The impact of #metoo
By Shivani Jeet, Contributor
You don’t get to decide whose experiences are worthy and believable and whose experiences are ‘false’ or ‘for clout.’
It’s without any doubt that the #metoo movement founded by Tarana Burke was made as an inclusive and intersectional space for survivors of sexual assault.
Tarana Burke founded #metoo back in 2006, but it didn’t begin to trend until celebrities came forward to share their sexual assault experiences against Harvey Weinstein and other famous men. Since then, #metoo began to be used politically, personally, and in the community as a way for survivors to reclaim their power, image, and voice while showcasing their resiliency.
This phrase was created for survivors to share their experiences and finally be the narrator of their own story, but I think the internet—especially Twitter—continues to be a toxic place where rape apologists seek flaws and pick at each story. Many work relentlessly to convince themselves and others that any sexual harassment story shared is a false allegation, especially when it comes to fan favourites such as Kobe Bryant, Chris Brown, James Franco, and many more.
Victim blaming is one of the many reasons why sexual assault survivors don’t come forward. They are too often met with death threats, slut-shaming, and invalidation.
As a survivor of multiple sexual assaults, I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to believe the experiences of survivors. I’ve had my experiences invalidated too many times, all due to one thing: people having a hard time accepting the truth.
When you tell a victim that their abuser is “not someone who would do that,” it creates more harm than good. I believe this sentence alone is yet another reminder of how evident rape culture is in our society.
Just because someone gets good grades, is “friendly,” is involved in community work, or you know them well does not mean they are not capable of sexually assaulting someone. Having “good” traits means nothing; abusers are your average everyday people that hide behind a façade and groom their victims into believing nothing is wrong with them.
I am always so hesitant to share details of my experiences because of society’s definition of who a survivor can be. There isn’t a checklist of requirements of who, what, and how a survivor should appear and behave. This is a reminder that there is no “good” or “bad” survivor. As much as some claim to be advocates for social issues and sexual assault survivors, too many turn a blind eye when we find out that someone we know has been accused of being a rapist or abuser. Worse still, we turn a blind eye to the survivors.
It can be difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that someone close to us has been accused of violating someone’s privacy, but this does not mean you dismiss the experiences shared.
When it comes to supporting sexual assault survivors, I believe you cannot call yourself an ally if you do not believe all survivors. To me, you’re either a rape apologist or an ally, but you can’t be both. You don’t get to decide whose experiences are worthy and believable and whose experiences are “false” or “for clout.”
Every survivor’s experience of sexual assault is valid. When you dismiss one just because you know the abuser, you dismiss all those who have experienced sexual assault.
Survivors are the keepers of their own experiences and we get to decide how we want to share it, and who we will share it with. We all deserve to make, take, and create space and these spaces are worthy of love, respect, vulnerability, and resiliency.