#MeToo Takes Hollywood Blvd
It started with the hash tag #MeToo that went viral. Hundreds of women, men and children marched together on Hollywood and Highland Boulevard in Hollywood, Calif. on Sunday, Nov. 12, to help bring awareness to sexual harassment and assault. At the forefront of the march, which started from the Dolby Theater and ended at the CNN building, was Tarana Burke, a women's activist who created the original Me Too movement. She was joined by other advocates and survivors from numerous organizations within the Los Angeles area.
The Me Too movement initially blew up in popularity through the hashtag #MeToo in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood film executive Harvey Weinstein. According to the New York Times, Burke's journey began in 1997, after hearing a conversation with a 13 year old girl who shared her story of sexual assault. In 2007, she created Just Be Inc., a non-profit organization that helps victims of sexual harassment and assault. Burke was committed to being there for people who had been abused.
Burke’s movement began long before the hashtag, but as the news began to spread about the Weinstein allegations, actress Alyssa Milano, took those words and tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'Me too' as a reply to this tweet." “Me Too” was a way survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault cam share openly that they too have been affected by the crime others have committed.
From two words in social media, to a Facebook invite to join together and walk in unity, demonstrator and lead organizer Brenda Guiterrez made sure to let their voices be heard in public.
The march began at 11 a.m., and the hundreds that participated held signs and chanted phrases including, “If we don’t get our justice, then they don’t get their peace," “'Yes' means 'yes' and 'no' means 'no'” and “Survivors united will never be divided," as they walked through the streets of Hollywood.
Among the crowd of protesters were women, men and children of all ages showing unity in their cause. Jarred Fiorda was one of the few men that walked in support of the movement. He held a sign that had the words, “Real men fight for women. Do you? #Metoo." Fiorda shared that he joined the march because “It’s time to make this end. It’s appalling, no one should have to go through this, and I want this to stop personally.”
Three high school girls arrived to the protest side by side, with their bright pink signs drifting through the sky and all there for one reason -- to make their voices heard.
One of the three girls, 15-year-old Dexter Mayo from Los Angeles, stated, “It was important for us to come out here and show people that we are united and what's happening is not okay.” Mayo held the sign with the messages on both sides, one side stating, "No matter what we wear, no matter where we go, yes means yes and no means no."
Anthi Sklavenitis the second high school student, held a sign that caused many people to stop and ask to take pictures. It read, “Rape came before miniskirts.” Sklaventitis said, “It’s my duty as a young person in the future of my country to make it known what I think is right and wrong.”
Finally, the sign “Boys will be boys held accountable for their actions” was held by the third of the three friends, Aislinn Russell, 15, from Los Angeles. Russell stated she felt it was important to come out “because we are all survivors of harassment and some of us assault... I want to come here and support other women who have been through the same thing and I want my voice to be heard. I want to make a difference.”
All three young women have grabbed the attention of the local media and made their voices heard.
The march lasted about one hour, after which the group walked back to the starting point where speakers shared support and stories. The event ended close to 2 p.m. and was covered by the local news channels and radio stations.
"Women have been hurt for so many years, and we're forty years too late doing this and we could have saved a lot of girls and boys," said Jennifer Ravenelle, 47, and another protestor at the Me Too March. "There's so much you can do to make yourself strong and knowing that other people, now in this generation are doing something....I feel good about [that]."