by Katixa Mercier
I think I’m in shared company when I say that I am both excited and curious to see what 2018 has in store for us. Last year was both tumultuous and transformative. As women, we were threatened by cuts to health care and maternity leave. But so many women birthed the dawn of a new social justice with one of the most powerful social media movements: #MeToo.
In October 2017, #MeToo began to spread on Facebook and Twitter. Women were encouraged to use the hashtag in a status update or tweet if they ever experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and, consequently, injustice. What began primarily as a response to sexual misconduct allegations against one man, Harvey Weinstein, turned into something so much bigger.
As women around the world started sharing and re-tweeting, the movement went viral in just days. #MeToo began to dominate headlines as many public figures began speaking out and joined the movement. Many of those guilty of the accusations—from politicians to celebrities—continue to step down as #MeToo brings the lecherous out from the shadows and into the limelight.
Momentous strides in social justice are historical events that give me a sense of renewed faith in humanity. Exactly what I needed to tie 2017 up in a bow and kick it square in the teeth. But now what?
"Momentous strides in social justice are historical events that give me a sense of renewed faith in humanity... But now what?"
We are nearing the end of our first month in 2018. Many people plan (or did) to never eat another calorie (I’m certainly not one of them), but what’s the plan for #MeToo?
Television writer Shonda Rhimes is spearheading a movement called Time’s Up. The aim: To provide legal support to those victimized by sexual abuse and misconduct. So far, it has nearly hit its GoFundMe goal of $17 million. This response to #MeToo I can appreciate for it’s bravado; it’s bold, timely, and I hope becomes helpful to those in need.
However, if there is something worth noting about #MeToo, it's that those who were (and are) experiencing retribution for their suffering are primarily public figures. What about everyone else? It should seem that for both sides, shame is more shameful if you are well known, and retribution is delivered if you are too. As delighted as I am to see the guilty be held accountable for their actions, it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. It only continues to reprimand. So again, what about everyone else?
How do we, as a unified society, prevent further assaults? How do we create any support for victims to not feel like they have to stay hushed for fear of losing a job or worse, a secondary assault? Above all, how do we get this behavior to stop altogether?
My proposal is one of massive undertaking. It requires involvement from every human being on the planet: a paradigm shift.
As trite as this may sound, the solution is education—teaching what it means to respect one another, and the most successful candidates being children. For all of the books we have on “I have two mommies,” there isn’t a book on how not to raise a sexual predator. (Yes, there exists certain psychological exceptions, but you know what I mean.) As important as #MeToo was and continues to be to raise awareness, more is needed to solve the issue.
It will take a societal effort to reinforce a tone set by those raising future members of what is, hopefully, an egalitarian society. I am in my early thirties, the age group that is birthing the next generation. The hope is that in light of this movement, everyone will open their minds and eyes and learn how to respect one another, a vital component to the solution.
"My proposal is one of massive undertaking. It requires involvement from every human being on the planet: a paradigm shift."
To keep it going will require those very minds to raise ones alike. Back in November, I was visiting a friend in Arizona who is actively applying this very concept to her life.
Sierra Ruth has two children: a son and a daughter. I asked her how she found raising a son versus a daughter—if one was easier or less nerve-wracking than the other. Did she have concerns for her son that she didn’t have for her daughter, and vice a versa?
She said something that resonated with me and proved to me that educating little ones is in fact the solution.
She said that she surprised herself, realizing that raising her son, and now her daughter, was in fact no different. With the exception of personality, her parenting style was in fact teaching them the same thing: respect other people’s bodies like you respect your own.
This starts as a simple “don’t hit your sister” and gradually evolves into sensitivity about people’s personal comforts of space and intimacy. As Sierra Ruth encounters her son’s first crushes, she teaches him to respect his crush’s body as he has learned to respect his own.
Last year was filled with moments of revolution, and I want 2018 to continue that. But to do so, we must evolve. And the respective revolutions must do so too and be adaptable in order to be successful.
We are not finished here. The solution isn’t only to harangue the accused. That is the correct, lawful repercussion for someone who didn’t respect a person’s body. The solution is to limit the amount of future #MeToo and consequential #TimesUp scenarios.
Together, lets educate everyone, gender notwithstanding, to respect one’s own body and those of others. Over time—and with any luck—we can take #MeToo and turn it into #NotMe.
About the author: A triple threat: nerdy, always hungry, and the last one off the dance floor. Katixa Mercier lives locally and professionally marinates the Albuquerque metro area working for a boutique distributor. When not hosting a libation-centric event, she is likely cooking with her husband and dachshund, listening to vinyl.