While I was away house-sitting, a social revolution erupted. Harvey Weinstein got himself deposed on the basis of his assaults on women. This led to a Net-wide discourse on sexual assault and harassment, which was topped off by Alyssa Milano creating the following Tweet on Twitter:
And the Internet exploded.
Hiding In Plain Sight
I’ve seen many a Twitter trend in my years near the platform. But I don’t know that I have ever seen one with such a broad demographic. Many authors I follow “Me-Too”-ed. But so did many of my friends, who’ve never mentioned it to me before. My wife, of course, was not hesitant to #MeToo, given some of the horrendous experiences she has endured over the years. But many of my female family members were also not silent, with aunts and cousins all speaking up about this shared awful experience. My own mother, for heaven’s sake, felt compelled to add her voice. Where there had been nothing, suddenly a tribe was forming through a public statement of two words. It was like watching a vast army erupt from nothing, all united against the foes that had spent so long hiding in plain sight.
I saw a few men, both gay and heterosexual, attempt to jump on board as well, I also read a few well-reasoned opinion pieces on why maybe they should remain silent. Their experiences are no less valid, of course – but this was, at its heart, a battle cry of millions of women who have been victimized by a system of male hierarchy and dominance. In my mind, this would be like joining a symposium on breast cancer and spending time talking about epilepsy. It is not that the subject is less valuable – it is just that this is not the time or place for that subject to be aired.
By The Way, #MeToo
I say that because I do not want my own silence in the Twitter uprising to be misunderstood. I will stand by and watch (and cheer) as these women gather together and recognize their numbers and their strength. Who knows what they will do with such a powerful consensus? In an age when an admitted sexual predator holds our nation’s highest office, there is no better time for these women to stand together and speak together with a single voice, demanding change.
However, Misdirected is my personal forum, and here I am perfectly comfortable saying whatever I wish. With those caveats in mind, here goes:
It was 1991, and I was only 21 years old. Those who know me know the department store I was working for at the time. An extremely aggressive female supervisor began making flirtatious advances. Then unwanted physical contact. And eventually began proposing sexual acts. I attempted to back off on the basis of my marriage and my religious beliefs. She was unmoved and unrelenting, being also married herself.
My male co-workers were of no help. Their opinion was unanimous: “Dude, you should just hit that.” Most were baffled as to why I would turn this woman down in the first place. My female friends at the store were sympathetic, but had some bad news for me: “You’re just going to have to put up with it.” They had, of course, been dealing with this kind of behavior from their supervisors for their entire careers.
Desperate, I spoke to the store manager. (There was no HR department to chat with in those days.) He grimaced, turned red, and said something to the effect of: “Yeah, Jeremy, sorry, but…no one is going to believe you.”
I quit the next day.
You Go, Girls
So, ladies, thank you for stepping up and stepping forward. I applaud your courage and your self-worth. And I can only hope that, out of this movement, changes will come.
The kind of changes that a single young man was not able to make because no one would ever believe him.