Me Too Benefit raises funds for Family Support Center

Midwest Feminist hosted speakers and singers on Friday night at The Forage

The+Me+Too+Benefit%E2%80%99s+tickets%2C+food+and+beverage+proceeds+all+were+given+to+the+Family+Support+Center.+The+Support+Center+gives+their+services+to+families+and+individuals+in+need+of+refuge+from+abuse+and+sexual+violence.+

Photo by Clara Neupert

The Me Too Benefit’s tickets, food and beverage proceeds all were given to the Family Support Center. The Support Center gives their services to families and individuals in need of refuge from abuse and sexual violence.

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Words of unity poured out of the speakers at the Midwest Feminist’s Me Too Benefit on Friday night at The Forage.  

“It’s time for things to change,” Sarah Harless said.

The crowd applauded at her words.

Harless, who is running for Eau Claire County Circuit Court Judge, was joined by several other women who advocated for the #MeToo movement by sharing stories, poems and music.

The #MeToo movement was founded by Tarana Burke in 2006 with the original intent to aid survivors and bring an end to sexual violence, according to the movement’s website. The hashtag “MeToo” went viral in 2017 when Facebook and Twitter users utilized it as a way to let others know they have been a victim of sexual violence.

All proceeds were donated to the Family Support Center of Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.

The support center is an ally to the #MeToo movement. The organization’s mission is to provide support to those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and interpersonal violence “through education, prevention and intervention.”

Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, a UW-Eau Claire professor, sang a variety of songs, including “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “Rise Up.”

Next, Martha Gingras, a segment host at a radio station in Durand, Wis., shared her story of sexual assault.

“My assault no longer defines me,” Gingras said. “Me too, my friends, me too.”

In addition to the performers, the benefit was complete with cups of wine, delicate hors d’oeuvres and culinary creations made-to-order. A silent auction featured trinkets and prints from local stores like The Brewing Projekt and Red’s Mercantile.

The benefit was the third of its kind hosted by the Midwest Feminist, an online group with a platform that “creates space for women to raise awareness, collaborate and organize.”

Serena Wagner and Elle McGee, members of Midwest Feminist, organized the event with the help of several other women.  

“It’s an opportunity to get people together for a shared cause,” Wagner said.

McGee said the benefit allowed her to transform her beliefs into activism. And, she said, charging $15 per ticket made the event an “accessible way to give back.” In the week leading up to the event, the Support Center gave away free tickets.

Audience members Bethany Bowman and Katie Lamuver said they traveled all the way from La Crosse to attend the benefit after spotting it on Facebook.

“The #MeToo campaign is pretty important to me,” Bowman said, adding that prior to coming to the benefit, she hadn’t taken a public stance on the movement.

“If you’re going to be a part of something,” Bowman said, “do it.” The Family Support Center can be contacted at (715) 723-1138. On campus, the Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault (CASA) offers free help to survivors of sexual assault and family and friends of survivors. Their confidential “Crisis Line” is 836-HELP.