#girlstoo movement comes to Santa Barbara

Views 32 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 14 - 2018 | By: Erin Bunnell

The GirlsInc chapters of Greater Santa Barbara and Carpinteria have launched a new campaign, #GirlsToo--exactly one year after the #MeToo hashtag took social media by storm. The campaign is focused on female youth across the nation, aiming to raise awareness of the fact that sexual harassment and assault are not isolated issues by addressing the societal gender norms and stereotypes that have allowed rape culture to persist.

When #MeToo went viral, innumerable people came forward with their experiences of sexual harassment (among other acts of such nature), but most that did were adult women. GirlsInc, an organization that partners with local schools to promote the development of “the whole girl,” carried this movement a step further by providing support for younger females as they face sexual violation in their own lives. In fact, according to GirlsInc, 7 out of 10 girls are sexually harassed by the time they graduate high school, and 1 out of 4 girls is a victim of sexual violence by the time they turn 18. Additionally, many girls report that they hear sexual comments from their male peers several times a week. According to spokesperson for GirlsInc, Kristen Weaver, these derogatory interactions can have a lasting negative impact on the lives of targeted females, even “changing the direction of their lives later on.”

The hope of the #GirlsToo campaign is to reduce these numbers through the cultivation of respect for women today and in the years to come. Rather than merely calling attention to the perpetrators of sexual crimes, #GirlsToo calls attention to the root of the harmful behaviors, and seeks to put an end to them.

Already the campaign has made great progress in gathering support on a larger scale. Affiliate organizations in Canada and the United States have committed to spreading awareness and taking action against bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. GirlsInc has made resources available for youth, parents, teachers, and other adults who wish to make changes in their communities. According to Weaver, “Girls can’t do this alone. They need the commitment of the whole community to enact change.” GirlsInc has also encouraged the nation to take the #GirlsToo pledge and truly commit to building a better society. Recently at a conference in Washington D.C., 300 GirlsInc representatives urged elected officials to do just that, as well as share the hashtag and campaign within their own networks. Santa Barbara County House Representative Salud Carbajal was at this meeting in Washington and showed his support for the movement.

In the wake of #MeToo, the systemic issues of societal gender norms and stereotypes have been brought into the spotlight. With almost every news outlet often reporting on cases of sexual violence, the question seems to be, “what now?” The #GirlsToo campaign may just be the answer many are looking for.


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