Thinking of #MeToo

You’d be hard pressed to not know what the #MeToo movement or hashtag is. The words really resonate with the fact that so many people are survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The numbers are higher for women as survivors of harassment or assault. In Canada, almost 500,000 will be sexually assaulted each year. This number might sound high or low to some. I am going to offer that the number is likely too low. Statistics in the US are also overwhelming. From RAINN we see that in the US every 98 seconds a woman is sexually assaulted. These stats essentially mean that we all know several people who are survivors.

We are at a tipping point and people are listening to women, girls, and others about different untenable situations that they have faced. It used to be that we didn’t talk about our me too situations. They are ugly and we likely want to move on and not remember the ugliness from work, home, a bar or just about every darn place that we live. My first #MeToo was in junior high, but the me too moments or situations that stung the worse were with partners or in the workplace. There are too many stories to tell.

I took this photo in an Old Navy. It is a shirt in celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8th.

The Pain of #MeToo: Moving Forward

The #MeToo tag and subsequent anecdotes have gone viral. The tag was first referred to by Tarana Burke, an activist, who recounted her own story. But, in the last week, Actress Alyssa Milano used the tag and it spread like wildfire on social media and beyond. The legacy media responded by covering the story and it would be pretty hard to avoid the stories. We are at a tipping point. In the last two years, more stories came out regarding the current President of the United States—some thanks to the leaked audio and others thanks to the women coming forward. We also witnessed women coming forward regarding their terrible stories with actors and Hollywood moguls.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are not new. It’s a known fact that rape is often used as a weapon of war during conflict. But, it was just in my lifetime that marital rape was coined. And, it was also in my lifetime that academic job interviews were moved from hotel rooms to lobbies or more public meeting places. I am certainly not condoning this behavior. I am stating fact. The stories that are flooding papers, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere are important to listen and read—even if they are painful. These stories are too familiar.

Like most women, I have my own stories. The situations that stem from a tween through recent situations. But, where I have some semblance of power is the way that I support people around me. I am empowered, if not required, to speak up and support others. And, I do. My last post referred to a more common contact that I’m seeing on my social media channels—unwanted contact by men. I’ve taken to blocking once these sorts of contacts, as I don’t want to be hit on via LinkedIn, Instagram or other social media networks.

As a leader, I am familiar with the policies at work, and as a mentor, I am also supportive of my mentees and helping them maneuver any issues. LIkewise, I am glad to see that we are talking about sexual assault and harassment and the conversations are including men. Good. Overall, we are all responsible with making change and moving forward, so that the #MeToo stories become less common. However, I want to see more frank discussion about stopping violence against women and  conversations about unacceptable behavior.

IMG_2861