First Congregational Church’s women’s association holds luncheon, #MeToo discussion

The First Congregational Church of Darien’s Women’s Association and Board of Outreach hosted a spring luncheon followed by a discussion of the #MeToo movement on Tuesday, May 22 in the Church Parish Hall. The discussion was hosted by Gayle Weinstein, president of the Board of Directors of the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis counseling and education. Both members of the church and the general community attended the event.

The event began in the auditorium with attendants holding hands and forming a circle to sing “Doxology” before sitting down for lunch. At 1 p.m., the church introduced Weinstein along with Mary Flynn, the interim executive director at the center.

Weinstein began the discussion by asking the audience to reflect on their past experiences facing sexual harassment and to question what they, as well as others at the time, dealt with those situations. She then talked about the impact of previous sexual assault accusations such as Anita Hill, Roger Ailes, and Bill Cosby and how they paved the way for the #MeToo movement. Weinstein also explained the initial roots of #MeToo by retelling the relatively unknown story of it’s founder, Tirana Burke, who was working at a girls youth camp when a girl told her that her mother’s boyfriend had been abusing her, inspiring Burke to begin work in combating sexual harassment.

Weinstein ended her dialogue by stating that despite major achievements, there is still a lot of work to be done combat sexual harassment. Specifically, that the culture we live in which normalizes the abhorrent behavior must be changed.

“We hope that in the future people look back on this and see it as a movement, not a moment,” said Weinstein.

When the discussion concluded, the floor was open for questions and comments. There was further dialogue brought up by attendants over how factors such as drinking and drugs, abuse of pornography, and increasing provocation in our culture has affected the rate of sexual harassment and abuse.

The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education hosts a 24- hour confidential hotline for both English and Spanish speakers. They provide support groups as well as advocates that will stay with a victim and provide emotional support from the initial forensic exam to the legal proceedings. The center is located at 733 Summer Street, Suite 503 in Stamford and can be reached at 203-348 9346.