It’s impossible to avoid the cultural moment that is the #MeToo movement, although stories breaking have reduced to more weekly than hourly, it is still undeniably present. And rightly so. In the midst of the madness, trauma and shock it’s easy to feel powerless, but rather than simply despair at the state of the world we need to put our thoughts into actions. This can seem intimidating but I promise it isn’t, we don’t have to single-handedly rid the world of every predator, little life changes can end up contributing the most.
It starts within ourselves
Most of all it’s all about being conscious and conscientious. The first step is recognising sexist attitudes and behavior that contributes to abuse. It starts within ourselves, focussing on the way you respond to stories of victims and then taking it out to a wider level. Thinking about how you communicate about women and men differently. Deconstructing your own perceptions first and foremost. An excellent way to get started with widening your perspectives is through the use of social media, follow the voices of those underrepresented in your daily life and online presences you follow, such people of colour, transgender people and people with disabilities. Above all, we must learn and make continued efforts to listen.
From gaining greater perspectives we are able to be critical of the world around us and the media we consume. You don’t have to necessarily start arguments and lose people to respectfully call them out when they slip up. With greater knowledge of the world and other perspectives of it you’ll be able to explain, rather than reprimand, why something a friend says isn’t exactly respectful or accurate. It will become easier and easier to recognise problems with the content you consume. This doesn’t mean that you have to stop loving F.R.I.E.N.D.S since binge watching it on Netflix this month has made you realise a good amount of the jokes are at the expense of marginalised groups. You can keep on watching till your heart’s content, just be mindful as you do of where its problems are and recognise them as legitimate and not just ‘products of the time’ that you blindly defend.
Another great way to get involved is through politically, such as through protests such as the Reclaim The Night walks organised by Devon Rape Crisis, contacting your representatives and getting involved in local government to represent your voice in the local community.
Above all it’s important to do what you can to look out for those around you. Know someone who has been a victim of harassment, assault or rape? Check in on them to see if they’re doing okay with the barrage of headlines. Going on a night out? Make sure everyone knows how they’re getting home, not alone, and safely. Help out any one you see that could be taken advantage of, even if they’re strangers. For example, offering to walk home, call a taxi or a friend for a drunk person or helping someone get away from any situation where they’re visibly uncomfortable.
If that all seems a bit daunting don’t worry, take it one step at a time. The biggest activists all started somewhere. It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you are prepared to sincerely apologise and make amends to your future behaviour. We can learn a lot from #MeToo as long as we’re willing to put the effort into our daily lives.
If you or anyone you know are affected by sexual assault related issues, do not hesitate to contact Devon Rape Crisis for support on 01392 204174 or anonymous email service firstname.lastname@example.org