Typing five letters. Who knew it could be so hard?
Women everywhere flooded social media with statuses and posts saying “Me too” or using the hashtag, #metoo last week. The movement began when allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced; made to show the volume of sexual harassment and assault. It’s meant to help people speak out about their experiences without feeling ashamed.
It’s has great intentions.
But I couldn’t do it.
I could not write those five, measly, little letters. It’s not that I haven’t been sexually harassed or assaulted – what girl hasn’t? It’s not like I am ashamed or shy about it.
The problem is, it wasn’t traumatizing. It happened. Moved on. It’s over.
#MeToo feels like too much to characterize the harassment and minor assault I’ve experienced. The language used – “survivor” – feels like too much. What was survived? A catcall from a frat boy? Being groped by a drunk old man? That hardly feels that something that was “survived.”
Some women have gone through so much worse. “Actual assault.“ My feminist brain tells me not to be stupid. All assault is actual assault.
But when it’s yourself, it feels invalidated.
This movement has been big. Many women have written #metoo and it really does show the volume of these acts. It happens everywhere. All the time.
But this movement creates pressure. Pressure to be involved, share stories and experiences.
It’s almost like it’s shameful to not post “me too.” I mean everyone is doing it, so what’s the big deal?
Doesn’t this feel counter intuitive to what the movement is meant to do? It’s supposed to take away shame. Make women feel liberated and able to share their stories. And if it does that for some people, that is phenomenal.
But to the women who don’t feel like they are validated, to the women who are too nervous, and to the women who just don’t want to: you are not alone.
Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #MeToo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story.
— Alexis Benveniste (@apbenven) October 16, 2017
Women – anyone – do not owe the world their stories. It’s private.
As long as you feel comfortable, and have gotten the help you need – be that talking to a friend, a therapist, or the police – then forget about everyone else.
Just because you have gone through something, that doesn’t mean it’s on your shoulders to fix.
The movement is powerful, don’t get me wrong. No one should feel ashamed to speak out or speak up. And it’s so important that people do. But no one should feel ashamed not to either.
It’s a choice.
And just like when you were a 14-year-old kid, hanging out with friends who were drinking or smoking, don’t let peer pressure sway your decision.
If you are comfortable to talk about. Do it. Talk. Share your story. It can be validating and feel strong. But that doesn’t mean it has to be part of a social media movement.
Talking to your friends, or little sibling, or anyone in person is going to have a larger impact anyways.
And hopefully soon, it won’t be obvious that every women is a Me Too.