When the #MeToo movement first gained traction, I never imagined that I’d see the movement with my own two eyes.
But then it came to my school, Stony Brook University in New York. One of my dear friends Aleeza Kazmi had partnered with the university’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) to bring the movement to our campus.
But what made Aleeza and the FMLA feel like they had to take the movement into their own hands?
“The university never said anything about the movement from October until a week before our march,” said Aleeza. “So I wanted to let survivors know that they are not lonely.”
Stony Brook is not the only university that has students feeling like they need to stand up for themselves.
Elizabeth Dunn said that although many people at the college were open to discussing trauma, “there’s still a reluctance to publicly name the ones who have caused this pain.”
It was this reluctance that inspired her to write the post in order to protect her fellow classmates.
Even though over two dozen men were on the list, Middlebury College’s administration will not punish any of the men until they receive a formal complaint. The administration said that Dunn should do so, though she has refused. Still, the list, which has since been deleted, has circulated throughout the school and has served to warn others from potential harassment and to shame those on the list.
The #MeToo movement is also helping students in other countries take matters into their own hands.
Bay Area software engineer Luo Xixi was a student at Beihang University in Beijing over a decade ago, but it was the #MeToo movement that encouraged her to finally report a past incident of assault and attempted rape. This action helped spark what is now China’s own #MeToo movement, through which people are reconsidering the appropriate boundaries between student and educator.
Though the government is highly censoring any activity related to this movement, even glimpses of complaints or encouragement are helping Chinese victims stand up for themselves and speak up.
And that’s what the #MeToo movement is about. Even the smallest bit of encouragement can help someone get through difficult situations and gain the strength they need to stand up for themselves and others.
“Those two words that went viral just four months ago have helped so many survivors find the strength to break their silence,” Aleeza said when she addressed the crowd on our campus. “Those two words have led to the downfall of men across industries who have used and abused their power for years. And let me tell you, this is just the beginning.”
Aleeza also reminded the crowd that this movement is about more than just women. It’s about everyone.
“It is important to understand this is not a cis-women movement, this is an all people movement,” she said. “Because 1 in every 10 rape victims is a man and 21 percent of transgender, genderqueer and nonconforming college students are sexually assaulted.”
And then we marched. There were over 200 people of all different backgrounds there to support the movement. Some held signs that read “#MeToo is not a fad, it’s a revolution” or “She’s somebody, not just some body.” We also repeated chants, such as “Our bodies, our choice” and “Sexual harassment? Time’s up!” I had never felt like I was a part of something so big or so important before.
The march made me realize that Aleeza is right: this is just the beginning. With trailblazers worldwide planning marches, speeches, and protests, we have to hope that persistence and determination will help us make a change for ourselves and future generations. So we’ll keep marching, fighting, protesting, writing…whatever it is that we each can do to break down gender barriers and stand up for the #MeToo movement together.
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