Opinion: #MeToo Has Unclear Impact at Lamoille

By Faith Garrett

#MeToo. These words invoke hope in some and fear or anger in others. Either way, there’s no denying that these two little words have immense power. 

The movement was created ten years ago by Tarana Burke but was popularized by Alyssa Milano. In October 2017, Milano posted a tweet simply asking those who have been victims of sexual assault to reply with #MeToo.

Dozens of people have been accused of sexual assault, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Lena Dunham, Matt Lauer, and an abundance of others.

It is undeniable that almost every American is now well-aware of the #MeToo movement and the repercussions one can face when they are accused of sexual assault. 

Our school’s definition of sexual assault is: “…​unwelcome​ ​conduct​ ​of​ ​a​ ​sexual​ ​nature,​ ​that​ ​includes​ ​sexual​ ​violence/sexual​ ​assault,​ ​sexual advances,​ ​requests​ ​for​ ​sexual​ ​favors… Sexual​ ​harassment​ ​may​ ​also​ ​include​ ​student-on-student​ ​conduct​ ​or​ ​conduct​ ​of​ ​a​ ​non-employee​ ​third​ ​party​ ​that​ ​creates​ ​a hostile​ ​environment.”

How has the Me Too movement affected our community? Has it made people realize that they can and will be held accountable for their actions? 

Mr. Parker summed up the responses of other interviewees by saying that the Me Too movement is about “calling out a system of behavior that… has been in place a long time and has remained largely untalked about.” 

All the teachers I interviewed agreed that they have not seen much of a change in the behavior of their students, but Mr. Mitiguy believes that “by and large, you guys have a tendency to call each other out on this stuff.”

The responses to a Google survey I sent to the student body were similar to those of the teachers. 

Of 58 responses, 74% of respondents disagreed with the statement “The #MeToo movement has changed our school culture by reducing sexual harassment.” One respondent said, “There are a few males in this school who do questionable things, like saying degrading things to their female peers.”

71% of respondents disagreed with the statement “The movement has changed the behavior of my peers.” 

One respondent felt so strongly against the movement that they wrote two paragraphs about how the movement has “gone radical,” thus causing them to “lose almost all respect” for it. 

In the second paragraph of their rant, they said that “the school system has become a prison.” This person believes that sexual harassment – which they have confused with sexual assault – cannot happen because of this alleged lack of freedom. 

 The most memorable part of the essay is the final two sentences: “…If you are part of the #MeToo movement as a teenager, you probably have bad parents or are making bad decisions. That’s on you.” 

These sentences are representative of our culture of blaming victims rather than abusers. By this person’s logic, a few liars (3 in 100, in fact) discount hundreds of credible victims. 

Ms. Toof said the movement was created to “show the world that this is a prevalent problem, and so females who have been victims don’t feel so alone.” For so long, victims of sexual harassment and assault have been forced to remain quiet in order to protect the careers of abusers. 

The Me Too movement has given hundreds of victims, including women in my own family, the courage to speak up about their experiences. 

If you are personally offended by the Me Too movement because you think it is somehow unjust, sit down and think about why you are so threatened by victims calling out their abusers.

Maybe it’s because you know deep down that you have made some of the same mistakes as those abusers and you just don’t want to admit that you are flawed in the same way as them.

If you can’t admit that you exhibit toxic behaviors and that those behaviors harm others, that’s on you. 

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