Safe spaces for women

Gurls Talk platform facilitates discussion

I was 20 years old when I was drunkenly convinced in partaking in an intimate act with an individual. I will spare the details of the nausea that swirls in my stomach as I recall the moment, but the morning that came after I walked home with the irritating itch of regret and sadness all over my skin.

My group of female friends has always been my safe space to share my troubles and triumphs with, knowing that there is no judgement.

But what happens to those who cannot find safe social realms, or even worse, feel they cannot go to those people with the fear of being judged or turned away?

It always comes as a surprise when I find others who admit to never having a space to hold vulnerable conversations with friends or family, whether because it’s seen as taboo or out of fear. As a woman, it always feels natural and comfortable to express and share personal information with others, and vice-versa.

The internet can be seen as multiple things; addicting, time wasting and a dark hole of creative, random and usually useless content.

But the internet can also become a gateway for individuals to share those once taboo secrets and build safe spaces of acceptance, respect and support.

Within the recent weeks there has been a large uproar of people’s voices participating in new discussions on the hushed issue of sexual assault and rape.

A hashtag opened the door by allowing those who have been a victim or know someone who has been a victim to share their experience.

#MeToo, which sparked more than 50,000 response tweets on Twitter, has created an echo effect throughout social media platforms, and it’s just the beginning.

With the help of social media, the internet has become a proverbial hand-raise to all those who have felt ashamed to speak up or whose voices have been shushed by cultural standards.

Social activist and writer for The Atlantic, Sophie Gilbert, shed some light on the current issues by stating, “Unlike many kinds of social activism, [#MeToo] isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. It’s simply an attempt to get people to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society.”

But just like countless other media trends, issues that seem like that start of a revolution quickly disperse into the world of the web and we’re onto the next thing that brings fuel to our fires.

As humans, we are filled with the capability of expressing and experiencing deep, meaningful emotions. When we find the space and people to freely share those thoughts, ideas and feelings with, we can start a wave of progress through issues that normally would have gone unspoken.

Gurls Talk, an online platform and movement that strives to provide an open, free space for girls and women to create conversations of shared experiences, can be just the start.

After years of drug abuse and other vices, the founder of Gurls Talk, Adwoa Aboah, created the movement in hopes that girls and women would never feel completely alone in this world and turn to something that suppresses thoughts even deeper just to cope.

Gurls Talk is not the only way that Aboah advocates for women and safe discussion.

In addition to her project, Aboah is also a model and activist, and with the help of her success and connections, has begun a revolution, bringing attention to the mind and commonalities that all females endure.

“[Gurls Talk] creates a community of girls from all different backgrounds … looking beyond external differences and focusing on the essences of what it means to be a girl in the 21st century,” Aboah said, which is just a brief insight into the movement’s mission statement.

The movement can be found on their main website, gurlstalk.com, or by following them on their Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.

These outlets provide access to more information through articles, photos and videos which have been collaborated with other sources just as, Vice, Dazed magazine and Vogue.

Striving to show girls that they are not alone, the website includes pages for all to submit personal stories and experiences through written work, photography and illustration. By providing an open forum for sharing, “you too, can discover many others are going through the same thing,” Aboah states.

Hey Lauren is also an additional outlet inside the movement’s webpage that allows all girls and women to submit any anonymous questions, big or small, personal or not, and receive honest and objective responses.

It saddens me that it took so many women and men so many decades to finally come to the surface and tell these horrific shared experiences, but it has also intoxicated me with passion to join the crowd and fight.

The world can seem like it is coming to an end when so many natural and societal disasters continue to occur around the globe, but if we stop the conversation, then the problem only festers until another decade joins. Next time might not bring such liberation.

Find those spaces, hold those conversations and let us make sure our friends, family members, classmates, strangers or our future generation of people never feel the need to hide from society.

This article was posted in the section Opinion.
Katie Ward

Katie is a senior studying communications

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