As most of you probably know, the #metoo movement, otherwise known as the Silence Breakers, won TIME Person of the Year last week. This moment marks a victory for women everywhere. After all, there is probably not a single woman alive who hasn’t experience some form of harassment, assault or abuse. This award shows how voices of many women coming together in solidarity can make an impact. It is a public declaration that we refuse to be silenced any longer.
But as many people have begun to ask, what comes next? Politicians and people in Hollywood are starting to be held accountable. And it is certainly about time. But what about everyone else? What about the woman who endures inappropriate comments by her boss at a coffee shop? What about the young girls who feel uncomfortable when their teacher leers at them in school? What about the young woman who gets hit on by her graduate program director (just see #metooPhD)? Or the woman at a pharmaceutical company who is groped and assaulted by the CEO?
What happens to these women? The ones who don’t have all of Hollywood or a political party backing them up. And just as importantly, what happens to all of these men who are not in the public eye and can continue to just slip under the radar? The executives who are protected by their high status in a company, or professors who are essentially untouchable because they have tenure. How do we ensure that they are held accountable just as much as any politician or celebrity? After all, holding someone accountable for assault or harassment takes time, money, and resources. Simply speaking up poses a great risk for many women, one that a lot of women cannot afford. And unfortunately, even when women do come forward, the outcome is usually not in the their favor.
There is still so much work to do. The fact that the runner up for this award was Donald Trump, who we all know has openly bragged about assaulting women and is somehow our president, shows just how far we have to go. We cannot allow these men to just get away with this, whether they are the President or your average boss or professor. The #metoo movement has been an awakening, there is no doubt about that. But it is only just a start. Real change must follow. It will take awhile and it will be easy. But if we can start this movement that engaged women all over the country, then we can most definitely figure out what comes next.