It’s all over social media right now — a campaign of women speaking out and saying “Me, too” concerning sexual harassment and sexual assault.
It took news of major movie mogul Harvey Weinstein being dethroned because of depraved behavior toward women, conducted over many years and repeatedly settled out of court, for this issue to be spotlighted in this way.
Hundreds of thousands of tweets and retweets. Hundreds of thousands of Facebook shares.
Most are thoughtful, insightful; many are painful stories shared.
There also are plenty of cruel, dismissive, uncivil comments.
The theme of the latter runs the gamut:
- Dress more modestly and you won’t be harassed or assaulted.
- Keep your mouth shut.
- Keep your head down.
- Why would you share that? Don’t you know that only draws attention to it and puts you at risk/in peril/targets you?
Not all of this comes from men. Plenty of the negative comments come from women, too.
Staying silent and hoping this problem will go away won’t make it so. Instead, it fuels it.
This approach — being demure — starts at an early age. Even for women raised to be strong, encouraged and taught to defend against injustices, to stand for what is right, there is a message to not rock the boat on this topic.
“You could lose your job if you say something.”
“Aren’t you worried he/they will come after you? It’s probably better just to suck it up and not make yourself a target.”
“Good girls don’t call attention to themselves that way. People might think you were asking for it.”
This last message, in particular, twisted in its meaning but nonetheless meant to help growing girls survive the world of men, can lead otherwise strong, capable women to tolerate and stay quiet about sexual harassment — and worse.
After all, ladies never cause a scene. Right?
It’s never OK to speak, yell or coyly whisper unsolicited, unwelcome sexual innuendo, direct crude comments to anyone.
It is never OK to grab, grope or pin someone who clearly does not want your attentions.
A woman is not frigid because she says no.
If a woman says no or don’t, pushes you away — stop. In whatever form she is saying, “Leave me alone” — do so.
Ladies, if you have been harassed or assaulted, say something. Push back. Make it clear you won't take it.
Make it known this behavior is never acceptable.
To the men in our lives, don’t turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn’t happen.
Don’t respond with, “Well, if you’d been more on your guard…”
Don’t stay silent if you witness such behavior.
That lets the harassers, the assaulters and, yes, rapists, off the hook.
Men, you know are engaging in this behavior.
This. Is. Real.
And you can bet it’s happened to at least three women you know.
As I look at my own Facebook feed and see women with whom I work, am related to or are my friends respond “#MeToo,” I think of how many other women I know who haven’t posted, yet have ample reason.
It’s fear. Fear of a fresh wave of harassment. Fear of being left in the cold. Fear of not being believed and supported. Fear of memories tucked away re-emerging and all the darkness that brings.
Translate that to your own life. Sisters, daughters, wives, mothers — all who could post or tweet #MeToo.
Disturbing, isn’t it?
It’s time to do something about it.
And yes. #MeToo.