I did not participate in the #MeToo posts on social media. I could have, maybe should have, but I couldn’t wrap my head around sharing a blip of info in the context of something so huge and scandalous. This would have been the first time I shared anything publicly, and there was a lot to say. Everyone was doing it Rachel, why not? I thought to myself.
Now that the #MeToo campaign has exploded and dissipated a bit, and since I’ve had some time to really think about the phenomenon of speaking up and actually naming what happened, who did it and when, I’ve got some thoughts.
These thoughts are of course mine, but I presume they are also reminiscent of those belonging to many other women.
It’s a feeling difficult to express. For so many years (my entire life), I had never experienced such an outpouring of similar pieces of a shared story. I admired those sharing, describing and summarizing, or just simply admitting they were, like so many others, assaulted or harassed. Similar to the incredibly powerful experience of participating in the Women’s March on Washington at the beginning of the year, it felt amazing to be a woman among all women. So I didn’t feel like sharing my varied stories of all the times I had been harassed or assaulted. Those details didn’t matter, not as much as the message that we are all in this together now.
We can speak freely about it. We don’t have to cry in private, write in our journals, be examined by therapists and energy healers about why we are sensitive or fearful. We don’t have to get stronger and develop thicker skin, be the bigger person and try not to make it mean anything about ourselves. We don’t have to give disclosures to new partners about why it may take some time to feel comfortable naked, or learn how to initiate as requested, or feel sexy and confident in our own skin at all. We don’t have to hide our bodies more when we leave the house, so we won’t tempt anyone, or “ask for it” or be judged instantly as loose. We don’t have to master the art of forgetting their names, their smell, their gall, while we shrink smaller, avoid, not get promoted, take on more for less, and keep our damn mouths shut through it all.
Because that’s exactly what we’ve done. We learned it by watching each other. Women who speak up are bitter, angry bitches and liars. Women who claim the boss gave them an ultimatum didn’t have the skill set to keep their jobs. Women who admit someone harassed them must have been confused or stupid or drunk. Stop being such sensitive pussies we were told. Grin and bear it honey- it’s all part of life, others said. We had it far worse than you have it now, more said.
So now, here we are. Out. We’ve pulled back the covers and are facing it. Yeah, so much shit has happened. Yeah, it wasn’t easy or comfortable for any single woman. Yet, most of us still got up every day and lived through it – in our individual way. We’re a strong force, and we’ve never flaunted that. Until perhaps, now. And for me, that is one of the most wonderful outcomes of this message – women are strong AS FUCK. (Yep, I went there).
At first, when people started sharing their #MeToo posts, I felt awkward and a bit sad with these heavy memories that social media can’t possibly soothe in responses restricted to a number of characters. Now I feel different. Because we’ve all for the most part, already gotten over those instances and tough experiences. We had to. The posts aren’t about consoling each other – they’re about speaking up, not backing down and retreating. Being part of that shift almost moves me to tears. It’s so powerful to unify, support one another, hear each other, and say oh yeah? ME TOO.