The hashtag at the heart of the #metoo movement first appeared two years ago this month. The #timesup hashtag showed up not long after that. Both are painful reminders of a long dark history of gender violence that lots of people have just not wanted to think about or hear about.
The hashtags are not going away, though. The victims who lay claim to #metoo and #timesup – and their families and supporters – are not going to let the door slam closed on that history. Their job, like this TIME article points out, is to keep a bright light shining on it – and well they should.
Other groups around the world are helping – both to shine the light on the issue of gender violence and to reduce the number of toos we see in the future. In schools, churches, community centers and other venues there are efforts to make individuals of all ages and all genders aware of the problem of gender violence. Educators and organizations are training people not just to be careful and watch for situations that could put them at elevated risk for violence. They’re also teaching people how to see and respond to the warning signs that some kind of abuse might be going on around them. They’re teaching people not to succumb to the “bystander effect” and do nothing but instead to step up and provide help and bring attention to the problems when they can.
Such discussions are not easy. Human beings like to close the door on those activities that make us uncomfortable. That’s where audience response systems have proven to be door-openers, though. Educators are finding they can open discussions about difficult topics – from gender violence to elder abuse and more – when the people with whom they’re talking can respond anonymously to questions. The anonymity of ARS enables people to answer honestly, even if they’re not ready to say #metoo in public or even if they’re not ready to say that they’ve seen someone acting in ways that worry them. It can provide an entry into a conversation that needs to happen.
Education is key to driving down the number of people who will ever feel the need to say #metoo. We all have a part to play in reducing gender violence, and ARS can play an instrumental role in getting the difficult conversation going.