The movement openly invites ALL women to speak up without fear, but does this not make it particularly exclusive to cis-gender heterosexual women? What about LGBTQ+?
A year down the line since the hashtag #MeToo soared the internet and every week a new report of sexual assault surfaces. The question asked is the movement working? Is it solely a platform for exposure? Rather than tackling the problem at hand which is sexual harassment.
As a now Hollywood orientated movement the #Metoo movement has encouraged women all over the world in and out of industry to speak up about sexual harassment. But has the hashtag made the movement even more exclusive? Having done my research and spoken to a well-connected member of the LGBTQ+ community Jamie Windust it is clear that not ALL women feel completely welcome to share their stories and experiences and stand with the #METOO women, seeing the huge famous people can belittle a person with no platform.
Predominantly white, famous, glamorous women standing up in solidarity can be intimidating. Although 2018 has been a liberating year for the LGBTQ+ community it still has paces to go to achieve equality and acceptance. But we don’t all have this extensive platform which allows us to be accepted and welcomed into a girl gang of women, it can be daunting to speak up.
“Young people that are LGBTQ are less likely to report when these things happen because they are less likely to believe something will be done about it,” said Alesha Istvan, president and chief operating officer of Break the Cycle, a non-profit that helps young people of all genders and sexualities foster healthy relationships. Considering what a transsexual person may have experience before or after a transition is also interesting, whilst being part of a community and enduring one type of harassment and once transitioning experiencing a different type of harassment is definitely a topic less talked about.
I asked Jamie about the inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community within the #Metoo movement. They told me how the intersection of people’s identities makes people feel like they can’t get involved, in relation with the big Hollywood stars it feels exclusive, for example there’s not a lot of queer women involved, and only a small number of trans women involved. The hashtag has assured the movement’s status into social media as a platform which is making it more and more accessible for every community. Although the taboo of the subject doesn’t help in the LGBTQ+ community as harassment feels like a more delicate subject which people who are LGBTQ+ have been almost used to experiencing.
When talking to Jamie Windust I learnt that the harassment endured by LGBTQ+ people has almost become normalised. Jamie shared with me an event where they were sexually harassed in public, in the street but received a more positive response from their community. Jamie said;
“Sometimes I do think I should deal with it first and not put it on social media…” “my immediate reaction was to go straight online, but sometimes that can look a bit wild. For me social media for LGBTQ community is a completely different community, there is a strong level of connection. That is a reason why I post everything on social media, because not only do I get a good response but there’s people that will reach out and say that it happened to them, letting people know they are not alone. And also, for people who are straight to realise that things like these are happening when they might not have had any idea. And its actually really nice because I don’t realise how much support I really have, and that this is the impact of the things I am saying.”
As a successful free lancer Jamie knows the massive power dynamic between the freelancer and the person they’re working with, “and in that dynamic there can be a lot of thinly disguised misogyny. Within this power dynamic there can be some sort of power extortion as the employer will know that the freelancer will strive to get that big break in their career and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there” to achieve their goals;
“And that level of power is gross.”
Jamie knows they are not the only ones in the LGBTQ+ community affected by sexual harassment amongst other trans members of the community and the #Metoo movement should aim to protect all vulnerable individuals not only elite and high-profile women who have conjured up the courage to speak out. As a non-binary person who presents as femme, Jamie is the epitome of elegance, power and confidence but with such a status unfortunately there is an element of vulnerability. The strong sense of community shared within the LGBTQ+ community means that there is a huge amount of inclusivity and a strong sense of belonging. Social media is a place where LGBTQ+ people feel safer and free, but maybe the #MeToo hashtag has a little way to go yet. To hear more from Jamie, watch the exclusive interview HERE!
Neesha Powell an LGBTQ+ activist and sexual harassment survivor has been working in anti-sexual harassment campaigns for over a decade. Powell writes five ways to make #MeToo more LGBTQ+ more inclusive;
1. Be inclusive of LGBTQ identities and relationships when discussing #MeToo and other movements to end sexual violence. Rape and sexual assault don’t only happen to cis straight women.
2. Follow the wisdom of feminists of color who’ve been doing anti-rape and anti-violence work for years.
3. #MeToo can be triggering, traumatic, and unsafe for queer and trans survivors. Please don’t force us to participate.
4. Make talking about healthy relationships and ending rape culture a regular activity with your family, friends, and co-workers.
5. Help create safer spaces where queer and trans survivors are believed and validated when disclosing our sexual abuse.
If you’re an LGBTQ person struggling with sexual abuse, the NW Network can offer advocacy at 206.568.7777
You can contact Safeline anonymously through our emotional support helplines or through email, live chat, or text. Our team are fully trained and are here to help you. https://www.safeline.org.uk/contact-us/