Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve seen the hastag #MeToo all over social media. Legend has it Alyssa Milano started the trend on Twitter (though it appears she got the idea from a friend of a friend on Facebook so it would seem someone else who isn’t a celebrity actually started the trend…). The idea was that if all women/(people) respond to her tweet with the hashtag #metoo then everyone would know how wide spread sexual harassment and sexual assault is.
And it took off like motherfucking wildfire.
That was Sunday night. I saw it trending on Sunday and while I rarely join in these sort of movements I decided this one was different. I copied and pasted the Facebook status update:
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
I started writing all of the different ways I have been sexually harassed and assaulted in my lifetime and then deleted all of it and just posted the generic version. Even that was difficult to post.
Not because I am ashamed to admit that I — like every other woman alive — have been harassed or assaulted, I’m not. I was for a long time, but have recently started talking about it with friends and family I felt worthy of sharing the information. It’s a difficult thing to share because it doesn’t come up in everyday conversation. You have to throw it out there when no one is expecting it and that tends to throw people off balance. They do not know how to respond and would prefer to keep it that way. So they don’t. They leave you hanging.
The response from the few family members or friends I shared it with has been less than supportive so my fear of posting the update was due to the fear of the deafening silence that comes with this kind of admission. And I get it. I really do. People do not know what to say so they say nothing. Luckily, I received plenty of support in the form of Likes and Hearts and other Facebook emojis from people I have never met before and I am thankful for their love and concern. It wasn’t the case for everyone posting #MeToo as their status update.
It might be because I am getting older or because I have just seen so much of this shit in the last few years, but these uprisings or movements or whatever the fuck you want to call them – don’t change anything. Or maybe they do, but because the change is so slow it’s difficult to notice the shift. I don’t know.
I do know that what always seems to happen with these movements happened rather quickly in the #MeToo movement. It became a popularity contest and we turned on each other.
Like we ALWAYS do.
Women started listing the ways they had been sexually assaulted or harassed… long lists of the way they had been treated horribly by men and even some women. Not just a passing wink or even being exposed to on the street (OMG this happens so fucking frequently I don’t even register it anymore, it’s like someone picking their nose or spitting) but reports of being raped, threatened with the loss of a job if they didn’t suck a dick or flash their breasts or whatever weird shit the Harvey Weinsteins of the world are into on that day.
Within hours or maybe minutes the lists were scrutinized by both men and women – judging the merit of their claims.
“Oh, he cat-called you? Pfft! That’s annoying, sure, but it’s hardly assault.”
Women who had been raped by family members garnered more sympathy than those who had been raped by strangers, significant others or acquaintances. Get pregnant from the rape and choose to keep the baby? You win.
And the infighting and exclusion and unfriending began.
And then Mayim Bialik wrote a piece about how she wasn’t raped because she had a big nose and dressed modestly. That isn’t what she wrote, but like the childhood game of Telephone, that’s how it evolved. I’m not sure what the point of her OpEd was, much like I am not sure what the point of this one is.
I guess it’s that I am pissed off. Certainly at the people who sexually harass and assault other people (and it’s not just men doing it and they are not doing it to just women), but also I’m pissed because sides get drawn so swiftly and so concretely online.
Men tried to chime in with support and they were shot down so fast my head spun.
“It’s not their time to speak.”
Just as swiftly, men were lambasted and ridiculed for not offering support.
Fuckin’ A they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Gay men started sharing their stories of being harassed and were shut down.
“Nope…this isn’t about you, this is about the women right now.”
That’s why I deleted my #MeToo status update. I don’t want to be part of a movement that starts excluding anyone. And they always end up excluding people
The internet turns on itself so fast. What starts out as a positive turns so quickly into something that is competitive and only for the popular. We’re still acting like we did in high school and until that shit ends, the harassment and assault isn’t likely to.
If you really want to make a difference start treating everyone as though they are worthy of respect. Everyone.
Everyone. Even the people with whom you don’t agree or whose time it isn’t just yet.
Treat each other with kindness and respect. It’s actually pretty easy, but if that isn’t something you are capable of doing then just don’t say anything.
If someone shares with you that they have been hurt, then listen to them and offer them support. You don’t have to fix it, in fact, you can’t fix it. But you can listen, and that can make all the difference in the world.
Oh, and stop sexually harassing and assaulting women/people to get your rocks off.