After Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tapes emerged in the days before the US Presidential election in the fall of 2016, and the SOB got elected anyway, a full-blown revolution of women banding together was destined to be born. Trump getting elected and not paying a price for his “alleged” misdeeds helped ensure that eventuality.
The #MeToo movement was a slow-burning fire that didn't just start with the sexual abuse allegations leveled against Donald Trump and the release of the tapes in October 2016. Sure, it was Trump that certainly fanned the flames and grew the tiny ember into a veritable wildfire, but it didn't start there.
The seedlings of the #MeToo movement began to take fruit in December of 2015, when news broke of Bill Cosby's predatory, decades-long abuse of his status at the hands of young, powerless women. It started slowly, and it was a subconscious movement if anything. It was so subtle that we didn't even realize it was happening. It was just a subsurface feeling of discomfort and unease.
More and more women began to come forward accusing Cosby throughout early 2016, and the claims became a mild odor wafting in the recesses of the background. Then, the Stanford rapist case came to the forefront and grabbed our attention. Follow that up with the six-month sentencing of frat boy Brock Turner, and a full-blown revolution was destined to be born.
It wasn't until after Trump won the White House that the #MeToo movement really started to take hold, and it would reshape the landscape of politics and the workforce for women nationwide. It wouldn’t happen overnight, but it would happen.
Men in a position of power were being put on notice, and there was no way to know in the early days of the movement how dramatically the impact would be felt, especially throughout the worlds of Hollywood and politics. It seemed no one would escape unscathed, except for Donald Trump, of course. And now, Brett Kavanaugh.
When the first of the allegations about Bill Cosby began to trickle out late in 2015, I admit I was skeptical as to the credibility of the accusations against him. It was too difficult to imagine a world in which a man so admired and loved, a man that most kids who grew up in the 80s wished their dads had been more like, could be the perpetrator of such obviously deviant behavior. As more and more stories came out, however, it became impossible to deny the fact that there was an underlying truth and similarity in the victims' recollections.
It is not lost on me that Bill Cosby allegedly had his TV daughter, Lisa Bonet, fired from The Cosby Show after she appeared in a controversial movie called Angel Heart. She was supposedly fired because she had sullied the squeaky-clean image of Cosby’s show by acting in a nude scene performing a graphically-simulated sex act. Then, she was allegedly fired from spin-off show A Different World after she became pregnant with her first child with Lenny Kravitz. All the while, he was engaging in this horrific behaviour behind the scenes, in real life. The sheer hypocrisy of it is maddening.
While the Cosby legal drama was unfolding, the Brock Turner/Stanford rapist case came to a head, detail by nauseating detail, of the unidentified 23-year-old woman who had attended a frat party and was violated behind a dumpster after she had passed out drunk.
When Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in prison, his father released a statement. In it, Dan Turner said that his son didn't deserve to go to prison for “20 minutes of action.” He complained that his son had lost weight, didn't enjoy eating steak anymore, and would forever be registered as a sex offender, which was already more than he deserved. The poor kid, you really had to feel sorry for him, didn't you?
The whole violated-while-passed-out-drunk scenario is one that I am only all too familiar with, and my own experience in this domain was one that was entirely victim-blaming when it happened in the mid-80s. It was 32 years ago while I was a 17-year-old virgin in high school, and the classmate involved was someone I had considered a friend. He was a nice looking, popular, upper-class boy.
I wasn’t raped in the literal sense on this occasion, but it was traumatic nonetheless. I woke up and saw and felt what was happening to me before he was able to complete the assault, and I was fully aware of who was doing this to me.
I looked him dead in the eye before he scurried away, and he knew that he wasn’t going to get away clean with what he had done. For the last few weeks of school that June, I would stare him down when I saw him. I tried to meet his eye and make him look at me and acknowledge what he had done, but he avoided me like the plague. He never allowed his eyes to meet mine directly ever again.
It has been 32 years, and I have never seen him again. Even so, I admit that for the last couple of years, that every few months or so I Google his name. Just to see, just in case. Because I would come forward if someone else out there needed me too, or if he were in a position of power over women.
Before this past summer, I'd only spoken twice of that night. I told a male friend about it the day after that party, to have him dismiss it as being no big deal; and I told my husband about it sometime after the Brock Turner story came out.
I have been increasingly open to talking about that night and other traumas I endured when the subject is brought up, which is happening more frequently nowadays. I discovered the freedom and healing aspects of the sharing of experiences because of the sheer volume of survivors.
There is no more shame, self-blame, or anger. There is just a matter-of-fact telling of our stories, and a separation from the trauma of the experience for the first time. As more women tell their stories, the more women come forward and tell theirs. It is having a snowball effect of healing and acceptance by women and for women, and it has been empowering to feel free of the shame.
The advancement of the #MeToo movement has been furthered more by Donald Trump than anyone else. His nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, coupled with the misogynist words and actions of the GOP in their confirmation of him, has put a country up in arms and hovering at a precipice.
All of this has decent, supportive, believing men and women angry. Women who have been proud lifelong Republicans are denouncing their party and registering as Democrats. Women in their 70s and 80s who have never voted before are registering for the first time and vowing to vote Democratic. Republican men who support their wives and fear for the future for their daughters are voting blue.
Americans are ready to fight back against Trump and the GOP, and have been given a platform to unite on, to protest on, to fuel their disdain on. If there is any justice at all to be had for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all sexual assault victims, men included, it will all add up to trouble for the Republicans come November 6.
For the first time in many years, I feel and understand what solidarity means. Women have a strength, bond, and connection that will no longer be hidden, and a pride and growing sense of sisterhood that will no longer have us tearing each other down. We will no longer stay silent, and we will teach our daughters not to stay silent. We will teach our sons to respect, honour, and value females, and teach them about consent. Perhaps by the time our children grow into adulthood, true equality will come into being, and not just for women in comparison to men, but for all of us. No matter who or what we are.