Beyond #MeToo: female empowerment’s next wave

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Added: Wed, 03/28/2018 - 10:22pm
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In 2006, Tarana Burke founded the MeToo movement to help survivors of sexual violence heal, particularly young women of color from low wealth communities. Using the idea of “empowerment through empathy,” the MeToo movement was to ensure survivors know they are not alone. It gathered momentum when celebrities shared their experiences of sexual violence at the hands of powerful Hollywood men, turning it into a runaway hashtag. This generated more: #TimesUp (a legal defense fund), #NoMore, and the latest, #AskMoreOfHim, a male-lead movement.
While respectful debate can propel a movement, there are risks because people become entrenched in a position, sides of an issue are pitted against each other, or victims argue about who ‘fits’ in which category. Nevertheless, meaningful dialogue is evolving into a culture of equality, away from male privilege and abuse of power: the next wave of female empowerment.
Our culture is permeated with gender inequality, but our discussions are immature and we barely even have the language to address the issue. It is as if everyone needs to take a giant step backward, pause, and look at ourselves from a distance to truly appreciate the problem. 
The next wave will empower women to speak out at the time of an injustice
or boundary crossing and defy any expectations that she will be ‘nice’ or ‘laugh it off’. This is not about sexual violence, but about the sense of entitlement some men have to intrude on a woman’s personal space without her clear consent.
So a man grabs a woman's butt in a crowd -- I've heard and seen personal accounts of this countless times: a month ago, a year ago, 35 years ago. The woman remains silent because she can't prove it was intentional, she fears she won’t be taken seriously, and is silenced by her own embarrassment and anger. She knows the man won't face consequences. The next wave would see women able to confidently and loudly say “DON’T TOUCH MY BUTT!” to embarrass the toucher and be supported for her actions. He would be publicly accountable for his inappropriate behavior. 
Some men think women like attention, that women dress for them, that it’s OK to comment on women’s appearances, even touch their bodies without clear consent … or that it is funny when women get angry. Enough!  Approach anyone as if a hula hoop was around them, and don’t come closer than that hoop unless invited. Simple.   Everyone else, stand up to the violator.  All humans deserve to have their personal and private boundaries respected.
And to everyone who understands personal boundaries: let’s all speak up for each other.

Darlene Pashak
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist