Jaslina Kochhar’s MeToo Essay
The following is an essay written by high-schooler Jaslina Kochhar about the #MeToo movement. The essay won second place in the Fall 2018 Scholarship Essay Contest.
Jaslina Kochhar’s Essay
Imagine you are a fourteen year old girl flying on an airplane alone for the first time. You’re nervous; you’re worried something might go wrong and the plane will crash and you’ll end up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by millions of trees and nothing else. You don’t know what you’re doing, but you keep composed, just as you have been taught to do and carry on.
Your parents drop you off at the airport, smiling and hugging you, kissing your cheek and wishing you good luck. You walk through the crowds and somehow find the right gate. The flight attendants are nice. They help you with your bag and show you to your seat, showering you with sweet talk and offering you plenty of snacks and drinks.
When the plane is completely boarded, you find yourself sitting next to an older man. He’s kind and it makes you relax. You’re happy to have someone to talk to, and thankful for the distraction from your paranoid thoughts.
But then it happens.
You don’t expect it, and you don’t know what to do now that it has happened. His hand rests on your thigh and you don’t want it there. You would push it off or ask him to remove it or even just do something, but you’re too shocked to do anything. You want to think through what you could have possibly done to make this happen but your head is screaming so loudly that you can’t comprehend your own thoughts. There isn’t anything you’d be able to come up with anyway; you haven’t said anything suggestive. You feel violated and uncomfortable, and yet you can’t seem to be able to do anything.
The Hashtag ‘#MeToo’ went viral in 2017, spreading a broader awareness of sexual harassment, and a greater understanding of how relevant it is in our society. The MeToo movement provides opportunities for people to share stories that they were too terrified to let the world know before. It creates a unification between victims of sexual assault, showing them that they are not alone and that it is their right to be upset and stand up for themselves. The movement provides a feeling of social justice and empowerment for victims every day, and continues to work on creating a society of acceptance and a place in which muted voices can find their footing.
In a country where the political power can often be found minimizing the seriousness of sexual assault experiences, making comments like “It’s a very scary time for young men in America,” it is important for people to know that their stories need to be heard. Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in this country.1 Most people don’t realize how widespread and common these traumatic experiences are, or how great of an impact they can have on the individuals in a society. Even events like having someone put their hand on your thigh, that seem so minimal on the grand scale of assault, leave people mentally scarred and feeling violated for the rest of their lives. One in every six women becomes the victim of completed or attempted rape throughout the course of her life.2 One out of every ten rape victims is a man.3
The MeToo movement is an important part of the United States and the world as a broader scope because it is a representation of the people standing up against injustice. It shows that no one has to fight alone and that when it comes to expressing your pain, there is a world of people willing to listen and help you through your journey. If there is anything the MeToo movement can be credited with, it is for providing the platform society needed to show that any violation is a violation, and it is okay to stand up against it.
- Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2012-2016 (2017).
- National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey (1998).
- Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Rape and Sexual Victimization Among College-Aged Females, 1995-2013 (2014).