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The time is now for equality

Samantha Thompson, Memorial Copy Editor

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Feminism: the 2017 Merriam-Webster word of the year and the driving force behind the historically unheard of events that recently took place throughout the United States.

“Feminism” is such a powerful and extremely relevant word as it has been the motivator for women to call out the sexual harassment and assault they may have personally experienced.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word feminism was a “top lookup of the year” in 2017, showing an increase of 70% over the year. Interest in the definition can be correlated to the increasing reports of sexual harassment and assault and the media’s focus on these stories.

The number of reported sexual misconduct cases grew after the detailed allegations against former Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. On Thurs. Oct. 5, 2017, actors Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd came forward and shared their personal interactions with Weinstein and how they were sexually violated and emotionally scarred by his actions.

The scandal was magnified as many more women united and shared similar accounts of harassment instigated by Weinstein. Since then, 84 total women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment.

As the Merriam-Webster definition explains, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” After the scandal regarding Weinstein, more than 30 prominent men in Hollywood have been called out for sexual misconduct. Hollywood isn’t the only place where women are sexually taken advantage of, but these stars are helping change the conversation by using their public platform to promote equality.

This equality is promoted through social movements, including #MeToo, which began in Oct. 2017 to help end the normality of sexual harassment and assault. Initiator Tarana Burke formed the phrase to empower women by helping them share and overcome their traumatic experiences.

Actress Alyssa Milano popularized this phrase as she encouraged the spread of it in order to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The #MeToo has been used over a million times online, and it’s popularity has dramatically increased after it’s use by celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon.

The definition of feminism also reads, “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Women all around the world are advocating for this through “Time’s Up.” According to the Time’s Up website, “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.”

This movement not only addresses the problems voiced by significant figures in Hollywood, but by women in all parts of the world, and in all careers.

According to a Cosmopolitan survey, one in every three women between the ages 18 to 34 has experienced sexual harassment at work. The goal of Time’s Up is to make the awareness of this problem more important and encourage women to voice these problems without fearing the wrath of their abuser. Approximately 71% of sexually abused women have never reported it. The Time’s Up movement aims to change that.

The Time’s Up movement is backed by more than 300 female actors, agents, writers, directors, producers, entertainment executives and athletes. This plan is comprised of four main purposes including:

“— A legal defense fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help lower income women protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.

— Legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.

— A drive to reach gender parity at studios and talent agencies that has already begun making headway.

— And a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black.”

While the original goal of Time’s Up was to raise $13 million, the GoFundMe account created to collect money for the cause has obtained even more money than expected. With $16.7 million raised in just 28 short days, the Time’s Up campaign seems to have a bright future.

During the Golden Globes Oprah Winfrey made an unforgettable Lifetime Achievement Award speech. She conveyed her respect for those who had been hurt and desire and hope for the future. “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the times when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”

With 2018 just beginning, the future for women in the working world and the social status they hold is as promising as ever due to the backing of prominent female role models and the emergence of social reform movements.

 

Contact Samantha Thompson at [email protected] 

 

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