The fallout following the Harvey Weinstein allegations has been endless, with the tag #MeToo appearing far and wide across all social media platforms. What astounded me most was the shear number of people on my Facebook feed who shared this status and thus, an experience of sexual assault or harassment. These women are of all ages, from scores of different countries, and different backgrounds. Yet these differences fade away in the face of such experiences.
One of the most memorable articles I read is entitled 'Literally, Why Can't I Say Me Too?' (link here). Ruckh's piece publicises many thoughts that are usually limited to the private sphere. Her piece explains that despite a string of personal experiences of sexual assault and harassment, she still could not bring herself to share the #MeToo status. Her explanation follows (it is a long excerpt but it is worth the read);
'Yet I found that I couldn’t say it. And at the time of this writing, I still struggle to say it. Not because it’s not true. And not even because I find these things hard to talk about. I’ll talk to anyone about any experience. I’m an open book. I just…somehow…feel like my experiences weren’t “bad enough” to say #MeToo. I’ve mostly recovered from all of this. I don’t think about any of it too often or feel too deeply affected by any of it long-term. I don’t feel like a victim. And because I don’t feel like a victim, I struggle to call my experiences what they really are: indecent exposure to a child, assault, rape, abuse.
I feel guilty using those words. I feel like I’m being dramatic. Or desperate to be part of a conversation for attention. I feel like I’m exaggerating. And I truly, in my heart, can’t figure out if I am. I can’t and don’t trust my own judgment with the severity of less-than-pleasant occurences that have happened in my life. It’s never been a matter of me thinking people wouldn’t “believe me.” It’s been an issue that I barely “believe” myself. And I don’t know what that says about me.
But I do know this: my attitude, my feelings, and my self-doubt are part of the problem. I consider myself to generally be a strong, educated, feminist woman with a decent platform where my voice can be heard. Yet I have trouble identifying these things, and further excuse them when they happen to me. That’s not good. It doesn’t have to be “bad enough” for it to count. And regardless of whether I’m comfortable or you’re comfortable saying #MeToo, we all need to admit that we have a problem.'
I resonate with Ruckh's public admission over her private anxieties very strongly. This past year has presented me with many a situation whereby close friends have been on both sides of a sexual assault or harassment case. Such events throw my beliefs and opinions in limbo every time, as case by case, I realise that sexual assault and harassment is never black and white. As I have had to except that each case will present a different learning point for me about sexual norms and how they must be tackled, I find solace in Ruckh's closing line 'regardless of whether I’m comfortable or you’re comfortable saying #MeToo, we all need to admit that we have a problem.' And yes, although the huge amounts of women currently sharing their story and the #MeToo shocks me, I again take solace in the fact that women are now bravely sharing their stories and empowering one another's voice in due course.
To the women that shared this status, thank you for your bravery. You have truly blown me away by revealing the true extent of the problem at hand, and shown just how little dialogue or discussion there is about these events. From these stories, I now realise how they must be learnt from, and used to understand how best we tackle this issue that is evidently endemic in today's society.
At EmpowerHerVoice, news like this only drives us in the pursuit of our goals. We believe that by creating platforms enabling women to speak publicly about these sorts of issues, we can truly begin to learn about and address these social issues.
We have upcoming talks at the university campuses of Oxford and Duke, so if you would like make use of either platform to speak about a topic of your choice, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your information. Additionally, if you would like to share your #MeToo story, we will be posting highlights on this Stories page and our Instagram.
Thanks for reading, and Harvey, fuck you.
Written by Phoebe O'Hara