Last Friday Night: Talk the talk

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Karli Wachtel

Everyone has their hidden demon, an experience they would rather bury than let surface.

One out of every six women in America has been victim of attempted or completed sexual assault, and one out of every 10 victims of sexual assault is male.

Sometimes statistics like these go in one ear and out the other because it is difficult to quantify the severity of this terror. Many don’t realize the extent to which sexual harassment and assault occur.

#MeToo is an online movement that illuminates the frequency of this very real issue.

“#MeToo. Suggested by a friend: 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,” actress Alyssa Milano wrote on Twitter.

In light of the recent “revelations” in the media regarding powerful men taking advantage of women for their own benefit, the #MeToo campaign promotes unity and support for victims of sexual harassment and assault. I am proud of Milano, the individuals who have the courage to participate in this campaign and those still figuring out how to share their personal experiences.

I am proud to be a woman on this campus, and I am grateful for my education at Lehigh. Throughout my three and a half years here, I have been blessed with professors and peers that promote the importance of challenging different ways of thinking.

I am encouraged in the classroom to voice my opinions. I am comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas publically — peers encourage me to be provocative and honest.

It is important to bring topics to light that are sometimes buried by the pure fear of having difficult conversations. It is important to be brave and tell stories that are often hidden behind closed doors.

With all this in mind, it is not always easy to confidently lay your raw thoughts and emotions out on a page. It is scary to be vulnerable when it comes to hard-hitting topics. Using the voice you are given takes extreme courage.

I want to stress that people who are working up that courage to tell their stories will be supported. They will be heard.

#MeToo.

Not everyone has had the support system or the comfort to share their stories, but today more than ever victims are given the tools and platforms to share their stories. The #MeToo campaign is just one example of people taking a step in the right direction to condemn sexual harassment and assault while simultaneously calling out predators.

#MeToo starts the conversation.

It’s upsetting that I need to state the obvious: Sexual harassment and assault are never, and will never, be OK.

It is common for victims of sexual harassment and assault to feel scared, trapped or unworthy. Sharing experiences on social media pages, let alone with a close friend, is a struggle for many.

But we are in an age of rapid unity, where many social and cultural movements occur online. Different platforms across social media welcome the spread of movements and ideas, and the #MeToo movement is currently at the forefront of these movements.

Social media not only gives women the platform to share their stories — it provides them a community for support.

#MeToo starts the conversation about how common sexual harassment and assault is. It provides a stepping stone to a course of action.

How do we turn this rapid unity and public conversation into forward-moving productivity?

Talking the talk is a powerful course of action to take when it comes to sexual assault and harassment because it shines a light on the extent of the issue. Give people a platform to talk the talk, and together, they will find opportunities to walk the walk.

The #MeToo campaign is a step in the right direction. It begins the conversation, exposes the frequency of sexual harassment and assault and brings overall awareness to the issue. The conversation gets everyone on the same page.

Intervene when you see something wrong happening, be a support system for your friends who have been affected and don’t let predators fly under the radar. Let’s lend support to one another by talking about the issues. Let’s make a change by standing our ground.

Action needs to be taken. Talking the talk is great, but as a community, we need to prevent idleness. Let’s walk the walk.

Karli Wachtel, ’18, is a columnist and reporter for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]

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