"I will not be silent."
It's a simple, but powerful pledge. It means that you commit to speaking up in the #MeToo movement. It means that you'll listen and believe survivors when they come forward, and that you'll speak up about your own trauma — if you are able to. It also means that you will speak up if you see it happening to someone else, or warn someone, or participate in community-based accountability. It means you will be a silence breaker.
W Magazine challenged several of today's top Hollywood stars to use their voice, and take the "I will be not be silent" pledge. Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone appear in the video, along with Nicole Kidman, Gal Gadot, Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniel Kaluuya, Hong Chau, Jessica Chastain, and many others. It's a diverse group of celebrities, all of them using their star power to talk about a painful issue — and hopefully, in the process, making it easier for others who don't have fame to speak out, too.
It's easy to dismiss the stories of famous Hollywood actresses, because they're rich and beautiful and successful — what about the struggles of more marginalized groups? Time even noted that "47% of transgender people report being sexually assaulted at some point in their lives." 47%.
Well, for one thing, it reminds us that sexual violence knows no class, no race, no bounds. The way we deal with those problems is certainly privileged, but fame and beauty, as we've learned, are not insulating forces against assault. As Rose McGowan told TIME, "people forget that there’s a human behind this. Someone who is very hurt and wronged."
Second, while it's not worth wondering if the #MeToo movement would have become as large as it is, had the takedown of Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood not been the catalyst, the fact is, fame did help launch this conversation. And we're all better for it. We're seeing famous men lose their jobs that they've used to victimize women (and men), and people in our every day lives speaking up about their abuse.
In my own personal life, I've seen private Facebook groups spring up for women to comfort one another as they share their stories. I've seen my family begin talking about this issue. Men in my life are reflecting on how they've been complicit.
We're experiencing a cultural shift, and in order to make these changes lasting and profound, we have to commit to not being silent.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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