As an educator, Lewiston native Kimberly Simmons said she’s seen tremendous possibility in the past week.

Her eyes are also wide open to reality.

“The forces that kept everybody so silent, so willing to not stop (Harvey) Weinstein all those years, those forces aren’t really changed by our sadness about it,” said Simmons, part-time faculty who teaches sociology and women’s gender studies at the University of Southern Maine.

#MeToo inspired her to draw up a 10-point action plan with places to start to create change:

1) Believe yourself; believe others. Help is available for victim-survivors, friends, family and anyone in the community. Contact Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault at 1-800-871-7741. Prevention and response groups depend on funding from the state and private donations.

2) Acknowledge the ways that sexual violence intertwines with racism in pernicious ways. Support INCITE and other projects led by women of color.

3) Learn more about campus sexual assault and Title IX. 

4) Interrupt rape culture and address “toxic masculinity.” Recognize that the risk of coming forward can be even more difficult for male-identified victims. Support Maine Boys to Men and attend or host a screening of “The Mask You Live In.”

5) Girls experience sexual harassment well before puberty. Protest the sexualization of childhood and be a savvy consumer. Encourage youth activism.

6) Learn about powerful resistance times and activism. Host a movie night and watch “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” “The Invisible War,” “The Hunting Ground” or “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power.”

7) Know your civil, workplace and educational rights and know that Maine law does not allow discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. Contact the Maine Human Rights Commission with questions or to file a complaint.

8) Include LGBTQ people in conversations about sexual assault and gender-based violence. Interrupt all gendered violence and harassment.

9) Support comprehensive sexuality education and reshape rape culture into a culture of consent.

10) Read Rebecca Solnit’s work on the connection between violence against women and women’s silence in “Men Explain Things to Me” and consider training in Empowerment Self Defense — take a class with Prevention. Action. Change.

USM professor Kimberly Simmons


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