Oppression is Not Relative — The Fight for Women is a Collective Action

Global Engagements Fellowship

If you’ve watched the news or scrolled through Twitter at least once in the past 5 months, you’ve likely heard about the #MeToo movement. The movement took off following the public revelations of many sexual harassment and assault allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein. As it gained momentum, millions joined in to share personal stories of survival and shed light on sexual misconduct, especially in the workplace. Many public figures have been outed since the movement began.

While many view the movement as a revolution, a step in the right direction towards addressing and preventing sexual violence against women, others have expressed suspicion and distaste. Cases coming forward often expose harassment that occurred decades ago, others include narratives that are questionable to some on whether they should be deemed as wrongdoings. As more claims inundate the media, I’ve seen many people express grievances in the form of “there are more significant matters feminists should be focused on.” I want to make it clear – oppression is not relative.

The World Health Organization estimated that 1/3 of women worldwide have been affected by sexual violence. Predatory behavior in many cases goes unreported and/or unpunished. I understand that there are acts of cruelty taking place in the world against women more severe than an unwanted advance made by a coworker. However, in the fight against sexual violence and harassment, cases should not be viewed in proportion to one another. If a cut on my leg needs stitches but another woman’s leg is broken, that does not dismiss my wound or deem me unworthy of going to the hospital as well. It is a fight for women as a collective group. Certain behaviors should not be tolerated simply because they are better than others.

In America, we are lucky to be protected by laws and have freedoms that women around the world do not. We should address the social injustices elsewhere, as well as our own, and include women of all types, no exception for race, ethnicity, or sexuality. Also, people often make the mistake of assuming all women elsewhere are oppressed, demonizing many cultures we are unfamiliar with. We must be open to knowledge and discussion and understanding how to help women achieve the right to live independently, to be capable of making their own choices. The goal is equality for all.

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