'Fault' in the wake of #MeToo

5/02/2018 10:35:00 pm

Trigger Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and sexual harassment. 

I wrote, edited, and published my verse novel Fault in a whirlwind three months in late 2012/early 2013. Now, with the #MeToo movement calling out the rampant sexual harassment and sexual assault in Hollywood and across other industries, I can look back on writing Fault and how things have changed since I sat down at my laptop to type out the first few words of my most personal novel to date.

The landscape of how survivors of sexual assault and their abusers are portrayed has changed a lot since high school students in Fault were slipping #MeToo letters into the main character Liz's locker back in 2013. Since then, Harvey Weinstein's empire has crumbled. Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault after decades of accusations. And dozens of other big names in Hollywood have been (rightly) accused of sexually harassing and abusing women for years. Women are knitting pink hats and marching in the streets to protest a president who thinks he has the right to grab a woman by the pussy. Kesha released her most critically acclaimed album Rainbow and its powerful ballad 'Praying' in the aftermath of her emotional lawsuit against Dr. Luke.

Things are changing. In 2017 women decided speaking up wasn't enough anymore and they started screaming.

When I was sexually assaulted in 2008, there was no #MeToo. There were no pussy hats. Women were angry but, apparently, we weren't screaming loud enough. I spent the next four years of university and my first year post-graduation being angry. I knew that I would never see justice for what happened to me. I shared a campus with him for four years and a stage with him at my college graduation. But I wasn't going to let some bastard get me down. I'm not that kind of girl. I wasn't going to go down without a fight.

So, like all of the women today tweeting #MeToo, I started talking. And soon enough, everywhere I looked was another friend coming out as a survivor and all of them felt the same way I felt: pissed off. Pissed off that someone was able to make us feel so small and vulnerable. Pissed off that someone felt they had the right to our bodies. Pissed off that authorities played off our accusations as our fault. That's a whole lot of unchannelled anger that was swelling under the surface.

So after four years of being pissed off, I started writing and three months later I published Fault. It was the book I needed to write to spit the poison out once and for all. I spent so long trying not to let something so life altering define me but it was finally time to admit that it really did and it was finally time to let it go. I was starting at new chapter in my life after graduation, embarking on my writing career, and trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. At the time, Slutwalk DC was gaining traction, #EverydaySexism was trending, and the Hollaback! movement was launching HeartMob. The time felt right personally and I could feel the beginning of the rumbles that would eventually cause the tidal wave of #MeToos several years later. The book was about one girl's bad night, but it was so much bigger than Liz.

And it was. And it still is. 

Two months after I published Fault, Emma Sulkowicz started "Carrying the Weight" of her mattress (literally) to class with her at Columbia University. Since then, we have heard countless stories of women and men bravely coming forward and sharing stories. Celebrities started speaking out against sexual assault and harassment. My personal favorite is Taylor Swift winning $1 in her court case against a radio DJ accused of groping her at a meet and greet. She then, in true Taylor Swift style, sat in a bathtub full of diamonds and a single $1 in the music video for Look What You Made Me Do. #MeToo has become a global phenomenon. 

Keep it up. Scream louder. Tell your story. 

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