“If it ever happened to me, I would become a part of the movement, I would not be as afraid.”
I came up with the idea for this interview after writing an in-depth paper on sex education in America, a subject that is notoriously lacking in substance. During my research, I noticed that consent was mentioned several times and with that, the Me Too Movement. The Me Too Movement is an activist organization dedicated to ending sexual assault and harassment.
After reading countless horrifying statistics about the assault/harassment of women, as a 17-year-old woman, I couldn’t help but take a second glance at my peers wondering how many of them have had their own, “Me Too” moment. I thought about the late-night football games, the school dances, the wild parties, each of which has its own, “yeah she wanted it,” moments. But what can you say? It’s the same explanations every time: boys will be boys, boys will be drunk, boys will be horny, boys will be uncontrollable.
These countless excuses spread through schools and society serving as the perfect band-aid to cover up a “good boy’s” mistake. Gen Z is supposed to be the new generation, the generation for change. We are supposed to fix the world’s problems but how can we, when we use the same excuses why not to as generations before. We are the future. But are we this hopeless? I went to my peers to find out how much the Me Too movement affected them.
Some responses have been edited for clarity and length.
When did you first hear of the Me Too Movement? What were your initial thoughts and how seriously did you take the cause?
Anonymous, Male, 18: I was first exposed to it over the media, especially when it came to actresses speaking out against actions in the past. I personally have no connections to it…
Katie, Female, 17: I first heard about it…oh gosh…I heard about it after that guy, Harvey Weinstein. It was trending all over Instagram about people coming forward. I was so in shock about Harvey Weinstein and there were so many stories about people having similar experiences, about being harassed. I kinda felt like our world was really sad.
Zeve, Male, 17 : I heard of it freshman year. I don’t really take it seriously, I still don’t.
Adriana, Female, 17: I think I heard it in middle-school and my initial thoughts were that it’s kinda a good movement. I didn’t understand it as I do now. When Harvey Weinstein and Matt Laurer were taken down and lost their jobs it meant more to me… I mean I think it was good they lost their jobs, it set an example for men. It showed that women are more powerful.
Paige, Female, 16: I think I first heard of the Me Too Movement when I saw this article as I was scrolling through news on my phone. I understood what they were doing this for and I was on their side but I also didn’t really care a lot.
Being a high-school student, do you feel the movement is related to you? If so, in what aspect, if not why?
Anonymous: I feel as though I have no relation to it. There are some people I’m friends with who have told me they have been assaulted in one way or another. I feel very sorry for them and I’m there for them when they need it. I understand this is serious, but I don’t think this is something people understand until they experience it.
Katie: I think that at the time, I really didn’t even think that much about it. I was living in a bubble. I think I started learning more as I got older and deeper into high-school, and I’ve definitely seen it with my friends and my sister telling me about that stuff. So I think that now it relates to me, but when it first came out it didn’t.
Zeve: I feel that in some sort of way it does because I think a lot of kids do get bullied and I want more kids to feel empowered and better about themselves. My school is really bad and just a place where you don’t feel great. I’ve been bullied several times.
Adriana: In the beginning, I feel that it was more older women who took the movement forward because younger girls were scared to come out. But now that more and more people are coming out… I feel that as a high-school student if someone came out, I would support them all the way. If it ever happened to me, I would become a part of the movement. I would not be as afraid.
Paige: I feel it kinda relates to me because at school you have some guys who will just do or say whatever they want about you or too you and they don’t get punished for it necessarily and no one really does anything about it. But I feel like it’s also not the same because what happened to the people in the movement was much more serious.
High-school boys have been known for demonstrating lewd behavior towards women. Do you believe this is the beginning of what is known as “locker-room talk?” Do you think this has any correlation with the movement?
Anonymous: I wouldn’t know. I had no exposure.
Katie: Yes, I think that that locker room talk is kinda an excuse that boys and men use when they make sexual remarks about a woman. I think the whole idea of the movement is to bring the comments they are saying to light and locker room talk is their way of brushing it off and finding an excuse for it.
Zeve: Yes, I think guys portray women as dolls and they just have the need to call girls stuff that isn’t nice or say something they would want. Girls don’t have power…it is locker room talk.
Adriana: I know that locker room talk has been a thing forever with boys but I feel as though it doesn’t correlate to the Me Too Movement directly, even though they do talk badly about women. They tell all their friends about what they’ve done with girls and such but I don’t think it directly correlates to the movement.
Paige: Yes, I do believe this is the beginning of locker room talk and I do believe this has a correlation with the movement because that’s how it starts and because they’re not punished for their words, they feel that it’s ok and it progresses.
How closely did you follow the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse trials? Did you understand the significance of what was happening? What was your stance on it?
Anonymous: I understood the significance. It was not something that I was constantly searching for, as it fell into my hands through the media. It’s definitely wrong and very sad to see such an influential person in the entertainment field that it is very important to be exposed in this way. I admire his work, but I find his actions despicable.
Katie: I followed it really closely. I actually know multiple people who have a connection with him. To me, it was just so real because it seemed like it was happening in front of my family and my eyes. My family and I paid a lot of attention to it. We definitely understood the significance of what was happening. It felt like, all of a sudden, a bunch of women were coming out and explaining their truth and the truth was coming out. And for my stance on it, I personally thought the intention of the movement was true, and many of the stories were true, but some people used it as an excuse to get attention. I think at the beginning, the intentions were good and people wanted to get the word out about how these things were happening in Hollywood in front of our eyes and got covered up. But as it went on, it felt like all of a sudden everyone was coming out and it felt like some people might be lying and taking advantage of the situation to help themselves.
Zeve: I watched the news, I don’t think it was a fair trial. I think what he did was very bad. I think he was guilty.
