By Zemlja Franicevic
I am sure we all remember the outbreak of sexual assault allegations against famous male actors, comedians, and politicians last year, as there were too many to forget. These allegations sparked one of the most powerful movements the United States has ever seen–the MeToo movement–a movement aimed at breaking women’s silence around sexual harassment and sexual assault. The movement went viral in October of 2017 as a hashtag used on social media to display the widespread and pervasive nature of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. However, how is the MeToo movement continuing on in 2018, and how have women been affected by politicians around the United States in light of the recent Kavanaugh hearing and confirmation?
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The recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault by a woman named Christine Blasey Ford, sparked a resurgence of the MeToo movement. In a deeply personal speech in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dr. Ford stated that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party when they were in high school. Despite Dr. Ford’s brave and heart wrenching testimony and the hundreds of women protesting outside of Capitol Hill, Brett Kavanaugh still got confirmed to our country’s highest court. After Kavanaugh’s confirmation, many women across the United States felt helpless, but refused to stay silent, holding up signs baring the words, “Me Too.”
A year has passed since the MeToo movement’s powerful and lasting impact, but we have yet to see any substantive actions aimed at preventing sexual assault and harassment. Some high-profile men who were accused of sexual misconduct last year, such as Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Kevin Spacey, and Les Moonves, were removed from their famous jobs due to the allegations against them. However, other powerful men, like President Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh, have remained in the most powerful positions, despite a plethora of sexual assault allegations against them.
While some employers have made more of an effort to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual assault continues to be an issue that needs more attention. The emotional cost of coming forward, as hard as it already is, has not lessened for many survivors. After seeing the mass amount of death threats that were sent to Dr. Ford, women may decide that the costs of coming forward and naming their perpetrator outweigh the costs of staying silent. Though the Kavanagh confirmation created doubt as to the impact of the MeToo movement on women in 2018, it has also resulted in an outpouring of support from many sexual assault survivors and their allies. Women are more empowered now than ever to elect women into office and to vote for politicians that advocate for the interests of sexual assault survivors. If we should look to anything to evaluate the effectiveness of the MeToo movement, it shouldn’t be Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but the midterm elections in November. Women all across the country are ready to exercise their civic duty and let their voices be heard. Let the #MeToo movement rise again!