Age 11 in the Cincinnati Downtown Public Library. I was too scared to tell anyone because I was 11, and I believed that I’d done something wrong and dirty.
Age 26 by a superior officer, at a work conference in Colorado. I was too scared to tell anyone because I was afraid to lose my job, my rank, and my reputation.
Age 35 behind the bar at a gallery opening in the art studio where I still do pottery. This time, it was witnessed, and even though those who witnessed it kept him away from me for the rest of the night, he wasn’t asked to leave, and I still see him around town all the time.
I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, and it was a sea of #metoo.
The news lately has been filled with stories of women and actresses coming forward that were allegedly sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, or made to feel very uncomfortable by producer Harvey Weinstein. The #metoo movement on social media has been created to let other victims know they are not alone, and to raise awareness of how pervasive the assault and harassment of women is within our culture.
So many, almost all actually, of my female friends had this simple, two word hashtag as their status this morning.
It breaks my heart.
I’ve also seen a lot of men posting #metoo or #mentoo, and feeling the need to *remind* us that it isn’t just women who are assaulted.
I have one thing to say to that –
Y’all need to SIT DOWN.
This moment, this hashtag, this movement is not about you. It is focused on the systemic abuse and constant sexism and misogyny that women face on a daily basis.
This moment is not about men.
Please don’t co-opt this and steal it from us. Saying “men too” is akin to saying “all lives matter” in response to #blacklivesmatter.
Just don’t do it.
It is not okay. This moment isn’t about you. Yes, we know it happens to men too. We know that men and boys are sexually abused.
We get that.
But women are attacked, oppressed, objectified, minimalized, harassed, and assaulted EVERY DAY, and when we try to speak up about it, we are drowned out by, you guessed it, men.
So guys, it’s time to stop posting #metoo and start thinking about the ways you may be participating, even unknowingly, in the systemic silencing and oppression of women through your own attitudes, behaviors, words, or postings on social media.
Now is the time for you to shut up and listen.
And then to not say ‘me too’ , but ‘I’m sorry’… ‘I’ll listen’….. ‘I’ll try to make it better.’
We have to change the behavior of the men in our society.
We have to keep fighting until NOT assaulting women is the norm.
Until we no longer have a society that treats women as though we are objects to be conquered or taken.
Until cries of #metoo can be joyful affirmations of equality, instead of courageous utterings of survival.
Until we are not targets simply because we are born female.