Time’s Up, #metoo, and the Women’s March: Movements That Break Silence

I honestly, truly never thought that I would see this day.

I’m young! There’s no disputing that. I’ve only been alive for 24 years, and—strictly speaking—they’ve been 24 of the best years for women on record. I never had to grow up knowing that I’d be a baby-making instrument for some man that I didn’t love; I never had to suffer without a chance for representation; my dreams were never truly denied to me because I’m a woman.

Nonetheless, I know strife. Just like the rest of you do! I know what it’s like to be followed at night. I know what it’s like to be grabbed on a busy train by somebody I don’t know. I know what it’s like to smile and nod when a man frightens me. I know what it’s like to be ignored, shot down and told to shut up because I’m a woman. I know what it’s like to suffer the unwanted advances of coworkers and friends of friends, because heaven forbid a man and a woman catch a movie together and not fuck.

But it’s changing. As it always does. Progress’s march is inevitable, and the cultural tone is shifting, and it’s f*****g amazing.

 

If you’ve got a pulse, you’ve surely heard of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. You’ve probably heard ScarJo’s voice empower us at the Women’s March on the anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration. You’ve probably heard Natalie Portman talk about men writing her rape fantasies when she was 13 years old. If you’re as invested in this change as I am, you’ve probably heard every single heart-wrenching story that’s been shared publicly and unashamedly, from Hollywood celebrities to your own friends and families.

And if you’re a man and you didn’t know—well, now you do. The curtains have been drawn. The door’s been opened. There are no excuses now, because at long last we have been emboldened and empowered and granted the courage to speak loudly and proudly about our shared victimization, and the cruelty of the patriarchal society we were born into.

It all started with the hashtag #MeToo. Actress Alyssa Milano encouraged other women to share their stories of assault with the hashtag #MeToo, and it quite literally exploded across social media, from the TwittoSphere to Facebook to… well, everywhere. This wasn’t an eye-opening experience for women. We all knew already. We knew we shared these experiences. But all at once we were free to talk about them—to each other, and to everyone else—without fear of reprisal or backlash.

The latter half of 2017 brought with it a rash of sexual assault allegations made against famous and powerful men. The empire was crumbling, brick by brick, as every dirty secret about every dirty bastard was dragged into the spotlight.

 

Proud. #WomensMarch #PowerToThePolls

A post shared by Alyssa Milano (@milano_alyssa) on

In December, TIME announced its annual Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers, as represented by a slew of famous women and one faceless woman in solidarity, each sharing their own stories of assault and abuse. I cried like a little girl—and I am, in fact, crying now—as I read about their stories, and saw the way in which TIME had honored their bravery and encouraged this change.

Then, in January, an open letter was published in the New York Times by over 1,000 credited actors. Its message was simple: that each and every signee of the letter was unwilling to stand down and let women be discouraged or held back professionally, and that the time of male-dominated workplaces was coming to an end.

These movements have been, unsurprisingly, polarizing. Many men clamor to point out that not all men are rapists, as if that somehow fixes the problem—or absolves them of their complicity in a society that perpetuates rape culture and open warfare against women. Many disgusting people defend blatant rapists, openly harassing victims and blaming them for their assaults.

 

What was surprising, though, was just how many people came together because of these movements. Both men and women have been united, despite the naysayers, the doubters and the unempathetic. Many men have shared their own stories of assault, like Terry Crews, who now faces constant persecution and threats directed at his family for speaking out.

Me Too (#metoo) and Time’s Up have brought our society together for a change that I never thought was possible. The coverage has been beautiful, every step of the way—from major outlets to small blogs—and we’re discovering, slowly but surely, that we can change the world together. That we can be a part of something larger than ourselves by sharing our hurt and our sorrow and letting them be transformed into beauty and inspiration.

 

Just like hundreds of others, I almost posted the most popular women’s day quote, then it hit me, and it hit me hard…This day is not about strong women. It’s simply about women. So, HERE’S TO WOMEN. 🖤 Here’s to women who are oppressed, to women who don’t have a choice, to women who can’t use their voices. Here’s to women who are tired of pretending to have it all together, tired of pleasing people, tired of trying to be the perfect moms and the perfect wives, who are sick of society pressuring them to act and look in a certain way. Here’s to women who feel weak, who feel like they are at the end of their rope. Here’s to women who are working hard day and night to prove that their gender shouldn’t affect their salary, their position and their opportunities. Here’s to women who feel like they worth more when they have a man on their side. Here’s to women who are not where they want to be yet, who thought they would be married with 3 kids by this time but still haven’t found their significant others. Here’s to women who had their dreams crushed, their plans destroyed. Here’s to women who feel like they are not pretty, not smart, not strong enough. Here’s to women who mess up, who are turning into a crazy mess at least once a month, who get way too emotional even about tiny things, who overthink, overreact, over complicate. Here’s to women, not just the strong ones, but to all. Here’s to us. // But also here’s to rising up, empowering each other and getting stronger and stronger each day. 💪🏼Happy international women’s day. #internationalwomensday2018 #coffeecupnotes #iwd2018

A post shared by lídia gulyás ↟↟↟ (@lidiaontheroad) on

If the last six months have taught me anything, it’s that the most beautiful flowers grow at night… and that, together, we may yet pave the way for a future where our daughters and our daughters’ daughters will never need to blame themselves for being a victim.

Author: Billie Hauk

24-year-old Tennessee local yokel, part-time LGBTQ+ journalist and blogger.

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