It has been months since the #MeToo movement reached a peak flooding all of our social media and news feeds. I kept telling myself when the time was right I would write about my feelings on this but week after week I couldn't seem to put my feelings into words.
What is the #me too movement? It was created in 2006 by Tarana Burke in order to spread awareness and understanding about sexual assault in underprivileged communities of colour and recently was shared by a celebrity Alyssa Milano on twitter.
On October 15, 2017 I came across the circulating facebook status:
If all women/men who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too." as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
#itsnotokay "I reposted it without a second thought. Then I watched #metoo fill up my news feed, some were simple reposts, others were accompanied with personal stories and like any other movement came the negative remarks of the trending hashtag. It wasn't long after until news stories were being released of accusations of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood and in Politics. I sat back and revelled in what felt like the tides finally turning, our voices were finally being heard, but even that sense of pride became tainted with rage over the negativity by some of the public's reactions. The conflicted feelings kept compiling as I processed the fact that some public figures, actors/actresses, musicians etc that I looked up to or had an impact on my life were exposed/accused of sexual misconduct, rape, sexual harassment, and victim blaming. A sense of sadness and anger directed at the predators I had let be a part of my life through movies, tv and music, were only overshadowed by the deep sense of pride I had for the victims who had the courage to speak up. One of my favorite bands I used to listen to growing up and found therapeutic to listen to after I was raped, the lead singer was accused of multiple counts of sexual misconduct. It is never easy to learn that someone you know or care about may be/ is a predator, I try to be diligent in expelling negativity from my life (when you have experienced rape you tend to carry the negative memory, emotions and shame with you and there is not room for much other negativity when you are trying to maintain a happy and positive life)
Over the last few months I have sat down and thought hard about what this movement means to me. When I think about why it was so easy for me to write #metoo I think about how I am a clear cut easy to identify victim of assault. I am sure some of my friends and family were not only not surprised but expecting me to repost this status. But it is not this way for everyone, I am very open about what was done to me and what my struggle after was like but this is not for everyone and that is okay. I have come across several assault victims/survivors that have mixed feelings about this campaign it is triggering for some where for others it is empowering and I believe you should do what feels right for you. There is nothing wrong with keeping your story private ...no one owes anyone their story even in a movement like this. Some women I know even felt like they were being called out by this movement, they felt an immense pressure to divulge, what for some are the worst times of their lives, they felt a pressure to explain themselves if they were to write MeToo. It is totally valid to feel this way but I think the part of this movement that I like the most is that it also includes sexual harassment something so common that it has become normalized by society. If you are a sexual assault victim and were to repost a status like this you have no obligation to talk about your assault.
I type #metoo as a rape victim but I also type it as a women who has experienced a spectrum of sexual harassment in and out of the work place. It is hard to not let my rape overshadow all the rest and down play the significance of harassment. The negativity I had mentioned before about the news stories often sited that the victims should have known what they were getting into, why didn't they just say no, or the statement that sexual harassment accusations were nothing compared to the accusations of rape and by publicizing things such as unwanted kisses, groping, sexual harassment speech etc that the goal to end rape was going to be overshadowed and lost. I had a conversation with a friend recently about this exact subject, I asked her, where are we supposed to draw the line, because right now it seems that it will take allot of work and time to stop monsters from raping and molesting; sometimes so much that it feels impossible, do we ignore the sexual misconduct and harassment until it becomes severe enough? Or do we address the problem as a whole. Normalizing sexual harassment in turn perpetuates rape culture yes rape culture, If unwanted sexual remarks, touching, kissing, groping is excusable where is the line? I have been "lucky" that my experience is the acceptable case of rape in societies eyes, besides the fact that I was too afraid to report. No one can blame me for being intoxicated, for knowing my accuser, for dressing to revealing etc because none of that was the case. But why when it isn't like the rape scenes in the movies does society find a way to explain it away?