In the age of social media and smart phones, people no longer live in the real world. Rather than savoring a meal, they post it on Instagram. Instead of setting aside time to catch up with old friends, they keep up on Facebook. In lieu of going to a party or out for a night on the town, they see what everyone is doing via Snap Stories.
These things are not bad in and of themselves, but they are indicative of an attitude to which people are highly susceptible: that what life is online is the same as the reality that exists everywhere but behind the screen of a smart phone.
The movement behind #MeToo has increased awareness for sexual assault and allowed victims to speak out about their experiences, which is a great way to begin a conversation. However, the ability to have the discussion and find the root of the problems is avoided by many of the people talking about the hashtag. Rather than the conversation being about the problem, its root causes and how to solve it, the conversation focuses on the hashtag.
“Raising awareness” is not a solution to a problem. If one knows about a fire, but doesn’t call the fire department, the fire will continue to grow. This logic holds true with #MeToo. If people do not start taking actual action, the Harvey Weinsteins of the world will continue to commit these heinous acts.
The Root Causes
There is a problem in American society with people respecting each other in general. People too often seem incapable of seeing how their actions affect others and empathizing with the reaction they may have. Individuals in our society have been lumped into collective groups, and this has caused many people to stop giving people the respect they deserve for simply being a fellow human being.
Another issue facing America is a lack of standards. Entertainment is flooded with workplace romances and bad practices. Horrible Bosses and Office Christmas Party glamorize the exact culture that this #MeToo is trying to combat. The same people who are tweeting about the horrors of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace are glamorizing it on screen. There needs to be a societal consensus on what is acceptable in the workplace.
An underlying societal issue here is society’s misunderstanding of equality. Men and women are both humans, and therefore have equal dignity. However, there is an idea that men must make themselves weaker and less imposing and women should start wearing the pants in this society. This creates men who are not gentlemen, and do not protect women or treat them differently than they would their male friends. It also creates women who are afraid of appearing weak and therefore do not seek help in a society that does have recourse for such actions.
The first thing America should do is to stop raising awareness and start taking action. Celebrities telling their tales about these horrible crimes should name the offenders so they can be stopped. Pull the offenders out of the shadows and into the light, and hope that the statute of limitations has not yet run out for them, but if it has, let them lose their ability to work due to the toxicity of their reputation at the very least.
Men should go back to chivalry. They should look out for the women in their workplace, at the bars or anywhere. Men should not make women uncomfortable or assault them. They should hold themselves to a high standard of conduct around women, and should hold each other accountable for their actions. Just don’t put your arm around a female coworker, make crude jokes in her presence or make inappropriate comments about her.
When women speak out, men must listen and empathize with their position. Sexual assault cases should be taken to the police and harassment cases to human resources or the appropriate department. As a society, the rule of law must be upheld and the proper channels should be used. Thus, the accused must be considered innocent until proven guilty and the victim must be heard, while still producing evidence and being convincing. It is a delicate balance, and it is common in most crimes from murder to theft to drunk driving. But because of the nature of this crime, it is a thin line to walk.
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