She said

When I published my story about the #MeToo movement and the changes it has produced for our generation, I was nervous. It wasn’t because the topic of sexual misconduct makes people uncomfortable, but because the movement has become so highly controversial in our society that I was worried about the reaction my story would receive.

If just publishing a story about sexual assault was nerve-wracking for me, I couldn’t imagine how victims of sexual assault must feel when they talk about their experiences.

But while the #MeToo movement has created controversy, it also has brought forth conversation. And conversation is exactly what my generation needs if we want to educate each other about the relevance of sexual misconduct today.

When the topic of #MeToo is mentioned in class, it always receives mixed responses. Half of the class makes jokes or ignores the conversation while the rest attempt to either educate themselves on the movement or discuss the changes it has provoked.

However, I know that not all people have negative attitudes toward the movement. A lot of males I know have a good understanding of what is crossing the line in terms of actions or jokes. For them, #MeToo is a movement that has raised their awareness in how they act toward women.

For the majority of women, #MeToo has emerged as a platform to rely on in the case that they experience sexual misconduct. It has even aided in ending their ignorance about cases of sexual harassment and assault that males experience and the public fails to recognize.

But society still has a long way to go if we want to end the stigma around sexual assault and make our world a safer place for victims to come forward.

Even in the thick of the #MeToo movement, I can’t say that if I were to be sexually harassed or assaulted, I would be confident enough to tell someone.

In that situation, I would want to report the incident, but I would never want other students to find out because of the fear that I would be judged and criticized.

Admitting to being sexually assaulted is a vicious cycle, and it’s part of the ongoing reason why society continues struggling to believe survivors and why victims don’t disclose their experiences.

Just scrolling through Twitter when a breaking story comes out about sexual assault will show anyone that victims are still shamed and degraded for speaking out. Women are labeled as dishonest and accused of ruining their attackers’ reputations as a result of coming forward.

I understand that the default action is to jump to the defense of an accused celebrity or politician. But that’s not fair to the victims who are telling the truth in hopes of stopping the cycle.

It is alarming for other survivors to see that they might receive similar reactions if they come forward, discouraging and forcing them to wait long stretches of time before telling anyone.

By the time victims feel secure enough to speak out, years have passed, and they are once again labeled as liars for not reporting the incident sooner.

Women have already struggled for decades to feel as though coming forward was socially acceptable. We have to break the cycle somehow.

I should not be uncomfortable publishing a story or talking to others about sexual misconduct.

I should not be afraid to walk to my car alone at night.

I should not have to change what I wear out of fear that I will be blamed for another person’s actions.

I should not have to read about rapists who got off on three-month sentences and are sympathized with by the public because of their “mistake” as a teenager.

Women should not be afraid to speak out because they fear retaliation. Men should not be afraid to speak out because society says they aren’t supposed to convey emotion or show pain.

Those who carry out sexual crimes should receive consequences and the victims deserve justice.

We should be encouraging all people to speak up and talk about their experiences. If we want to end the stereotypes about sexual misconduct that linger in the back of our minds whenever a new survivor joins the #MeToo movement, we must make discussion feel normal.

Sexual misconduct wasn’t considered a major issue until movements of the 1970’s drew attention to the cause and contributed to the passage of rape shield laws. This time period was crucial in developing the idea that rape can be used as a way to exert power over victims.

Historically, this conversation has been the only thing that has helped advance our society into one that believes in victims, and it has proven its significance in creating progress.

At times, the #MeToo movement can be perceived as a movement with the purpose of stemming a hatred toward men or encouraging women to act immaturely toward them. Not only is this an inaccurate representation of the movement’s intentions, but it makes the topic of sexual misconduct a hard issue to tackle.

The real motive of the #MeToo movement is to provide a platform for victims of sexual harassment and assault to unite together and fight for recognition that sexual misconduct is an everyday reality for men and women.

Sexual misconduct is uncomfortable to talk about, but it is necessary in order to end the stigma around it.