Why the responses to #metoo didn’t shock me as much as intended.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will be aware of the cases against Harvey Weinstein, a heralded film and tv producer, stacking up on both sides of the Atlantic. Sports stars are being arrested for sexual assault left, right and centre and now accusations of sexual harassment in the Houses of Parliament have been made against a number of MPs and, because of this, the discussion about how women are treated on a day to day basis is finally a hot topic.
So much so that Alyssa Milano started a hashtag which went viral that was simply #metoo.
For days (which is a long time on Twitter) the hashtag was used by women, and some men, to show that they had been a victim of sexual harassment of some form or another. My Facebook feed showed so many of my friends who had had an experience of being taken advantage of in one way or another just because they were a girl or a woman. Just because they had breasts and a vagina.
But, do you know what? It didn’t actually shock me that much. It sickened me yes, but it didn’t shock me. This is because I am all too aware that this behaviour is seen to be the norm in our society today. It is sadly accepted by the majority of women that, at some point, they will have their arse grabbed in a bar or they will be shouted at from a van or car when they’re out running or walking. It also didn’t shock me because #metoo.
#metoo when I had my bra undone every time we sat on the mat in class to watch a video whilst in year 5 or 6.
#metoo in the same year, when I had my vest top strap broken whilst out walking on a school residential trip because a boy the same age as me was, ultimately, trying to molest me.
#metoo in summer in secondary school when I spent most of art and science class avoiding having bits of paper thrown down my shirt because the v neck was prone to gaping open when leaning over. Lets not even mention the fact that our white summer shirts were pretty much transparent so everyone could see what type of bra you were wearing underneath.
This was just the first few incidents I remember in a long line of #metoos. They were reported to teachers but other than a cursory apology from the boy, if that, nothing more was done.
These aren’t isolated incidents though as the campaign fully shows.
Whilst discussing this subject a good friend of mine reeled off 5 separate incidents that happened at school and in her early adult life that were completely inappropriate but, because of her age and innocence, at she didn’t feel she could say or do anything about it.
This isn’t just about men treating women like crap though. Sadly, some women also think this type of behaviour is ok too. Another younger friend of mine went to the Drs because of debilitating pains in her ‘reproductive area’. She was sent for an internal examination to which a female gp said ‘don’t worry, he’s got small hands’ about the gynaecologist she would be seeing. During a smear test for the same reason she was also reprimanded by another female gp for shaving her pubic hair. I mean what the actual fuck? If we can’t rely on women to treat other women with respect how can we ask men to?
But actually we shouldn’t be asking men to do anything. We should be expecting and demanding that this type of behaviour is not brushed under the carpet and is called out for what it is. Rape, in the most heanous cases, sexual assault, sexual harassment, molestation, verbal and emotional abuse. Whatever we’re going to call, it it needs to stop now.
It is 2017 and we are only now just having this conversation, that for one baffles me. I am bringing up a daughter in this world and I just hope to God that something changes and this conversation carries on and makes a difference so that these stories are less and less and women and girls can go about their business. It doesn’t matter whether they are an actress or engineer, bartender or politician they should be able to get on with their job without getting felt up along the way.