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COLUMN: Following up on #MeToo predictions

In mid-October, #MeToo, a hashtag empowering sexual assault victims to speak out, went viral on Facebook and Twitter. At that time, I wrote a column commenting on how this hashtag would be different than other social media movements and how it had the potential to lead to actual offline change.

About a month and a half later, I can say with confidence that in a lot of ways, this hashtag has helped spark an adjustment in U.S. culture toward taking sexual assault seriously. 

The public admonishment, and in many cases, firing of powerful men such Harvey Weinstein, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, and Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, is proof of this. 

Companies such as Massage Envy are promising to look at business practices and punishment systems to decrease the chances of sexual assault. 

In many ways, #MeToo did open up the conversation about sexual assault and empower victims to speak out regarding their oppressor without fear of not being taken seriously or being chastised for doing so. 

But there is still a long, long way to go. 

Yes, there have been celebrity cases in which those perpetrating sexual assault have been fired or chastised. 

However, there are an infinite amount of sexual assault cases that have had no light or justice shed on them. One out of six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

From a legislative and judicial standpoint, ensuring that those accused of sexual assault have due process and are not subject to libel in the media, but are still prosecuted appropriately for the severity of the crime is critical.

For example, Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted for sexually assaulting a woman in March 2016, is appealing his conviction. In cases where sexual assault is so obvious and there are primary witnesses, punishing those found guilty severely and properly is necessary moving forward.

And lastly, the fact that I even have to mention this person is exhausting, but I would be remised if I did not bring up our current commander-in-chief. 

The current culture in our nation is to take away power and influence from those that have been accused by multiple people of sexual assault, which is a positive adjustment. This is especially true if there is video, audio or written evidence of sexual assault culture surrounding the accused.  

This new open conversation about sexual assault has completely discredited one of the nation’s most beloved morning hosts, one of Hollywood’s biggest influences and various members of the legislative branch of our government. 

Society is holding men of power in various different career fields to this standard of human decency. 

So why should our President, who meets the criteria of having multiple victims speak out and has been caught on an audio recording speaking about sexually assaultive behaviors, be exempt from all of this? 

The President of the United States is historically held in regard of being a moral backbone of the nation. 

I believe that honest legislative, judicial and executive change surrounding sexual assault cannot begin until the most powerful man in this country is chastised appropriately for his actions.


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