Editorial: Raising our voices, telling your stories
On Sunday, actress Alyssa Milano, one of the women who has alleged she was sexually harassed or assaulted by film producer Harvey Weinstein, composed a tweet:
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
On Monday, there were hundreds of thousands of #MeToo tweets and Facebook posts from women and men across the world, each detailing an experience or thought on sexual assault, harassment and abuse.
Some of these messages were supportive. Others were regretful. Some were angry, fearful, hopeful, confused.
The total number of responses continues to grow by the minute.
And now, it seems all eyes are on the issue of sexual harassment, assault and abuse. The “Me Too” movement continues to bring more stories to the front lines and now we’re all paying attention.
It’s great the movement has taken off and we’re talking about the issue. It’s a powerful way to start realizing how many of us are victimized, not just at MSU, but also in parts of the world away from Grand River Avenue.
That’s what usually happens — when everyone’s talking about an issue people start to listen.
But at what point should we start paying attention? At what point should it become a “situation” or “problem”?
How many of us need to speak up before allegations of sexual harassment, assault or abuse are taken seriously?
Most of us will face these kinds of situations at least once in their lifetimes. Many of us will experience sexual harassment, assault or abuse multiple times in our lives. Even if you haven’t experienced any of this yourself, it’s unimaginable that you don’t know someone who has.
Just look at the number of people who have shared their stories through “Me Too.” At this point, the number is more than eight million people on Facebook alone. It stirs much-needed conversation, but we can’t allow the conversation to die down after #MeToo stops trending.
The problem is not new. Those of us who have experienced sexual assault, harassment and abuse are not just starting to speak up now — we have been speaking up. It’s an issue that has always been present.
We all have an obligation to help solve the problem. Just having these conversations is the first step. As an MSU student, staff member or member of the community, we have the ability to lead these dialogues. We have the ability to pay attention to this issue locally and nationally. We have the ability to listen.
MSU has an obligation to listen, too, and that means paying attention to a situation from the very beginning, not just after a certain number of us speak out.
Sexual assault, harassment and abuse becomes a “situation” and a “problem” as soon as it occurs. Allegations should be taken seriously as soon as one of us has them.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to pay attention.
And yes, “Us, Too.”
In writing this editorial, State News newsroom employees were asked if they were willing to step forward and say #MeToo. Twelve staff members have attached their names. Seven of us are on the State News Editorial Board. Many more of us might not be ready to share our stories, or even note that we have them.
If coming forward helps anyone feel less alone, that by itself would make this worth it. But for a chance to change our culture, to send the message that this is not okay, coming forward is the beginning of what we can do.
For the past year, we have spoken with alleged victims. We have attended court cases. We have analyzed MSU’s responses and actions to sexual assault controversies. But we can learn something from these stories. We are constantly adapting how we share stories that have this much impact.
The State News is paying attention to you. We are listening to you. Your stories of sexual assault, abuse and harassment don’t go unnoticed.
If you’re willing to share, we’ll be here with pens poised and notebooks ready.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault and want to share your story, please email or call the newsroom at (517) 295-5149. To report experienced sexual harassment or assault to local authorities, call MSUPD at (517) 355-2221 or the ELPD at (517) 351-4220.
The State News Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief Rachel Fradette, Managing Editor McKenna Ross, Campus Editor Brigid Kennedy, City Editor Riley Murdock, Features Editor Sasha Zidar, Sports Editor Sam Metry, Copy Chief Blair Baeten, Staff Representative Madison O'Connor and Inclusion Representative Souichi Terada.