Headlines, allegations, falls from grace: It's been a gut-wrenching, eye-opening time. But a seed has been planted, and this moment is a chance to cultivate a better world for women everywhere. It leads us to this month's big question: Where do we go from here?

Jessica Valenti
Author of, most recently, Sex Object: A Memoir

What people need to understand about #MeToo is that it’s a revelatory moment for men, not women—we’ve always known how bad things are.

Margaret Atwood
Author of the landmark feminist dystopia The Handmaid's Tale

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Over the past 200 years, women have been redefining what it is to be a woman, but the redefining of what it is to be a man has not kept up. For the #MeToo moment to last, men and boys have to be included in the conversation, and not just by telling them they are evil and vicious by nature. They are not, any more than women are bitches, witches or feeble fainting violets. But men must work at making the changes in their own self-descriptions in order to improve things for women. Only then can 'boys will be boys' transform into 'real men don’t sexually assault.'

Phoebe Robinson
Star of 2 Dope Queens

Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage

I am beyond thrilled that the 'De-peening'—or as most people have been calling it, 'the Reckoning'—is happening. It should have begun long ago, but we still have a ways to go. We have to believe women when they speak their truth. More specifically, we have to believe women of color, because the Me Too movement was started more than a decade ago by a black woman but didn’t gain the traction it has now until famous women of a certain type latched on to it. So my hope going forward is that not just women of a particular race and class are heard, but all of us are. That those who were at the forefront of this movement are not forgotten or ignored. And that we—and by 'we,' I mean 'everyone'—take care of all of us. This is just the beginning, and I’m proud to witness it.

Gretchen Carlson
Journalist and author of Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

We need to end the misogynistic corporate cover-up culture of enablers, which too often allows victims to be silenced and harassers to stay in their jobs. We must fix laws that force women into the secret chamber of arbitration when they’re harassed, and give them back their constitutional right to a public trial if they choose. We are witnessing a revolution for women, just like getting the vote and entering the workforce. And there’s no going back.

Barbara Brown Taylor
Episcopal priest and author of, most recently, Learning to Walk in the Dark

The work before us is to take care that our exhilaration doesn't turn into hyperventilation. If this movement is to have a lasting effect, we need to do more than call out our abusers. We need to heal ourselves, and the straightest road to healing is forgiveness. That doesn’t mean lying down and saying, 'Go ahead, run over me again.' It’s not about giving a pass to those who wronged you. It’s about letting go of hatred. People who do nothing but damn and pound and pummel can turn to stone, like hot lava that cools into a sharp rock. When we forgive, we free ourselves from bitterness, and we grant the person who wronged us the chance to make things right.

Alice Walker
From "A Branch: Sexual Assault in the Present Time"

Photo: Scott Campbell

Sisters, daughters, cousins, whatever
You are to the rest of Earth’s family
There is no future for our daughters
Or our sons
If we do not insist on
And forge our solidarity
By speaking up.
To have the courage to share our wounds
And begin to rise, and heal, together...
Woman’s enslavement (not only within memory) is the root.
What is happening to you/to us now is a branch.

Mary Karr
Memoirist and poet

If a nice, clueless male can’t marshal empathy for the forms of sexual humiliation women have endured for eons, he should close his eyes and envision the power differential in the crudest physical terms. Beginning at age 12, say, this guy can’t walk down the street without multiple leering wrestler types loudly discussing his ass, mocking him, threatening him with bodily harm if he’s unresponsive. When he’s grown and his boss corners him, humps him, and shoves a tongue down his throat, the man is shocked to hear a colleague say, "Oh, lighten up. It’s a party." He gets used to being pawed at and tolerating jokes about what a great blow job he could probably give. This goes on for decades, happens dozens of times. And on exactly zero occasions does a single one of these bullies face even an informal reprimand, much less any real consequence. But he observes that for those who report abusive behavior, there are big consequences: Jobs are lost, classes dropped, careers sidelined.

"What’s the big deal?" a male friend recently asked me, about a guy forcing a kiss or copping a feel—"What does it cost you?" I said: "Great. Let’s film some hulking creature grabbing your johnson and laughing about it. You’re humiliated and ashamed, but you keep your mouth shut. And then the hulking creature is elected president..."

My friend’s mouth made a tight, dry little O.


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