In the wake of the assault and rape allegations that have come to light against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, a simple hashtag has overtaken social media on October 15th, 2017 and October 16th, 2017.
The requirements to post this hashtag are simple: if you have ever experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault, post #MeToo.
It was actress Alyssa Milano who inspired this hashtag, suggesting that if “all the women 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.” That problem, of course, is sexual harassment and assault, which often goes unreported or unpunished due to the nature of society and the prevalence of the acts.
Now, before I continue, I want to preface this by saying that this isn’t a man-hating, feminist blog piece. I have never labeled myself as a “feminist” (preferring “egalitarian” instead). I don’t care if someone catcalls me as I walk down the road, as this usually makes me feel good. So stop rolling your eyes at this being “just another whiny snowflake” thinkpiece, and open your eyes and your hearts instead.
Last night, as I saw more and more friends post the #MeToo hashtag, at first I was shocked. For me, my first thought went to “rape” or “molestation”, until I realized that harassment was also included. That made more sense. But then, I saw some people referring to the #MeToo posters as “Victims”. What?
I am not a victim of assault. And I am thankful for that. However, I have experienced harassment. Not often. But it’s happened. Not enough to make me a victim.
It took me over twenty-four hours to post the #MeToo hashtag on my Twitter page. And that was for many reasons.
- For me, harassment is not prevalent. Half the time, I roll my eyes and delete the comment, or I spit fire back at them. It doesn’t ruin my day. I don’t have to get a restraining order. I don’t fear for my safety. Do I qualify?
- Harassment is different than assault. Rape victims were posting #MeToo in swarms. Why should I also use that hashtag when my personal experience with harassment has equaled unwanted dick pics and inappropriate comments about my curves and lips?
- I am not a victim. Or at least, I don’t consider myself to be one. Again, nothing I have experienced has led to me turmoil and therapy. Most of the times, it equates to me sending screenshots to friends and saying, “Look at this loser.” Why should I be allowed to use this hashtag amongst those who have been degraded so much?
And in this thinking, I realized that I was doing what so many in society do. What most in society do. What even some rape and molestation victims do.
I was making excuses for bad behaviour. I am justifying people’s douchey actions as a result of my own behaviour. What should I expect?
I am the one choosing to wear makeup and tight clothes in my selfies. I am the one putting glitter on my arms and breasts. I am the one creating sexy cosplays to wear at cons. I am the one doing so many squats to keep my booty perky. I am the one who promotes my social media (which features all of these things) constantly, has nothing locked down or private, and encourages people to share my work and my photographs. I am doing all of these things.
I am not asking people to send me pictures of their genitals in my inbox (which is why my Snapchat is still public, but can now only receive snaps from those I’ve friended). I am not asking people to slide in my DMs with “Hey, kitty, kitty…” and call me a cunt when I don’t respond in 30 seconds flat. I am not asking people to comment “I bet you’d taste good on my face” on a video about donating to communities. I am not asking for any of these things.
Whenever people ask why I don’t go to clubs, I tell them that it’s for two reasons: overpriced drinks and douchebags.
The last time I went to a club was 2014. I went with one of my best friends, and we made a pact to pretend to be lesbians for the night to avoid creepers. Yes. We had to make a pact to have a good time. Even so, I can’t count the number of men and women who grabbed my ass that night as they walked by, even though I was wearing jeans. Once my friend and I began to drink, I can’t tell you the number of people who began to approach us.
By the end of the night, we allowed two men to dance with us. My dance partner pretended he wanted to whisper sometime to me and LICKED MY FACE when I leaned in to hear better. My friend’s dance partner grabbed her hand and shoved it down his pants.
We spent the rest of the night hiding in a handicapped stall together until a male friend came to pick us up, drunkely ranting to each other and to various friends we called about how everyone at that club was such an asshole and that this is why we stick to concerts and restaurants. We were pissed, and repeated issues like this is why we gave up on clubs.
This is not okay.
We weren’t roofied. We weren’t raped. And I’m sure we could easily scream from the mountains what happened, only to be told by people of all genders that 1) that’s what happens in clubs, 2) we shouldn’t have been wearing crop tops and skinny jeans, and 3) that we shouldn’t have been drinking for half the night.
And this is for a face lick and some inappropriate touching. A story that I normally tell humourously as a testament of why clubs are dumb. Just think if we had been sexually assaulted, and needed medical attention instead of a drunken girls’ gossip session in a restroom stall. What would have happened?
If we’re being honest, we all know that the answer is not enough.
And that’s why this hashtag exists.
And that’s why this hashtag is important.
And that’s why I’ve learned to say…