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#MeToo Leaders Receive a Disobedience Award From MIT for Speaking Truth to Power

For Acts of Disobedience that serve society

MIT Media Lab honoured the #MeToo movement and three of its leaders with the Disobedience Award on 30 November. What’s the Disobedience Award? Well, it’s a $250 000 cash prize for extraordinary non-violent acts of disobedience that serve society.

The Winning Women fighting Against Sexual Violence

The three #MeToo leaders stood up against sexual assault and spoke out against the treatment of survivors in various spaces. They included the founder of #MeToo, Tarana Burke as well as BethAnn McLaughlin and Sherry Marts, who will share the award.

Having experienced sexual assault herself, the founder and activist Tarana Burke launched Me Too long before the viral hashtag. According to the New York Times, she coined the phrase Me Too over a decade ago when the movement existed to provide resources for survivors who didn’t have access to help. The Mail and Guardian write that it initially served as a haven, particularly for black girls and women from marginalized backgrounds.

BethAnn McLaughlin brought the movement into the male-dominated fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The #MeTooSTEM movement fought against harassment and assault faced by women trainees. She’s called out major organisations like the National Science Academy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, pushing for them to hold abusers accountable and revoke their membership.

Sherry Marts helped transform academic and non-profit organizations. Her own experience of harassment as a student drove her to spread awareness of sexual abuse in these spaces. She’s worked to make them more inclusive and safe.

The Huge Impact of the Movement 

After going viral in 2017, #MeToo encouraged thousands of survivors from all walks of life to speak out on their experiences of sexual violence and harassment. Countless tweets and facebook posts flooded the internet for months with many celebrities joining the hashtag too, including Gabriel Union and Lady Gaga.

The massive global impact of the hashtag showed how widespread the problem of sexual violence is in all forms, spaces and industries (from rape to catcalling and intimidation). But as Busang Senne writes, it’s important to remember that survivors don’t anyone their stories. Sexual violence is never the survivor’s fault and they’re not obligated to convince anyone or put their trauma on display.

Congratulations to the winners, who deserve everything for this revolutionary movement! May we continue to dismantle rape culture, stand with survivors, believe survivors and hold abusers accountable, no matter how powerful, influential, beloved or famous they may be.

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