At this moment there is a hashtag campaign on social media called #MeToo. The purpose of it is to bring to light the plague of sexual harassment and assault. Anyone that has experienced sexual harassment or assault is encouraged to say #MeToo, once again bringing to light this epidemic.
I am shocked at how many “Me Too” statements we are seeing online right now. But also, not shocked, which is both sad and enraging.
I would stake my life on the the belief that most women have experienced sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime, to some degree. This should not be the norm. I personally know at least a handful of people (women, mainly, but some men as well) that could raise their hands and say “Me Too”, but don’t, and that’s okay. They are not required to tell us their stories. It’s their own testimony to tell. Or not to tell.
I can remember way back when I was a kid, about 8 or 9, reading in the corner of a Cole’s bookstore and a man was ‘casually’ walking around with his penis hanging out of his pants. It may sound funny at first, but when you really think about it, is it? A middle aged man with grey hair and a pot belly with a knit sweater and khaki pants, walking around in a child’s presence like that? I can think of a similar instance while at a swimming pool with friends a couple of years later.
I also recall as a teenager being leered at by, again, middle aged men, shouting obscene things at me on the street while I walked to the mall to meet friends or down the boardwalk along the beach. Gross things. Then, having them laugh at me when I stuck up for myself and shouted back. It happened all the time.
Please know, that I am not comparing my experiences with people that have been physically or psychologically assaulted. I shared those two incidents because like I said above, many people have been harassed or even assaulted to some degree. Some were just kids. You, reading this, have someone in your world that has experienced it. That’s a promise.
For too long this type of thing has been swept under the rug of shame and power. Shame of the victim, power of the perpetrator. Perhaps #MeToo will help bring people peace as they share their stories, while destroying the mantle the perpetrator has hidden under for so long. Even if it’s just a little rip or tear, it is something. A beginning.
Featured image from Photopin