them because I thought I had to.” said Joni Frazier, a 38-year-old Augusta resident. “The ‘Me Too’ campaign gave us ‘victims’ a voice, a platform to start a much needed conversation about sexual assault and rape.”

Frazier at the time of her assault, could not face the consequences of being honest, which would have most likely been injustice.

Amber Carter, a 23-year-old North Augusta resident and sexual assault survivor said, “[The campaign] is important because every five minutes around the world, a woman, cis or trans, will encounter unwanted advances. Women are scared to come forward because of losing a job, backlash from peers or the fear that no one believes them.”

Carter said that public safety did not take her case seriously and interrogated her to the point of confusion.

USC Aiken freshman nursing major and sexual assault survivor Cheyenne Harrison said, “He never had to face the consequences of what he did although I had to and still am.”

She was sexually abused by a family member.

“Guys are always using their power and now they are being outed for it. I applaud all the brave women coming forward,” Harrison said.

But men are sexually abused as well.

A 25-year-old North Augusta resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was made to perform oral at the age of 14 by a family friend and the attacks only worsened.

“I wish I spoke up then so I don’t have to live with it now. I think if more people spring up and work together, greater changes can happen. And those victims won’t be afraid to stand up and speak,” he said.

In the era of someone’s sexual assault or even if it is looked at retrospectively, to share the weight of these kinds of unfortunate circumstances is enlightening. Sexual abuse is pervasive and Burke’s “Me Too” campaign is evidence of this.

The campaign’s motto is “empowerment through empathy.”

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