How #MeToo United The Women’s Convention

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Nearly everyone at the Women’s Convention had a story.

One woman told a packed conference room that she had been abducted and raped as a child, and her parents hadn’t noticed. Another told a group of potential Emily’s List candidates about how she had escaped her abusive husband. A third described being told she was “too pretty” for her corporate job.

The attendees had gathered to discuss immigration, health care, voting rights and racial justice. But the recent wave of allegations of sexual violence against women became the issue that united them all.

“Th e conversation around sexual assault and violence against women of course puts some new energy into the movement,” says Linda Sarsour, one of the national co-chairs of the Women’s March. “It also allows people to find courage, and when you find courage on an issue like sexual assault, you will find courage to talk about immigration, you will find courage to talk about poverty.”

The Convention offered an element of healing. It featured panels on “self-care” and “safe spaces,” and a free yoga class for anybody who needed a break. Attendees cried easily and often, but without embarrassment: there were few men around to make it awkward.

But the Women’s Convention wasn’t a therapy session. Throughout the three-day weekend in Detroit, the #MeToo campaign and the unfolding series of sexual allegations against high-profile men worked like gasoline on an already roaring fire. Rage over the allegations fueled the political indignation that had brought all these women to Detroit in the first place.

Actress Rose McGowan opened the Convention on Friday morning with a rousing speech about sexual abuse, her first since she first came forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein. “In the face of unspeakable actions from one monster, we look away to another, the head monster of all right now,” she said.

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