In October, #MeToo took the world by storm, because, guess what, women and femme folks have all experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault in some form. But while we scan the headlines for the next brave soul to come forward and deal a new blow to powerful predators, some of us are wondering how to change our own communities. How do we tackle sexual harassment at our jobs and schools? How do we root out the predators in our local and state governments? How do we offer help and support to those who need it? And, how do we bring about recognition, consequences, and then maybe some healing?
The good people at the Women’s Rights Empowerment Network (WREN) are one step ahead of us. To start the conversation, they’ve organized a community event here in Columbia, SC, to address sexual harassment and provide the community with resources to support survivors of abuse. Eme Crawford, Director of Communications and Learning at WREN, hopes this panel discussion will create “a space to talk through how we can all contribute to a safer, more respectful culture where harassers aren’t protected and victims aren’t encourage to remain silent.” The panelists represent a diverse range of perspectives: Malissa Burnette will tackle the issue of our legal rights, Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter will discuss public policy, Shannon Nix will give us a campus perspective as a representative of the University of South Carolina, and Kayce Singletary from Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands will offer information on community education and support.
This is just the beginning, and it’s past time, Columbia. Let’s learn more and do more.