Since the Weinstein scandal, sexual accusations are spreading widely on the internet, on television and in the newspapers. As a result, feminist women and men alike are taking to the streets to denounce sexual misconduct, male hegemonic oppression, and sexual violence. Montreal is no exception to the rule.

In the aftermath of recent stories involving actor James Franco, reporter Joel Achenbach, White House correspondent James Rosen, NYCB ballet master in Chief Peter Martins and conductor Charles Dutoit, to name but a few, the movement to take action and to stand up for women’s rights has grown and intensified.

Sofia Misenheimer, creator and editor-in-chief of Art/iculation, a Montreal-based magazine dedicated to sharing underrepresented stories of cultural significance, has spent considerable time reading up on sexual misconduct and its impact on gender issues, among other factors. “I think #MeToo is a watershed moment revealing how widespread sexual assault is here in Montreal, Canada, and the rest of the world. I understand it’s also intended to foster empathy and empowerment for victims, and I really respect Tarana Burke, the founder of the movement, for creating such an inclusive and accessible way to expose a longstanding culture of abuse.”

Sofia argues that the conversation around sexual violence seems to be occurring on a larger scale than ever before. “But we need to remember to center and elevate the voices of BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, and Women of Colour), as well as those of trans-migrant women, whose lives are most impacted by sexual and systemic violence,” added Sofia.  “#MeToo has great potential, but it requires strong self-reflection on the ways that every one of us participates in upholding a toxic culture that devalues certain bodies over others.  I think it’s safe to say that most everyone knows a victim of sexual assault. Now it’s time to also acknowledge that we also know perpetuators and will not accept their behavior.”

Steps are being taken to take the discussion to the next level. For example, renowned journalist and documentary filmmaker Francine Pelletier is one of the public figures pushing the #EtMaintenant movement, which can be roughly translated to mean #whatnow? The movement’s founders seek to include men in its denouncement of sexual aggression, scandal, and misogyny.

“This is a revolutionary, historical movement,” said Francine Pelletier. “It is the first time that women complain, and something actually happens.”

However, if significant steps are being taken in the right direction, Montrealers, Canadians and indeed the rest of the world will need to have open dialogues that are grounded in respect. Will we get there? Only time will tell.

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