Recap: Madison #MeToo Event

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, sexual assault has continued to make headlines as new accounts of assault, harassment, and abuse of power come to light. In response, our social media feeds filled with the words #MeToo – a source of strength and hope as many learned they were, and still are, not alone. However, the #MeToo movement was actually started over 10 years ago by social activist Tarana Burke, further demonstrating the longstanding and pervasive culture of sexual assault in our society.

Following the troubling accusations by Alice Glass, former frontwoman to Crystal Castles, and their subsequent tour cancellation, Majestic hosted the #MeToo event on November 9th in order to support the #MeToo movement, and hopefully turn a terrible situation into an opportunity for community members to come together and inspire hope and healing. Meant to empower through a shared sense of experience, the #MeToo event, just like the hashtag itself, provided support, evoked emotion and demonstrated camaraderie – a truly first-of-it’s kind event at the venue, and one that we will hopefully see again.

The night incorporated several different platforms for connection, sharing, and support, including on-site private counseling support, a self-defense demonstration, a PSA from Rape Crisis Center’s GameChangers, a couple DJ sets, and even a PG burlesque performance. There was also a “story sheet” for those in the community that wished to sign/tell their story in a more private manner.

The GameChangers brought two representatives from their Youth Advisory Board, who shared about the work they do as a youth-led organization aimed at preventing sexual violence through a shift in social norms. The knowledge they’ve earned, and experience they’ve gained, from coming together to educate and raise awareness among peers (and legislators), came through in their speech – a true testament to power in youth.

Central to the event, however, was the opportunity for community members to share their own stories in what became a raw, human experience unlike anything else I’ve experienced on the Majestic stage. Local women shared their experiences with sexual assault through story, poetry and song. Each story, unique and personal, highlighting the many different ways in which sexual assault can happen, as well as the many different stages of healing that follow. Tears were shed both on stage and in the crowd, as friends sat together in seats and on the floor listening, feeling, and silently taking everything in, between claps and shouting of support and empathy. Every single person on stage shared a part of themselves. The courage, strength, and artistry of every woman on stage was felt throughout the venue.

The night was meant to show solidarity and community with the #MeToo movement and to keep propelling it forward, which it certainly did. More than that, however, this event provided a platform many didn’t think was available for them, as several speakers shared on stage. The #MeToo event was also an opportunity to raise money for an organization that has been a key part of the journey for many survivors of sexual assault, including people on stage and in the crowd that night— the Dane County Rape Crisis Center.

Overall, the stories shared and the support shown was enough to bring, yes, sadness, but more importantly, a sense of empathy, community, pride and hope.

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