Adriana: I think that those women are very brave to come out against such a huge name in the movie industry and those women really set the stage for others to come out and inspired other women to do the same. I didn’t really know any of the women’s names but I know that their stories will affect a lot, a lot of women.
Paige: I personally didn’t follow it. At all. I saw headlines now and then but I never really followed them and I didn’t read the articles on it.
How big of a problem do you think sexual assault and abuse are in society? Do you feel this problem relates to you in any way?
Anonymous: Sexual assault and abuse is a huge problem in our society. It is addressed, however, I think oftentimes it is dismissed. I have no relation to it.
Katie: I think it’s a very big deal. Our society is really immoral now and of course, there are many reasons why but I think people don’t really have the same amount of respect they should for each other and I think it relates to me because whenever I’m running around the neighborhood or whenever I’m alone my parents will always worry about me and whether something will happen to me. People don’t really behave the way they should and it affects all our lives.
Zeve: I think it’s a huge thing in our society. And it might not be physical but it can be verbal, especially by men, and it makes other people uncomfortable. It happens more to girls because men think they have the authority to.
Adriana: As a woman, I feel that I am going to be more likely to be sexually abused instead of a man. I do feel that it’s gotten better since decades ago because of the movement but yeah, I already know it’s going to happen and I’ve heard many stories of my peers where it has happened to them.
Paige: I feel that sexual assault and abuse are very big problems but to me..this might sound bad, but I’ve kinda gotten used to it and I don’t really care that much about it when it happens anymore.
How educated do you feel you and your peers are about the Me Too Movement and abuse/assault?
Anonymous: I think the media does a great job of explaining to us what it is. There might be more that I have not learned about. I am interested to learn more from first-hand victims.
Katie: Because my friends and I live in California and especially in SoCal near Hollywood, we were definitely way more exposed to the Me Too Movement and rallies and I think we’re really educated because it went on in front of our eyes. However, I have other friends who live in other states and countries and they didn’t have a lot of interest in what was going on. For us, it was really close to home.
Zeve: Not that educated. I think they should push kids to get on that movement and it’s just not enough. It’s still happening…kids don’t really know about it…I don’t really know about it.
Adriana: I think that my women peers are more aware of the Me Too Movement and what it stands for vs what boys think of it. I think I know enough about it because it affects me more.
Paige: I feel like my peers and I are ok-educated on the subject because we learned about it freshman year. But it’s more of just the talk or the edge of it, not the information we need to know and very few go into researching everything about it.
Do you feel an obligation to help solve the problem of abuse and assault?
Anonymous: I don’t know how to fix this problem. I think it takes a whole society to fix this problem. It’s not just a victim speaking, it’s the action of society. I think the solution begins with a new generation of children being taught to respect.
Katie: Yes, definitely I think that just not only as a woman but hopefully a future mother one day and as a daughter and sister and a person in general, I don’t want anyone I know or care about to go through the experiences some people have shared. As I grow older, I’m going to teach my kids and anyone I care about how I feel about it.
Zeve: I don’t know how to. I think once you have the capital to decide those things, I think that’s when you can actually do something about it. But the people in those power positions don’t really do anything and it’s just not good.
Adriana: I think because I am younger, I don’t have a voice as much as other women do and I don’t really feel it’s my place to solve it. But, I would help in any way if someone needed it.
Paige: I don’t necessarily feel an obligation. I want to help in any way I can but I don’t necessarily know how to.
Do you think education regarding consent and those subject matters should be required in high school?
Anonymous: Yes, it should be taken seriously. I think education needs to take a more current approach to this matter. This potential unit should be hands-on rather than read through a textbook. I think kids lose themselves in education because the approach is outdated.
Katie: I think it should be taught just as a general thing. In elementary school, teachers should teach you to respect other people’s boundaries and people in general…it should be a continuous education. Needing consent should be taught to at least 9th graders in freshman seminar or health class.
Zeve: Yes. It’s very important because there are horny teenagers where, you know, it gets to them. The peer pressure from their friends to not be a virgin and all that, and if a girl doesn’t consent to that… it’s rape and they don’t know that.
Adriana: Yes I think that would actually be a good idea so that more men would learn about consent at a younger age. So that they would know what women go through and so that they don’t do it.
Paige: Yes, I do believe that education on consent should be required in high school.
Do you think the problem of sexual assault and abuse in the world can be solved, if so, who is it up to to solve it?
Anonymous: Yes, I do believe it can be solved. It will take time and it starts with the children.
Katie: I think hypothetically it could be solved, especially targeting other generations. The fact that our generation is more into the Me Too Movement… hopefully we can raise a better generation. It’s up to us now…
Zeve: Yes it could be solved. With the right people in power, the people who actually see the things the girls are going through. It could bring a totally different perspective and change the United States.
Adriana: I think it’s up to abusers to solve it. I feel as though they just have to stop, it’s not the victim’s fault ever, and getting the word out about the Me Too Movement could prevent more sexual assault but I don’t think it will ever completely stop.
Paige: Over time I feel like it can be solved and it’s up to, I feel, parents and educators because they need to teach children at a young age what is appropriate and what is not and what they can and cannot do to another person.
Do you feel there’s hope for the future, not just towards sexual assault and harassment, but towards all the tragedies and devastations in the world?
Anonymous: I would say it all starts with people being open-minded and actually listening, not just with their ears, but with their minds.
Katie: Yes I definitely do! I think with social media and just the way the world is more generally connected makes for more opportunities for growth!
Zeve: I think there is hope in our future but only if we unite as one and make friends instead of enemies. The people in power right now won’t make that possible for us to achieve that. .
Paige: I would always like to think that there is hope for the future in every way.