#Metoo: Women come forward about sexual assault


#Metoo has become a rallying cry for many women who have experienced assault.

Angela Mammel, Copy Editor

On Nov. 9,  Alabama citizen Leigh Corfman alleged that Alabama politician Roy Moore had initiated forced intimacy with her when she was 14 and he was 32. Published in the Washington Post, this testimony soon led other women to come forward about their own experiences of sexual misconduct with Moore. After weeks of controversy, Moore lost the election to Sen. Doug Jones on Dec. 12.

Moore’s scandal continues an influx of assault allegations throughout November, as well as adding to a prominent trend of politicians (such Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Al Franken) being accused of assault. Many citizens are divided on how to react to such accusations- while some dismiss them as false and continue to support the accused, others are disgusted and will do whatever it takes to get these men out of office.

“If Roy Moore was elected, I don’t think there would be anything to describe my feeling of just pure disappointment because it just says that America is okay with electing a sexual predator,” senior Gledis Bitraj said prior to the election. “If there’s enough evidence against Moore, don’t we owe it to the victims to keep him out of office? Doesn’t the state of Alabama have enough dignity to correctly chose a moral politician to represent itself?”

Although many men and women alike share in Bitraj’s attitude towards Moore, the candidate has repeatedly denied the credibility of these assault allegations. His divisive and evangelically-based platform gained him a win over Sen. Luther Strange in a special primary election earlier this year.

“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Moore said. “This garbage is the very definition of fake news.”

While religious right-wingers continue to support Moore’s campaign, these allegations sparked bipartisan pressure for Moore to step down from his position. Many, such as AP Lang teacher Ms. Erin Burke, are frustrated that any sort of assault allegation does not immediately and entirely disqualify politicians from serving in their positions.

“It’s disgusting- I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I hear about these allegations, I really do,” Ms. Burke said.

Although the current national circumstance can make some women feel even more uncomfortable in their daily lives, many also see the influx of allegations it caused as a way to begin an important conversation in politics.

“I feel that to have people start paying attention to this issue by any means necessary is amazing,” senior Stephanie Wong said. “These allegations and this issue should… not be used as a political tool, because it’s a horrific situation. If an abuser were to come into power, it would lead to rape culture and an overall thought that it’s okay to rape people when it’s not.”

Bitraj feels that America fosters a culture where sexual harassment is somewhat acceptable, and hopes that governmental reactions to such allegations will take the side of the victims and their families.

“How we handle these sexual assault allegations really shows how our country views rape as an underlying issue that’s accepted by our society, seeing as how now people are just getting enough confidence to come forward and talk about it,” Bitraj said. “So seeing how the government reacts to this situation will hopefully be positive and help these men and women who are being assaulted for the better.”

Contrary to Bitraj’s hopes and the bipartisan call for Moore’s resignation from politics, President Donald Trump tweeted an endorsement of the candidate. After Moore’s Dec. 12 loss,  Trump commented in a series of tweets.

“Congratulations to Doug Jones in a hard-fought victory,” he wrote. “The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”

Mrs. Burke is saddened by how far the nation still has to progress in terms of women’s rights, and knows that bringing an end to such a large issue and changing the mindset of many Americans will take time and effort.

“We need to speak out about it and not keep it in due to this inherent shame on a women and expectations for her to be submissive,” Mrs. Burke said. “I think people in the past have been afraid to speak out because they’ve felt almost responsible, …there’s that viewpoint that you’ve invited this, which totally isn’t the case. We can bring awareness about this, but the society as a whole absolutely needs to change to have this problem completely stop.”

Due to the influx of so many allegations in  November, a social media grassroots movement began, wherein women would post “#metoo” to show empathy and solidarity with those who have been assaulted by celebrities, and come forward themselves about their own life experiences. This movement became so powerful that “The Silence Breakers” were named TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” on Dec. 6.

Wong loves the hashtag due to the healing it causes for victims of any type of harassment, as well as the power it has to show the nation the magnitude of this issue.

“I think (this movement) allows people to come to terms with…if they’ve been harassed sexually. It allows them to face their truth and… not let certain experiences they’ve had stop them from doing what they want to do,” Wong said. “It lets other people to see just how many people have had this happen to them…and allows us to work towards solutions together.”

Ms. Burke also supports the #metoo movement because it helps show just how widespread of an issue misogyny in general is, and can lead to a push for radical change in doing just that.

“I’m all about the whole #metoo movement- there’s empowerment in voicing this and coming forward with this,” Mrs. Burke said. “As far as we’ve come with women’s rights, we still have so far to go, and hopefully everyone coming forward and this becoming a more open subject can help bring about the change we need.”

Bitraj feels the necessity for this change, and believes that the best way to go about creating it is to have the tough conversations.

“The only way to prevent these things from happening is to just keep talking about it,” Bitraj said. “Don’t let people forget it’s a problem, and do whatever you need to do to get your point across. This is wrong, and we’ve let it go on for far too long.”