The #MeToo movement swept hard and fast. I don’t know what was so different about the Harvey Weinstein revelation (especially given that it has been referred to as Hollywood’s most known secret) that was so different from other men of power being accused of sexual harassment (Bill Cosby anybody? Or hey, the current POTUS!) but the cascading affect that it has had is powerful. To put it mildly. Since the news broke about Harvey Weinstein, powerful man after powerful man in the public eye has watched their career vanish overnight.
#MeToo showed that this is not just an isolated Hollywood problem. Sexual assault is a wide spread systemic problem that affects women everywhere all the time. Literally every woman. Because it’s every woman regardless of age, weight, height, clothes, job, religion, skin color, every woman has been sexually harassed in one form or another.
Let me say that again: Literally every woman.
My biggest problem with the #MeToo movement is that none of this is actually news. And yet so many people, mostly men, are completely shocked and blindsided to the gravity of this issue. Women have been living in this reality for centuries (remember: literally all women). I am grateful that #MeToo is bringing this all to the spotlight, that we are having conversations, that it seems like action is going to follow the movement (though we are still waiting…). But none of this is new information, it’s been going on right in front of you for your entire life.
Now to you “nice guys” who had “no idea” the reality of this situation, I have to say: where the actual fuck have you been?
Because these perpetuators of sexual harassment aren’t drunks and crazies shouting at us on the street. They are you. They are the “nice guys”. Most all of my experiences with sexual harassment and violation have been with people I considered my friends at the time.
-I went to a male friends house to hang out and have a few drinks, I ended up falling asleep on his couch, and woke up because he had his hand down my shirt and was fondling my breasts.
-At a male friends birthday party where he cornered me on a balcony and groped me while begging for a kiss as a birthday present. When I finally gave him what he wanted to get rid of him, he moved on to the next girl.
-I had a male coworker who would regularly smack my ass at work.
-At a karaoke bar with friends and a male friend trapped me in a booth and proceeded to grope me all while being explicitly told no and to stop. When I finally managed to get out of the booth he smacked my ass. I left the bar.
-I went to a party where a male friend trapped me in the bathroom with him and told me how sexy he thought I was and started touching me and only stopped because his wife showed up.
-Multiple male friends find it humorous that I don’t enjoy physical contact and will intentionally make me uncomfortable in public by touching me and invading my space to laugh at my discomfort.
-I could go on and on, but maybe you get my point?
These were all men I considered my friend at the time, none have ever apologized for how they treated me. None have shown remorse, expressed regret, acknowledged what happened, or even changed how they treated me. Ever. Some I cut off all contact with. Some I still socialize with today. Some called themselves Christian. All consider themselves “nice guys”.
#MeToo is important. And for many of the women I know it has been very triggering. It has reminded all of us of painful memories we have trained ourselves to bury. Bringing them all to the forefront. All those times our “no” wasn’t listened to, all those times we were treated like meat, all of those times we felt unsafe and were powerless to change it.
I hope this sudden epiphany that women are sexualized and objectified all the time and the remorse you “nice guys” feel at this magical realization is genuine. I hope that all of these #MeToo posts open up hearts and minds and change happens. But I’m skeptical.
I’m skeptical because what are you doing about it? How are you changing your words, your actions? Are you listening to the women around you, are you advocating for your work place to be safe and inclusive? Do you even realize how real this issue is? Have you considered that, yes, you actually are a part of the problem?
Or do you skim the articles and move on with your life?
Change needs to happen. And if you “nice guys” want to hold on to your titles, you need to live up to it. Because us women aren’t keeping your secrets any more. #MeToo helped many silenced women remember that we have a voice, that we have power, and we don’t have anything to be ashamed of. And even if that is the only change that happens, it will be revolutionary.