In the wake of a series of revelations regarding media mogul Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo campaign trended across social media sites. Created by Tarana Burke to demonstrate the ubiquity of sexual assault and harassment in society, the current #MeToo campaign has inspired many victims of sexual abuse to speak out and share their stories
The hashtag brought a decidedly vintage feminist tactic — consciousness raising — out of the living room and onto our iphones. In doing so, #MeToo raised awareness of the all too disturbing fact that sexual assault is a widely-shared experience for many.
DSA Los Angeles stands in solidarity with all survivors who have chosen to share their stories despite the very real risk of reprisal. We also recognize the equally valid choice of those who assessed the cultural and political terrain and chose to remain silent. A person’s decision to come forward is always balanced against the reality that for all survivors, access to solutions beyond public shaming remains merely a pipe dream.
A common thread in many of the #MeToo stories shared by victims involved incidents of sexual abuse that occurred at the workplace. From Hollywood actors to farmworkers across California, it is clear that the threat of sexual harassment and abuse looms over every work place. The stakes for workers, particularly those whose labor is undervalued and more readily exploitable, are often life or death. Workers are forced to accept sexual harassment and assault just to keep their job, or report and risk losing access to their only source of income and healthcare. The power wielded by men over the livelihood of their victims played an integral role in the shame and silence victims experienced following their assaults. Under Capitalism, Patriarchal oppression is aided and abetted by workplaces unwilling to disrupt their bottom line to hold powerful men to account.
By shattering the culture of silence, the #MeToo campaign allowed victims to express public solidarity, clearing the space for a revolutionary, collective approach to dismantling patriarchy. As socialists we believe that raising awareness is a necessary first step in dismantling patriarchal oppression, but to sustain the momentum enhance to focus on structural and legislative solutions. But most importantly, we must organize to secure power for working class folks and the work of all people to create a just, liberatory world in the workplace and beyond.