When sexual harassment is an everyday reality #MeToo

When sexual harassment is an everyday reality #MeToo

You would have all heard by now the name Harvey Weinstein. A name that has become synonymous with sexual predator and the continued and overt sexualisation of women in Hollywood.

But sadly what isn’t shocking is that sexual harassment is all too common in society as a whole, particularly towards women and yes also toward men (there’s no denying that men experience sexual abuse too). It’s an everyday toll; thinking twice about running or walking in a new neighbourhood, hoping the person who catcalled you would just drive away, unwanted text messages or comments and the “accidental” but “just being friendly” physical contact.

Actress Alyssa Milano started the hashtag #MeToo to show the magnitude of the issue by encouraging people to share their stories of harassment. In 24 hours, Twitter has been flooded with thousands of heartbreaking responses. The tweets show how sexual harassment can happen anywhere and instead of normalizing it and blaming the victim (e.g. “yeah, but what she wearing”) there needs to be a change in behaviour in all facets of society.

This is from the films being made, how we are educating the next generation about consent and the values of an empowering and safe home environment. Importantly and especially when these facets of life fail to support and protect victims, the church needs to take the lead in promoting equality and respect.

Earlier this year, an ABC report highlighted the often laissez-faire and detrimental approach by churches in supporting victims of domestic abuse that turn to religious leaders for help.

This is a prominent issue that is not lost on the Uniting Church. In 2016 Canberra City Uniting Church conducted meetings to acknowledge domestic abuse and the churches role in transforming attitudes to show respect to both men and women as equals. More recently the Uniting Church Vic/Tas Synod through a resolution pledged to do more to eradicate domestic violence.

These are positive steps that are able to be built on so that congregations, leaders, friends and family can work together to help alleviate harassment and violence in society.

The #MeToo continues the conversation about sexual harassment and abuse to show solidarity with victims as they speak up and paint the harsh realities, just in case people forget that this is wrong and that this should not be the norm.

More to this, it’s a very important conversation that church needs to continue to be a part of.

 

 

Melissa Stewart

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