If you haven't heard of the #MeToo movement, you've probably spent the past year living under a rock. It was originally started by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 to spread awareness and empathy surrounding sexual assault, and was famously revived last October by actress Alyssa Milano. At this point, the hashtag blew up on social media and with such an overwhelming presence, it helped bring to light just how prevalent and severe sexual harassment and assault is.

The Facts:

Heema Gokani

In 2016-2017, Rape Crisis centres in England and Wales experienced around 4000 calls a week — the highest numbers ever reported. Around half of all women in the UK report having been sexually harassed in the workplace, with one in five reporting having experienced some kind of sexual assault since the age of 16.

The Sad Truth:

Heema Gokani

While I am lucky* enough to not have experienced horrific sexual assault like that described in the stories that sparked #MeToo, like most other women, I have experienced some form of sexual harassment. I spend most of my time in London, where young women are taught not to travel at night alone and where, at times, I have changed my travel plans on account of persistent cat-callers making me feel unsafe in the city that I call home. But it's accepted: it's my fault for being alone, it's my fault for not mentally preparing myself for harassment before leaving my home.

*Author's Note: I should not have to consider myself "lucky" to have not experienced sexual assault, it should simply be the expectation.

So Where Does Entertainment fit Into all of This?

Heema Gokani

Bored? Whack on some Netflix. At a party? Turn up the music. Every millennial, whether full of chart knowledge or not has heard of tunes like Ed Sheeran's Shape of You or Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. If you've ever set foot inside a club you'll know how the crowds scream the words as soon as these songs play. But how can we continuously shout lyrics that say "hey I don't care about your feelings or personality I'm just really obsessed with your body and how you can satisfy me" when objectification, harassment and assault are such prevalent issues in this world?

Perhaps more serious than simply chanting a few dismissive words is the presence of films such as the Fifty Shades of Grey series, where an abusive relationship is romanticised in a way that says to women stuck in a controlling and abusive relationship that if they just put up with it and stick around for long enough, everything will be okay. In a culture that claims to empower women, how can we obsess over entertainment that actively does anything but?

Are our Entertainment Choices Belittling Empowerment?

Heema Gokani

#MeToo is an important movement that empowers so many women around the world. Yet can it really thrive when such hugely contradictory forms of entertainment play such a key role in popular culture? If we're singing about and romanticising sexual harassment and assault on nights out, whatever our intentions are, are we simply just diminishing the impact of the movement we are trying to spread?

If you or someone you know has been affected by any form of sexual abuse, Rape Crisis (UK) and RAINN (USA) are here to help.