Panel discusses #MeToo movement

#metoo panel— Kenia Alcocer (left), Angela Toledo, Wendy Blanco, Eileen Ie Ph.D. and Natalia Moteiro, Ph.D., discuss the #MeToo movement at the G-3 auditorium. CN/Joshua Inglada

By Jerry Flores

The East Los Angeles College Women and Gender Studies Committee hosted a panel presentation of the #MeToo movement about sexual assault and harassment.

“The focus of the presentation is to keep spreading the #MeToo movement and to support those persons who have suffered from sexual assault and harassment,” Natalina Monteiro, Ph.D. said.

During the presentation, the speakers expressed their opinions about the role parents play in this issue.

“As parents, we have to talk to our children about sex and what they can do when facing sexual harassment or assault because they are exposed to these situations,”  Director of Trauma Services at East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Wendy Blanco said.

The panelists said that victims are ashamed and afraid at the same time and decide not to make the accusations because they will be judged.

“They are ashamed about it, rather than investigating the alleged perpetrator. They look at the victim’s appearance like what were they wearing or if they were intoxicated, but it really should not fall into it because when somebody’s feeling they have been sexually assaulted, (authority) have to deal with that and not judge them,” Dean of Workforce Development at ELAC Angelica Toledo said.

The speakers offered ideas on how to prevent these situations from happening again, encouraging victims to speak up and report the aggressors to the police.

“Victims of sexual assault and harassment need help because they are physically and mentally affected. There are many institutions offering help to them.

“One of those is the East Los Angeles Women’s Center. We want to ensure that all women, girls and their families live in a place of safety, free from violence and abuse,” Blanco said.

The role of men was also discussed, asking for their help in the issue.

“We need to come all together, men and women to keep with this movement. We have to find a solution for this problem and we have to start it in our home by talking to our children about this issue,” Associate Professor of Sociology Eileen Ie, Ph.D., said.

The movement became viral on social media in October when Tarana Burke used the hashtag and Alyssa Milano popularized it. This encouraged women to speak out about the problem.

An article published by The Atlantic on Oct. 16 said that less than 24 hours after  Milano used the #MeToo in her Twitter account,  the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times. It became viral not only on Twitter, but also on Facebook.

“The panel was part of the National Women’s History Month and it will also help kick off the Sexual Assault Awareness month in April,” Toledo said.

East Los Angeles Women’s Center along with the Women/Gender Studies Committee will have workshops on campus as part of the Sexual Awareness Month starting April 13, to continue educating communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

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