#MeToo, a popular hashtag that highlights the unfortunate common-nature of sexual assault, came to life at the Majestic Theater on Thursday night.
The Majestic Theater presented #MeToo Madison: Voices in the Crowd, which allowed community members to share their own stories of assault on a life stage and it will also be a benefit for the Rape Crisis Center.
“It’s a public forum for people to finally feel that the world is ready to listen to their stories of sexual abuse and to be able to be in a supportive atmosphere,” said Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Erin Thornley-Parisi.
The venue originally had a band booked for the evening of November 9, but after one of the band’s members came forward about being sexually assault by another member, resulting in their tour being canceled, Majestic’s Hillary Gunn decided to replace the event with something relevant to the topic.
“We wanted to turn it into something positive and form community around an effort to raise awareness about sexual assault,” said Gunn, Marketing Coordinator for the theater.
The Majestic eventually partnered with the Rape Crisis Center to put together the event.
Gunn says they received numerous submissions for stories and randomly selected 11 of them to be performed the night of the event.
In addition to the sharing of community stories that event included a set from DJ Boyfrrriend and Sarah Akawa and a short set by Wendy Schneider.
Local martial arts school, Chimera performed a self-defense demonstration and Gamechangers, a high school group that does public service announcements about sexual assault, showed a video called “Consent is Classic.”
The majority of the night was dedicated to the community stories. Given the nature of the material Rape Crisis Center counselors were on hand with private rooms available to counsel those in need.
Both Gunn and Thornley-Parisi emphasis that the event was open for all.
“I just wanted people to know that everyone is welcome, this not an event that’s just for women and it’s not just for white people,” Thornley-Parisi said, acknowledging the history of the #MeToo movement.
“I know that that has been an issue because the #MeToo campaign was originally started by a Black woman, but gained traction once it was reintroduced by a white woman and it’s important for the Rape Crisis Center that everyone feels comfortable here and we realize that it’s important to recognize that Black women have been running their own movements against sexual assault for a long time,” she said.
“We want everyone to feel welcome to come, whether you want to share your story or not, creating the community it really important here,” said Gunn.