Aly Raisman at UMN

Raisman Speaks on Sexual Assault and the #MeToo Movement

Aly Raisman, Olympic athlete and medalist, came to speak at Coffman Memorial Union on Saturday, Mar. 24. This event was hosted by the University of Minnesota Student Unions and Activities and Minnesota Hillel, in partnership with The Aurora Center, the Interfraternity Council, and the Panhellenic Council UMN. While Raisman gave many supporting tributes to feminist movements in her talk, such as Time’s Up and #MeToo, she did not give any new insights into the discussion about sexual assault.

However, she cannot necessarily be faulted for this. Her role is not really to provide new perceptions, but to raise awareness and promotion for a pre-existing conversation. As a sexual abuse survivor, she is doing the amazing, difficult task of speaking out about her abuse and experiences. She is a hugely inspirational figure that is promoting a message of support and openness—hoping for a future that blames the abuser and not the victim.

Throughout her speech she shared deeply embedded themes of the importance of sharing and speaking out against instances of sexual abuse and violence, respect, leadership, and support—the latter two subjects being the most overarching topics throughout the talk. “Using the power of your voice is so important right now,” Raisman said. “Whenever you decide that you are ready to come forward you will have an army of survivors ready to support you.” These all-encompassing messages are true to Raisman because she not only had to be a leader as a two-time Olympic team captain, but she also had to support herself and other survivors in the court case against Larry Nassar.

These validating sentiments seemed to be so genuine that they stirred up intense emotions and gave a very empowering overall message to the impressionable crowd to which she was speaking. Although Aly Raisman’s interview may not have enlightened the audience, it reiterated a conversation that needs to be had not only on college campuses, but everywhere.