My Facebook feed over the past day has read something like “me too… me too… me too”. I would imagine a lot of women have been seeing the same thing.
Alyssa Milano – whose former Charmed co-star, Rose McGowan, has made some of the most powerful accusations against Harvey Weinstein – started the movement yesterday: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
So far, she’s had more than 50,000 replies. The hashtag has been tweeted more than half a million times. More than six million Facebook users have put it in a status update.
Some women are sharing their stories of harassment and assault. Some are just leaving it at “me too”.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
Because I was shamed and considered a “party girl” I felt I deserved it. I shouldnt have been there, I shouldn’t have been “bad” #metoo
— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) October 16, 2017
— Kate Stayman-London (@_ksl) October 16, 2017
Celebrities are joining in: Lady Gaga, Patricia Arquette, Debra Messing and more.
“Because I was shamed and considered a ‘party girl’ I felt I deserved it,” posted Evan Rachel Wood. “I shouldn’t have been there. I shouldn’t have been ‘bad’ #metoo.”
Is there any woman who’s never been sexually harassed or assaulted? The stories are flooding out. My own seem trivial compared to some of the ones I’ve read, but they’re there, never forgotten, part of my life story.
The man following me around the store when I was in my early teens, rubbing himself up against me. The male co-workers who thought it was a huge joke to try to look down my top. The flasher hiding in the shadows on the way home from the train station one night.
As I read everyone’s stories, I’m filled with sadness. Not only because these experiences are so common, but because men are getting away with it. I’m waiting for the stories that end “but then my slimy supervisor got sacked by his boss for sexually harassing me” or “but then three guys stepped up and told the creep to get lost and he did”. I’m not reading that.
Men’s Facebook feeds must have at least the odd “me too” in there as well. So what do we want from men?
To acknowledge that this is real, this is pervasive, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
To listen. To not tell a woman what she should have done, but try to understand why her reaction might have been to freeze, or do nothing.
To look out for harassment. To not laugh along with harassers. To do what’s in your power to stop them. To be the good one, the strong one.
To not harass. To read women’s stories, and ask yourself if your sexual comments or jokes or advances or touches have constituted harassment.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman, Jessie Stephens and Rachel Corbett discuss Harvey Weinstein (post continues after audio…)
And… this is the hardest one… to question yourself, really deeply, about your sexual encounters. US writer Kate Stayman-London, in a Facebook post, has asked the men in her life to think back on their sexual history – to the times when they were overly insistent, or when their partner was “pretty drunk” or “mostly asleep”.
“I need you to think back to the most uncomfortable moments in your sexual history, and I need you to ask yourself if maybe they were worse than uncomfortable for your partner,” she wrote. “I’m asking you to search your soul and think if any of these encounters might have been sexual assault.”
Hearing all these women say “me too” needs to do more than make us feel sad. It needs to bring about some kind of change.
Want a world where sexual harassment and/or assault aren’t an accepted part of women’s lives? Me too.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual or domestic abuse, please contact 1800 RESPECT. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.