#MeToo – the hashtag all women can relate to, and most men are disturbingly silent about
This weekend, two words became a battle cry against sexual harassment; Me Too. The hashtag went wildly viral last night, as women took to social media platforms to declare that they, too, had experienced sexual harassment or abuse.
The powerful words were used by actress Alyssa Milano to inspire women to reveal just how many of us have dealt with harassment and abuse. She shared the #MeToo message on Twitter where it quickly went viral — but the movement was initially started 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke, who started a “grassroots movement to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities ‘where rape crisis centers and sexual assault workers weren’t going.'”
Thousands of people, mostly women, began replying.
On Facebook, the same status began to circulate:
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. Please copy and paste. #MeToo
One after the other I saw my female friends’ statuses change to, Me too. I had to blink back tears from the feeling of seeing the sheer magnitude of the women I love add their voice to the chorus. But I wasn’t surprised. No woman is surprised by this. We’ve been dealing with harassment and abuse our whole lives. I can’t name a single woman in my life who hasn’t been harassed. Not a SINGLE ONE.
At the same moment I realized how many of my female friends were rising up to add their voices to this movement, it became disturbingly clear how many men were staying silent.
Your silence is deafening.
This is not to say men haven’t shared stories of harassment as well — they have. But we can’t ignore the fact that harassment and sexual violence is something that disproportionately affects women. And since this is all coming to light because of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it’s important to note that women are far more likely to suffer workplace harassment than men. According to the National Council for Research on Women, women are nine times more likely than men to quit their jobs, five times more likely to transfer, and three times more likely to lose jobs because of harassment.
And when it comes to sexual violence — one in six women will experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. And 90% of adult rape victims are female.
When the horrific stories of Weinstein’s assaults began to make news last week, there was a chorus of “Why didn’t the women speak up sooner?” But they did speak up. They told loved ones and friends and people they trusted. And they are speaking up now — and naming names and the weight of all of this shouldn’t even be on their shoulders.
I was sitting on the train last week in front of two businessmen traveling out of New York City to my Hudson Valley home. One of the men was watching a show on Netflix, and commented, horrified, “My god. They just killed a little girl on this show.” His friend laughed, and replied, “The bitch probably had it coming. She probably didn’t put out.” His friend chuckled uncomfortably.
He was talking about a child.
I felt my ears get hot, and my blood pressure rise. I was disgusted by a man who would even think to utter a statement like that, but almost more disgusted by his co-worker who, obviously uncomfortable, said nothing. This is the type of enabling that breeds a toxic male workplace. And if you’re not a fucking Neanderthal, it’s time to start calling this behavior out.
We need you, men. We need your voices. Women would be far more inclined to come forward if their environment wasn’t bathed in toxic masculinity. Men would be far less likely to methodically commit workplace harassment if the men surrounding them didn’t stand for it.
See, it’s not that hard. Add your voices, men.