One Year Ago: #MeToo and McKayla Maroney

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Editor’s Note: This article was published one year ago today. In honor of the #MeToo movement, the Parkman Post will be publishing this article once again.

USA gymnastics star McKayla Maroney publicly announced her personal experience as a victim of sexual harassment in response to the recent #MeToo movement on Twitter, writing, “I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting.” This movement, originally started by an activist named Tarana Burke, became viral when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the hashtag encouraging men and women to share their personal stories as sexual assault victims. The young actress was motivated by the many famous female Hollywood stars who spoke out on social media revealing their experience of sexual assault by film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In the statement released by Maroney on Twitter, she alleged that Dr. Nassar, a well-known, long-serving doctor for the US Women’s National Gymnastics Team, has been sexually assaulting and abusing her ever since she was 13 years old. Maroney alleges that the harassment started when she was attending one of her first national team training camps and did not end until she retired from the sport. According to the announcement, Nassar constantly claimed that he needed to perform certain medical treatments on Maroney, but instead of receiving the proper treatments, she was sexually harassed and abused. “I thought I was going to die that night,” Maroney exclaimed after sharing the specific story of a time when she received a sleeping pill from Nassar and woke up alone being abused by him in his hotel room.

Maroney was not the only one. In fact, there have been more than 100 USA female gymnastics stars accusing Nassar of sexually abusing them. Many of them, just like Maroney, were assaulted at a very young age and for a long period of time. When questioned why they failed to speak out earlier, they claimed that as part of the national gymnastics team, they were pressured to keep quiet. Similar to the ones made by the Hollywood celebrities earlier this month, as many of them explained that they were too afraid of revealing Weinstein because of his great influences on the movie industry.

While so far about 40 gymnastics stars had filed lawsuits against Nassar, he had also been convicted of other crimes relating to sexual harassment such as child pornography. It is unclear what his punishment will be as he could be given anything between a 22 years prison sentence to a life sentence. This movement, however, did again successfully raise the public’s attention on the sexual assault issue and encouraged more and more people to speak against it. As mentioned by Maroney in her Twitter statement, “Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back”.

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About the author

Casey Xu is a IV Former at St. Mark's School. She is from Laguna Beach, California but lived in Guangzhou, China for a long period of time. When Casey is in California, she enjoys watching the sunset either at her home or on the beach. She also loves playing with dogs.

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