Me Too! The social media phenomena of women announcing that they too have been subjected to sexual harassment has taken the world by storm. Yes, the world. This is not hyperbole, women from Germany, Italy, the Arab countries even Nairobi have been posting Me Too! Not that anyone should be surprised that women all over the world are subjected to sexual harassment. This abuse extends way beyond celebrity casting or factory work. However, in addition to the global Me Too! response is something that is different. Men are responding. And men are responding positively: not with rationalizations or minimizations. With tweets of “I hear you! “or even “I was guilty!” Guilty of not standing up, of not saying something when they observed another man making a lewd comment, of shaming the victim who dared to say stoop. This is not just the celebrities rallying against Harvey Weinstein. Everyday men are saying “I understand.”
Women have long been united in trying to empower other women. In the marches, the protests or gatherings there is always a small percentage of men who will stand up for women’s rights. Is this a change to more global activism? We can only hope that men and women unite against all forms of abuse. The message needs to change. One recent article noted that we have depersonalized violence to being out there, as if the perpetrators are some alien force, not human. It’s domestic violence not significant others attacking their loved one What if we read, there was X number of men raping women or X number of teenage boys impregnating teenage girls. Can men join women in standing up to other men or calling expressing their own victimization without shame. Can we hope that someday it will not be Women’s empowerment but Human Empowerment? Well, we just might have taken a step. I look forward to the day it is not about men, women, or any other group. May the next blogger be able to comment “We treat all living being with respect”
Sexual harassment is abuse. Often the dynamics are the same as with more physical forms of sexual violence. The same power differential and the same intimidation. Unfortunately, it can lead to the same lasting PTSD difficulties as well as loss of employment, opportunity and potential. Disclosure can be as difficult as the harassment and lead to even further difficulties. Reading the stories of Me Too posts expose harassment for what it is… simply a longer word for abuse.