#MeToo focus shifting away from empowerment

Updated 12/4/2017 1:42 PM

As I scanned Facebook that morning, dozens of #MeToo's greeting me, I first felt an intrusion, then an embrace from a revealed sisterhood. Though trivialized since, the #MeToo Movement gave a collective voice to the memories beneath our skin; it was empowering.

The movement emboldened some women to come forward with accusations of sex crimes against famous men. However, the focus of the story is no longer about women.

Segment after segment on cable news describes, in lurid detail, the alleged sex crimes of these men and their political affiliations (as though sex crimes have a party identity). We hear their statements, apologies, denials, defenders, detractors. We see their alleged victims' tear-streaked faces as their lives are reduced to moments of sexual assault. For the viewing public, these women have no role beyond victimhood. They are color commentary on the main story, which is fallen, entitled, men: the titillating pornography of shame.

The dangerous conflation of pedophilia, sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment result in worrisome false equivalencies, which may obscure the discussion on violence against women and make future discourse on the topic less potent, or worse, result in a backlash.

What many don't realize about sexual violence survivors is we depend on a selective blocking of the constant presence of misogyny and sexual assault. Now, when we turn on a television, we see nothing but 24/7 Sexual Assault TV. The collective bravery of women coming forward should be a cathartic wave. Sadly, because of the coverage, it's become an invasion. But we can't just say, "Hey, I'm going to take a couple hours off to process my feelings about sexual assault, OK?"

As long as we continue to exploit sex crimes by focusing solely on political intrigue, nothing will change in the lives of girls and women. Violence against women isn't infotainment, it's not about sex and it's not primarily about men.

Somehow, what started as a women's empowerment movement devolved into a sensationalized circus about famous men and sexual assault.

For reference, please see the 2016 presidential election.

Carissa Casbon

Lake Villa

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