The end of 2017 was home to a ground zero never seen before. Starting with the 'outing' of media mogul Harvey Weinstein, to the emergence of the #MeToo movement, to the sentencing of sexual predator Larry Nassar: all these events had their own defining characteristics, all traced back to the strength of the multitude of women who stood their ground and spoke out against gender inequality.
Woman after woman took to the Twittersphere to voice their opinions – and their shots were heard around the world, The fall of prominent, once untouchable men were all but yesterday's news; the world, months later, is still engrossed over the feminist movement that has become #MeToo.
But what if #MeToo isn't enough?
This year, I attended the Orange County Women's March, where thousands of passionate, dedicated activists converged upon Santa Ana to walk for their rights. Men, women, and children of all genders, races, and sexualities put aside their difference to address the epidemic of malevolent and benevolent sexism. At the center of everyone's mind (besides Donald Trump, noted anti-feminist) was #MeToo – the match that set the activist fire; a fire that slowly started withering away a forest of hidden secrets and prejudice.
The #MeToo movement of 2017 (continuing into 2018) mostly dealt with sexual assault and misconduct. However, many women also used it as an opportunity to bring to light the multitude of challenges still faced by half of the population. From the gender wage gap (which is real, in fact!) to stereotypes perpetuated in the media, it is impossible to deny that there is still ways to go till gender equality is a reality.
But #MeToo isn't enough. It's a great start, but it's not enough. We #NeedToThrive.
Women of this country need to thrive. They need to be able to be afforded the same respect, be afforded the same expectations, and be afforded the same opportunities as anyone else. It isn't enough to point out the problems in the status quo – we must collaborate effectively to reach solutions. We #NeedToThrive, not just live to tell our stories.
Twitter and similar social medias have been paramount is bringing the epidemic of gender inequality to a national stage. But solutions to the problem should be brewing in the minds of every man, woman, and child in the world. The #MeToo movement shouldn't be constrained to ethically educating every misogynist or James Damore fan in the nation – it should be making the everyday, average person in the country aware; aware of their privilege or lack thereof. Pointing out the simplest things are often the hardest to do, because they seem insignificant. But even these things are very much significant. Bigotry starts small.
#MeToo is an incredible Step 1.
Thriving is the necessary future thereafter.