Words by Sydney MacDonald

Images by Sydney MacDonald and Emily Brennan

A crowd of #metoo protesters huddled against the snow falling outside of Trump Tower this past Saturday afternoon. Signs reading, “We will not be silenced” filled the scene, along with “c%$# blankets,” “pussy hats” and every “F%$# Trump” slogan imaginable. The crowd grew by the hour, as speakers took to the stage to share personal stories, promise change and express their feelings of relief and heartbreak in this singular moment.

“I would tell someone who is struggling to share their own experience to get yourself into a supportive environment with other women that you feel safe with and go ahead and speak out. For every person that speaks out, it’s going to ripple effect and give permission for that many other people to speak out.” #metoo rally Dec. 9th, 2017.

In recent months, the #metoo movement has stormed onto the national stage as a result of celebrities, athletes and journalists continuing to speak out about their experience with sexual misconduct. As #metoo protest attendee Donna Cleary said, “Every woman I know has been affected by this. I literally have not met a single women that hasn’t been affected by this. I’m so proud that now it’s out in the open, and that things are going to change, because it has to.”

Social media’s explosion of #metoo stories spearheaded overdue conversations about patriarchy and power in the workplace. It has effectively booted many high profile men such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer from their entertainment industry thrones. Now that the floodgates have been opened there appears to be no shortage of stories from women and men alike of their experiences with sexual abuse in the workplace.

Hundreds of Protesters gather for the #metoo Rally outside of Trump Tower. #metoo rally, Dec 9th 2017.

The #metoo movement appears to be making progress by inspiring protests, causing needed political and industrial upheavals and — most importantly — opening the space for conversation around sexual harassment and assault. “As a multi-time survivor of assault and rape it’s heartening to be with other women who care, and with other women who share the same feeling of making a scene in places where people pay attention,” said #metoo protest attendee Emma Dill.        

Although #metoo continues to send waves of change rippling through culture, a bigger question remains: will we continue to hold individuals in positions of power accountable for their actions, or regress back into complacency?

“I’m just really happy that this is all coming out in the open. I thank Trump for that. I think that this is beautiful that this is a silver lining of his presidency.” #metoo rally, Dec 9th 2017.

“It’s actually kind of crazy. This kind of cumulates to everything that’s happened to me personally this week. I was sexually harassed by a former boss of mine for five years and I felt trapped in terms of reporting it to the HR department. I struggled with it for a very long time. I never said anything, but in the past week the harasser’s been contacting me asking me if I wanted to work with him again, and I’ve been going through a lot of very strong emotions about that because it triggered very strong emotions about that because it triggered old feeling I had had about what I experienced and the timing of this could not be more perfect. I know there are other people out there who have experienced things far worse than what I went through and a lot of my abuse was more verbal than anything else. So I’ve been struggling with those feelings because there’s all these murky areas in terms of talking about sexual harassment and assault and things like that so I’m just here to support other people and let them know that there feeling are valid because that’s been something I’ve been struggling with in the past week a boss of mine told me that my feelings were valid, and that’s what I needed to hear and I’m here to let other women know that everything that they’re feeling is absolutely 100% correct and they shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling that way,” #metoo protest attendee Lindsay Bertek, Dec. 9th, 2017

“I’m here today because the whole world is melting, but it seems like people are finally paying attention to women’s stories. As a multi-time survivor of assault and rape it’s heartening to be with other women who care, and with other women who share the same feeling of making a scene in places where people pay attention,” #metoo protest attendee Emma Dill. Dec. 9th, 2017.