I’ve been reading many tweets, Facebook posts and articles about ‘me too’. The number of people using those five letters is a reminder of how pervasive sexual violence is in communities around the world, in communities across the Caribbean, and in communities at home – Jamaica.
Survivors are talking.
Silencing – one of the features of rape culture is slowly becoming a thing of the past. I also notice that as more survivors speak and challenge the status quo of silence, the shaming is being reduced – I see many compassionate responses to those who have decided that they won’t be silenced anymore. And the blaming – the third feature of rape culture isn’t a feature in many of the responses I’ve seen to ‘me too’. I’ve realised that some survivors have gone a step further – they are naming perpetrators; they are casting the blame where it belongs, and they are shaming those who ought to be shamed.
I know it will take much more to rid the society of this nasty life-ruining culture of sexual violence, but I am hopeful. It may take several shockwaves at different points in our history to experience the change that we need, but that’s no reason to give up, at least not in the ways I have, because I was wrong about many women who used to inspire me – women I thought would defend, ad infinitum, survivors and their right to a life free from sexual violence and their right to justice.
It’s going to take a revolution, and the revolution may happen in stages and with bold actions; movements may sometimes seem disjointed, but the revolution will happen — I feel it in my bones. I know one day when I don’t feel so defeated and remember all the supportive voices around me, the fire that is needed to be a part of the revolution will once again be set ablaze in me.
For now, I am watching the fire ablaze in many of you, and I am watching with humility and hope. And I hope that for every woman, for every person who said ‘me too’, there is a sea of people available to support because the ‘unsilencing’ is the beginning. For change to become our new reality, healing must take centre stage, and we must not give up on our ailing justice system. We must make it better, generations of young women and young men need our advocacy now. We need to do what we must to ensure that justice is possible for all of us.
For a while there I thought the status quo had won, I thought we had failed, especially those girls who we promised we would fight with and for, but I see hope and a brighter future and I am feeling inspired again. I am feeling inspired today.