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speaking up against social injustice



There are many ways that we can fight against injustice in society. Taking voting as an opportunity to show your stance, joining protests, signing petitions, communicating your opinions on social media. I think “liking” someone’s post, or retweeting also counts. In this article, I’d like to share with you about the difficulty of speaking up against social injustice.


In our society, there are a lot of injustices, discrimination, and class disparities. I’ve been interested in these issues since I was a child. I’m in grad school now, but when I was job hunting in my senior year at university, I was looking for a job that was closely linked to solving societal issues.


However, the result that came out of my job hunt was not one I was satisfied with. Because of this, I applied to grad school so that I could get more time to think about what I want to do in the future. Since becoming accepted, my days have been filled with studying and research. When I was an undergrad, I would check the news and other media outlets on social media, and feel anger every time I saw a report on social injustice. My feelings didn’t just stop there, I wanted to change society. But suddenly I became unable to look at articles and posts about societal issues and injustice, especially when I became a grad student. I began to feel that it was too exhausting to resist against social injustice.


What I felt the most anger towards when I did expose myself to those kinds of media, were articles about sexism and gender issues. For example, issues on the news like rape and the discrimination against female applicants to Japanese medical schools. When I was in my first year of grad school when I would just feel distressed hearing about these things, I registered “sexism” and “sexual assault” as mute words on social media so that it wouldn’t show up on my feed. I stopped watching TV, and started to shut off my flow of information.


Why did it become so hard for me to be exposed to these things? To find out, I examined my own life. After thinking about it for a few days, I realized that a big reason why was my interest in social issues, especially sexual assault and harassment. It became hard for me because I would see the pain it causes in people around me, and I myself have also experienced sexual harassment. And of course, this isn’t a unique experience; a lot of people have experienced the same thing as well.


The first instance of sexual harassment that I can remember happened when I was in high school. It was at a small local bookstore, and I got followed around by a man I didn’t know. That man would deliberately stay in spots out of my view to get closer to me. When I entered university and joined a social club and started a part-time job, the sexual harassment against girls was really severe. I experienced it at both my social club and workplace. It ranged from comments about my body to actually touching my body. I still can’t forget about it.


However, when I did experience sexual harassment, I experienced discomfort and fear but never anger. That changed when I became a grad student and started reading books about feminism and learnt about the #MeToo movement. The vague discomfort and fear that I felt changed into a clear feeling of pain when I realized that I felt hurt when I experienced sexual harassment. And at the same time, it became clear why I had lost my passion to fight injustice in the world. It was because I was one of those victims. Unconsciously convincing myself that I was totally fine with what had happened was part of sustaining my willpower to resist. After losing the energy to resist, my heart started to feel heavier more often.

* #MeToo運動 = 「Me Too」とは、「私も」という意味であり、性暴力の被害経験を共有し、サバイバーたちに「あなたは一人ではなく、私たちはともに連帯すべき」という意味を含んだ社会運動の言葉。ハッシュタグをつけた #MeToo(性暴力被害の告発運動)として広がった。


I also thought it might be easier to be ignorant of social injustice. For example, it might be difficult to accept that you have been sexually “used” or abused. Accepting it would be accepting the pain, discomfort and trauma that comes with it. But resisting against social injustice is necessary. I don’t want anybody else to experience sexual abuse or harassment. But that vigor might be lost when you’ve been using your emotional energy elsewhere. When your work is busy, or have family problems, or are low on money, I think it’s really hard to speak up against society. Sometimes the reason why it’s hard to speak up against society is exactly social injustice itself.



I think what’s necessary in order to overcome this battle, is for every single person to resist and take action. I’m sure there are a lot of people already who are already doing so. But there are still a lot of people who don’t care and see it as an issue that doesn’t affect them. I think as many people should come together as they can and work together to take action. Naturally, the next question is: how do we get more people to care and take action? What I’ve been doing is sharing things on social media, especially Instagram. When an influencer shares their opinion on an issue I’m interested in, I post it on my story. When I agree with the influencer’s opinion or feel that it is something more people should be informed about, I add a few words of my own and share it. I hope my friends see it and that it gives them an opportunity to think about it. Taking action requires you to know about the issue first. Knowledge of it might lead to a specific action. For example, voting for a politician who aims to solve social issues you care about can ultimately lead to less people struggling with social injustice.


It’s not easy to speak up against social injustice. I think the people who have enough energy left within themselves should speak up and fight. When someone can’t fight for themselves, others should fight for them. I hope this chain of action continues and spreads. And if you lose the energy to fight and feel alone, there’s no need to be upset with yourself. I’d like to be more active in speaking up about social issues once my heart recovers. I want to be strong enough to be able to keep speaking up so that social injustices can come to an end.

Images by Nana

English Translated by Kiara

Edited by Kiara, Hikari Sawada, Eli and Hikari

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