“The people that are part of my life presuppose dignity and respect as foundational in every one of their relationships.I'd never really seen somebody groped or harassed,” he says.“I have numerous friends who have been harassed, sexually assaulted and raped.” Despite increased awareness of sexual assault in the wake of #Me Too, Bussel says she’s become less trusting of men: “I have had some pretty scary experiences with men in college … Chan, a sex educator in Toronto, shares Bussel’s hope, saying: “To move forward we need conversations in which men say, ‘I wonder what I’ve done in my life that may have put someone in danger.’ I want to recruit men to be part of the change.”Bussel believes said change will require men in positions of power (such as “actors, rappers and athletes that younger men look up to”) to start speaking up for high school and college-age men to start truly getting it.
A political science major, Ayla Bussel is well-versed in the evolving conversation around #Me Too. Bussel identifies as a “strong feminist” who regularly dissects her dating life, as well as issues like campus assault and sexual harassment, with her three roommates.’”Still, she acknowledges that in casual dating situations, it can be tough to figure out “what you're both comfortable with, and [navigate] the power dynamics that exist in heterosexual relationships.” For example, she recalls one “borderline assault” with a “liberal bro type” who relentlessly pressured her into having sex with him: “It was one of those grey areas; I told him I didn't want to do anything, but I was staying over at his place and he kept pushing me until I just said yes."One of the challenges, as the Me Too movement’s founder, Tarana Burke, noted in a January interview, is that many American women have been conditioned to be people-pleasers.“Socially we’re trained out of knowing our own sexual desires,” said Chan, the sex educator, who says she regularly works with groups of young people who aren’t setting clear boundaries because they “don’t want to hurt someone's feelings.”Part of the problem, Breault said, is what she grew up learning from peers in her rural Connecticut town.“My peers — not my parents — taught me all kinds of bull----, like that if you don't want to have sex with [a guy,] you still have to get him off.” Until early adulthood, “I thought I had to do that to protect myself,” she says. ”Alea Adigweme, of Iowa City, identifies as a “cis queer woman engaged to a man” and says she’s still trying to parse the ways that the revelations around Me Too have affected her relationship with her fiancé.“As somebody who's in graduate school in a media studies program, who thinks a lot about gender, race and sexuality, it's always been a part of [our] conversations,” she acknowledges.Most of the men she discusses these issues with are “unreceptive,” she says.On campus, Bussel sees this as “an extreme lack of respect for women and their choices.”Like many women, Bussel says she and her friends have experienced various forms of sexual violence.“It's a problem that goes way deeper than dating, or gender, or power dynamics,” he says.