#MeToo: Changing a culture of sexual harassment and assault

Alyssa Milano

(The Guardian). Thousands of women AND men had replied to Alyssa Milano's tweet by Monday morning and thousands more have posted the words "me too" on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I literally can not name one female friend or client who hasn't been affected by sexual predatory behavior, and seeing all the people in my life come forward on social media with the simple "Me Too" declaration is an ongoing profound experience.

Moreover, Lewinsky is on record as saying the former first lady always had an impulse to "blame the woman" when it came to allegations of sexual misconduct. I have to figure out what healing looks like for myself, and then I have to help my perpetrator?

Like Reese Witherspoon, I was raped by a Hollywood director. "I'm here#MeToo", wrote a woman identified as Amy Christensen on her Twitter account. And that's what I hope to provide for folks in the coming weeks and days. But how can we do this?

While many media outlets credited Milano with the trending topic, it was actually Tarana Burke, a Black woman, who originated the "Me Too" catchphrase back in 2007. In solidarity, women have power. We become silenced over a sustained period of time in which everything we do and say is subject to questioning, cross-examination and ultimately dismissal.

Before I go into my personal experiences, let me lay out sexual harassment for you (just in case you're not aware). Can the same defense be used by Bill Cosby? Also sadly predictable were some men who tried to dismiss the crushing weight of the stories by saying 'stop villianising men', 'why are women making this about themselves' and 'you're so judgemental about men'. A longtime women's activist, the 60-year-old Taylor founded a training organization 20 years ago called Defend Yourself, helping women learn "empowerment defense" to ward off physical and emotional attacks in all aspects of their lives.

One scientific fact at play here is that testosterone is an intoxicating chemical. Those from other countries also expressed the same feeling.

Harvey Weinstein was apparently free to sexually abuse women because he, like other men in the entertainment industry, yielded so much power. No sympathy, no defence, no #NotAllMen, no tell me again what harassment really is aka let's make it all about me.

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Yes, it might be awkward and they might not thank you for it in the short term, but you can't fight the good fight without rocking the boat.

I was a Playboy bunny and have hosted many sex-themed radio and TV shows. Several men tweeted #IHearYou with messages of apologies for the collective male attitude towards women and with a simple assurance that they weren't there to offer women advice (about time!), but are here to simply listen. This means my point of view of what "can" be tolerated - not that it should ever be - will be different from the next person's.

She has been tweeting some of the hundreds of responses, anonymous stories ranging from recent experiences to some dating back two decades - primarily involving women, sometimes minors and occasionally men. That's classic unwanted behavior, yet she had a visceral, positive reaction to being treated as "f**kable at 50", to quote Hollywood lingo.

But maybe something we overlook in these critiques is how powerful it can be for women to see each other speak out against commonplace experiences that we've dismissed ourselves, or brushed off and tried to tell as light-hearted stories. But what about the predatory culture-at-large? And while it all started with The New York Times'exposé on film executive Harvey Weinstein, the campaign has exposed how prevalent the problem is everywhere. At best, we can conclude that when many, many women share similar stories of harassment, assault or rape, the scope of the crime seems to break through a cultural barrier of disbelief. We have to create movements ourselves.

Call out your friends' bad behaviour.

.

Whether you know it or not, you do know a survivor of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and we all need to operate based on that premise instead of necessarily forcing people to come forward with all of their painful stories. And as we heal, we can slowly change this culture from one of prey vs. predator to one of equality and consent.

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