#MeTooby Brie Stimson January 2, 2018
The #MeToo movement has been a strange moment for our country and an even stranger moment for women. And when I say strange I don’t mean it in a derogatory sense. I mean it seems strange because all of this bad behavior that’s finally getting a voice has been going on for, well, forever.
I remember the first time I saw the MeToo hashtag. I was at work and had Twitter on one of my computers. A woman I worked with at a previous job wrote a tweet about how she had been assaulted by three coworkers at different times in her career. She wrote #MeToo at the end of her tweet.
I didn’t realize this was the beginning of a movement at the time, and I didn’t really understand what the hashtag meant, but I admired her for being so honest. I was also shocked that had happened to her. I had known her for a long time and had never heard that. In the weeks since then I have heard many friends’ #MeToo stories, which we had never really talked about until now.
I briefly thought about tweeting about my worst #MeToo, which friends and family have known about for years, but as a private person letting myself be vulnerable to the judgment of the world (whether people believe me, whether they think my assault was bad enough to mention, whether I was “asking for it” because I was wearing a skirt or something, etc.) over what happened to me when I was 20 years old isn’t something I felt like going through.
The respect I have for these women who choose to risk their anonymity, normalcy of life, reputation and even possible litigation (the president has said he will sue his accusers) to finally tell the truth about what happened to them in the face of what has been, until now, a system skewed against them, is impossible to put into words.
When people ask ‘why didn’t she come forward until now?’ or ‘this happened 30 years ago, why didn’t she say something then?’ it seems like such a bizarre, uninformed question to me. We are finally in a climate where there is more support for women to come forward – and I still can’t bring myself to speak about it in a tweet, a Facebook post or even in a column. Thankfully I have never been raped or had any other violent sexual act perpetrated against me, but I am a woman, and as a woman I have faced harassment and at times assault since the time men first started noticing me.
I was 13 the first time a man who told me he was 22 asked me out through AOL’s Instant Messenger. He knew my age. Luckily, at this time, my mother had instilled a fear of strange men in me, so I instantly deleted my AOL account, stayed offline for like a year and cried a lot about how creepy it felt. I remember crying a lot the first time I realized a man was looking up my skirt when I was 16. I felt violated. Somehow, after that, harassment became part of the landscape to a point where I would say most women deal with a certain level of it every day and just see it as a part of life. I think we’ve all been groped on the subway and shrugged it off.
As I set about to write this month’s column, I figured it was time for me to finally write about the #MeToo moment we’re having in this country. Of course, my first thought was ‘what qualifies me? Because I’m a woman?’ I thought skeptically. But the more I thought about it I realized that yes, it is because I am a woman I am qualified to talk about it. Frankly, I think men are qualified to talk about it as well. This is a human issue and we should all support each other to make sure none of us is suffering in silence.
I hope there are more and more men who support women in speaking out. There are many men who still believe it’s a woman’s fault because she agreed to go on the date or she benefited professionally from a superior’s desire for her, but it’s time for the Old Boys Club to end.
Women are in the workplace. We can vote, drive, be the breadwinner, serve on the frontlines in the military and do anything else you can think of.
We’re not going back to the way it used to be and men are just going to have to find a way to interact with women professionally because if the #MeToo movement has anything to say about it – we’re not going to take it anymore. Α