Forty-five women in showbiz coming forward to speak out against Harvey Weinstein triggered all women and spurred a social media campaign, that has gone viral with women sharing stories of their harassment, sexual assaults, rapes, attempted rapes, and abuse with the hashtag: #MeToo, with many are discussing what can be done to turn the tide.
Interestingly, this woman’s empowerment movement coincided with the movie “Battle of the Sexes” about the 1973 tennismatch between 29-year-old Billie Jean King and 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. The interplay of these two events reflect how far we’ve come and how far we still need go toward true gender equality.
One Facebook, a post suggested:
“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. “It doesn't have to be rape, it can be attempted rape, groping, cat calls like, "nice legs, great tits". It's being touched anywhere, having the boy behind you in high school snap your bra strap or comment on your breasts. “It's filthy jokes at work, the boss makes you uncomfortable by being to close, the guy in the bar who makes you so uncomfortable you have to get a friend to help. It's not being able to walk down the street without whistling and being afraid to walk alone after dark. “It's even being told to, ‘Smile, you'll look prettier.’ “It happens more than people realize.”
A friend posted:
“After reading all the ‘me toos’ on my own FB, I am so angry and upset. How many of us have suffered and kept this secret inside...some longer than others. After seeing my own daughter post "me too", I'm shaken to the core.”
The reaction has been so overwhelming I cannot help but wonder if there is a woman on the planet who has NOT been sexually harassed, assaulted, or abused, or is not in denial about it. Susan MacDonnell noted that:
“it’s not because they are so beautiful and desirable that men ‘can't help themselves,’ or because they are not beautiful and desirable and men hate them for this, or who knows what reason other than a desire to feel powerful, to overwhelm.”
Women are asking how men feel about the #MeToo” campaign and suggest that those who want to help do something about it can start by refusing to accept exist comments as funny or "locker room talk" or “boys being boys.”
One woman posted on Facebook:
“In response to all the ‘me toos’... I wonder how many assholes would cringe if we decided to call you all out by name tomorrow?“
One brave man posted on Facebook:
"All of us who grew up in a world full of shit are not clean. The best we can do as a man or as people who have been on the power/perpetrator side of a power dynamic/oppression, is recognize the world is full of shit, we’re bound to be influenced by sexist shit, to try to be aware of it in yourself, to catch yourself from perpetuating it, to train yourself to act against it, but most importantly to fight for system change. So that future generations can grow up in a world without it.
“I want to walk the balance between feeling guilty and giving admissions (since it’s always women speaking up), and on the other hand proclaiming loudly that I am fighting for the liberation of all people, women at the front of that. That I too (and most men) would benefit from a world without sexism and misogyny. But I don’t want women to be oppressed and that I work my damnedest to organize for revolutionary change that allows for the humanity of all people. And with that said…
“I too have treated women like objects or sexual play things, even though I was raised by a polite and progressive family. I too have been more aggressive than I should have been with women. Have gone beyond flirting to places that were probably intimidating, or rude, or presumptuous. I too have been manipulative emotionally. And I regret it all.
“I too have been in rooms where people have said things about women where I should have spoken up but didn’t. I too have not defended women when I should have. And I don’t know how much of this is due to the natural cocktail of hormones in my blood, But I do know there are horrible environmental factors at play... that it is occasionally mixed with alcohol, under a heavy dose of societal peer pressure in a culture that made fun of me for being shy and a wussy, nerdy or artistic, uncomfortable with the normal manly things, trying my best to fit in, trying my best to learn what everyone I thought wanted of me. And I acknowledge though much of this bad behavior was in the past, it is constant struggle to swim upstream, to even today continue catching myself from thinking or saying or doing things I was trained to do that hurt or devalue women."
We also recognize that women are also guilty of misogyny and mean cattiness. Parents, be cognizant that your children are listening and watching and you are role models for their behavior. Teach them to respect themselves and others.
Jackson Katz is an educator, author and filmmaker renowned for his activism on issues of gender, race and violence. In the Preface of his 2006 book, “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help” Katz wrote:
“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.' “Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don't go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man's voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don't use parking garages. Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don't use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don't wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don't take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don't make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.
“That, my friends, is what it’s like to be thought of as prey."
This segues directly to a Facebook post by Nicole Steenstar Darr which makes a simple but clear analogy:
“Thought that occurred to me upon seeing all the "me too" statuses. Not about sexism and sexual violence, but about a different kind of oppression..... My feed is filled with "Me too" statuses. It seems the vast majority of women have experienced sexual harassment or assault or both. “This, of course, is true even though the majority of men do not go around sexual harassing or assaulting us. “It occurs to me that if white women can understand this concept, we should also be able to understand how racism can be a thing that affects the vast majority of people of color, even though the majority of white people don't go around racially hating on people of color. (This isn't a perfect analogy, but hopefully it gets the point across.)
“So. As far as I can tell, there is zero excuse for white women failing to grasp the concept that racism is a HUGE problem for people of color, even if we don't personally feel it or see it.”
In fact, the ‘Me Too’ campaign was created by a Black activist woman named Tarana Burke, 10 years ago. It began as a grass-roots to reach sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities where women of color experience double oppression, abuse and discrimination. In a recent interview with Ebony, Burke said she sees the current hashtag movement as a “powerful” conversation starter.
Back on Facebook, Karen Lynn sums it up:
“This is stunningly important. Imagine a world in which we turn our focus from women (’what's wrong with her, why did she put up with it, her skirts is too short, etc.’) to ‘What is going on with MEN?’ Jackson Katz nails it, proving that it's not natural for men to be sexist and violent (and some women too). They can change. We need lots of social discourse on this.”