CHS students: stop silence, speak out on sexual assault

By Bryan Fletcher, Art Director

With the seemingly never-ending stream of sexual harassment allegations emerging throughout Hollywood and politics, now is a more crucial time than ever for CHS students to understand the gravity of sexual assault.

Based entirely in privilege and entitlement, the abusive behaviors of people in power have created many victims of traumatic and unforgivable incidents of sexual harassment. Due to the power and influence of these alleged abusers, including Republican senate candidate runner-up Roy Moore, former co-host of the Today show Matt Lauer and singer/songwriter Melanie Martinez, some young people have felt conflicted, overwhelmed and inclined to side with the abuser.

Unfortunately, as we move closer to the end of 2017, it appears as if the list of celebrities accused of sexual assault or harassment has only been increasing by the day. News of sexual harassment has become commonplace in today’s news cycle.

According to an Oct. 2017 CNBC article, more and more celebrities, such as comedian Louis C.K. and actor Kevin Spacey, have been accused of sexual harassment following the “Weinstein ripple effect,” named after infamous film producer and alleged sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. After Weinstein was held accountable for his abuse and consequently fired from his company, many survivors have felt empowered to speak out against their abusers, hence the ripple effect.

Of the numerous problems with sexual assault, one of the most alarming issues is the fact that many people, even students, see abuse as a phenomenon only read about online or in the news, and never suspect the risks of experiencing it themselves. By remaining quiet or even ignorant of the possibility that anyone within CHS’ own community could become a victim at any time, we are submitting to a societal expectation not to speak out about subjects that are often considered taboo, even in largely progressive areas like MCPS.

Despite an atmosphere of helplessness surrounding this issue, there is plenty of work that we can do to stop this threat to our safety. By becoming more active in our local community and in politics, we can make our voices heard and use them to make progress towards ending the high rate of assault against women and men. A great tool we can utilize to express ourselves is social media, particularly Twitter. In fact, many women have been using this media outlet to share their experiences, under the #MeToo hashtag.

While some may argue that high school students are too young or immature to be discussing topics of rape and assault in school or even at home, there has never been a better time to be having these conversations. By doing so, we are more effectively spreading crucial information about how to fight back against potential predators, how to remain safe and avoid abuse, and how to deter the possibility of creating another generation raised by a culture that promotes rape.

As the next generation of young adults entering the professional world, we are more than capable of changing the world how we see fit – whether that be for better or worse. With enough effort put into the cause and a change in what is viewed as appropriate behavior, our generation has the power to put an end to rape culture. The future is in our hands.