Before digging up about campaign, if we recall, Time magazine honoured a bunch of whistleblowers “The Silence Breakers” as their person of the year and featured on magazine cover. Prior to that, there was widely noticed #MeToo movement. All of these are about fighting against sexual harassment and assaults (in workplace or in general) towards women.
Time’s Up is a legal defence fund, formed by various smaller women rights group or campaigns like Lean In, BetterBrave all came up together for a larger, more effective movement in response to the Weinstein Effect. Then again, I need to clarify a little bit about “Weinstein Effect.” It all started with more than 80 women in film industry shared how they were sexually harassed by the filmmaker Harvey Weinstein and it made countless headlines in October 2017. Started out with this, more women shared their experiences on being sexually abused, harassed or assaulted, and called out many celebrities or powerful people, mostly men.
In November 2017, a letter from female farm workers pumped Hollywood women to put all these events together as a larger movement. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, an organisation that supports female farm workers in the US, sent a letter of solidarity to Hollywood women to involve in exposing sexual abuses. The letter stated that it represented around 700,000 female farm workers in America.
So more than 300 women from film, television, theatre and music industry signed in solidarity to fight against sexual abuse and harassments; from Meryl Streep to Taylor Swift, you name it, almost every famous woman stands of for this movement. Time’s Up, which is administered by National Women’s Law Centernow, is now a bigger movement that aims to help raise awareness and speak up about the issue. It was globally announced in The New York Times about the movement on 1st January 2018 and many male celebrities have been publicly supporting this campaign as well.
To me, this movement is a wakeup call for Myanmar celebrities. This is a very classy and impactful movement that Hollywood women made but what do our celebrities do now? Mostly creating clothing and shoes lines and selling things. While women from Hollywood try to use their image to protect fellow women, most celebrities here are making money out of fellow women. I’m not saying that all celebrities do it. With the rise of social media, some celebrities take part in smaller social campaigns and share some photos on their social networks but not as a movement. There are also some celebrities who are doing philanthropic works but not as united and influential like #MeToo or Time’s Up. A couple of months ago, there was a small movement called 16 Days Campaign, which also had similar mission like standing up against sexual abuses and stuffs, but it wasn’t widely noticed. Solidarity has never been our trait, not Burmese’s thing.
Highlighting the importance of this issue, I was recently assaulted by random dude in broad daylight in crowded street. I dared not confront the dude but walked past him as if I didn’t hear him because most Asian people avoided confrontation and it was how I was taught by parents. Victim blaming is deeply embedded in our society and that is why people who commit harassments easily get away with their dirty works. Dudes take advantage when us girls are unable to speak up and confront.
This is when we need powerful, famous people to use their image and change people’s perception. Eventually, it is a basic concept of public campaigns and there are various issues to be raised in Myanmar with the help of influential people. Let’s say I start a campaign. Only people from my network will notice and, say, only one-third of these people will likely to share my campaign with their networks. But when a famous people does, it evidently has more impact.
Ordinary people are easily inspired by those who are smart, famous and successful. Even lame social media clowns are liked by many people. It is that simple. I am so inspired by this movement where women speak up for every women and at the same time, I really wish Myanmar celebrities unite together and do something for ordinary people who love them, support them and root for them instead of making money out of these people.