To the surprise of some, a high-powered man in Hollywood was accused of sexually harassing and abusing women. Perhaps a little more shocking was the sheer number of women coming forward. The accusations of his crimes date back decades and the amount of women he injured is astounding. All of this time he happily continued an extremely successful career wielding so much power that his deeds went not only unpunished but unreported.
On Sunday an actress encouraged people to make their status on social media two simple words — Me too. Her purpose, to show the magnitude of the serious problem of sexual harassment and abuse. If you have experienced either of these, change your status and show the world the proof of this disgusting issue.
First, there is absolutely nothing wrong with shedding light on these actions and its noble to bring people who feel victimized together and show the importance of an issue. Shine a light in the darkness. I’m on board.
I remember the first time a man commented on my physical appearance. It was in 8th grade, my first day at a new school. I was wearing a white polo, blue and white checked shorts, and white Keds, no socks. The guy, while walking behind me, told me I had a nice bottom (only he didn’t use the word bottom). I cried in the bathroom stall and never said anything. How disgusting! Who do you even tell? How embarrassing!
Over the years, I’ve lost count of the comments regarding my physical appearance (I’m average-looking) and the things that guys would do with my body given the chance. Being in public or having a job meant sexual harassment. You stop thinking about it as actual harassment and it becomes part of your regular life.
It happens at the grocery store, on the street, at school, at your office. It has come from peers, mentors, strangers and subordinates. People voice their opinion on your appearance and oftentimes in an extremely crude and detailed manner. What’s the appropriate response when you’re grocery shopping and someone describes how they’d like to bend you over and what they would do from there? Call the police? The FBI? Or perhaps we could just fall back on the old adage of ‘boys will be boys.’
As my Facebook feed fills with the echoing of ‘Me too’s’, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a woman out there who hasn’t experienced sexual harassment or abuse in some form. Are there still women out there who haven’t been on the receiving end of an unwanted advance? Woman who haven’t heard comments about their physical appearance? Women who haven’t been the recipient and an inappropriate touch a time or two or twenty? I hope so, but I doubt it.
And so, women everywhere can either change their status or simply hear the echo of those words in their own head ….. me too… knowing that tomorrow or next week or next month they’ll experience the same harassment. Knowing that most (if not all) women wouldn’t have to think too hard to come up with more then a dozen examples, some more heinous than I can imagine. Some so benign you almost wouldn’t consider the actions harassment.
Type it in your status or think it in your head….. you’ve experienced it …. Me too.