I have to take a moment to appreciate the gesture of those tiny words. As I’ve scrolled through my social media feed over the last week, I see countless women (and men) coming forth in brave solidarity. These people are my family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors; and for many, this is the first I’m hearing of these events. This movement is not about trending or gaining new followers. It’s not about one-upping or getting attention. It’s not even about righting the wrongs of the past. It is simply about awareness. This is a demonstration that encourages volumes to speak two little words…me too.
Some of you have courageously shared the details of your experiences, and I commend you for this because I couldn’t do it. To be honest, I still feel like the times it happened to me were my fault. I still feel like I let it happen; although, the throngs of you who are bravely acknowledging that you too have had this experience is slowly chipping away at that feeling. Seeing all the #metoo posts are slowly helping to alleviate the shame.
Brene Brown a renowned author and research professor suggests that empathy is the only way to eradicate shame. In one of her videos she explains empathy with a powerful example. An example that epitomizes #metoo and why it is, in fact, a gesture of empathy.
I thought for a great while about not “fessing up” and posting the #metoo status, but I chose to speak. Besides, what has silence brought me but shame and torment? In truth, the way I’ve handled my shame is by isolating myself. I stopped living my life because I was afraid of repeating “mistakes”.I considered the situation to be something that was my fault so in attempt to gain control, I removed myself from the situation. I stopped drinking with my friends, I stopped dating, I thought twice about what I wore and how it made me look, I chose my words more carefully. I built a wall around myself. I thought it was to keep bad things out, but it has only served to keep the shame close. You see, we can try everything in our power to “remove ourselves from the situation”, but it will only do so much. When we stop living our lives, we are giving in to the shame. At the end of the day, the only thing that can ease our shame is the awareness that we are NOT actually alone.
The truth is this; if any person has tried to engage you in any sexual activity (conversations, touching, name calling, photos, etc) to which you did not provide consent, that is WRONG. It doesn’t matter if that person is your boyfriend or your boss or your coach or whatever. Taking advantage of someone by force or leveraging shame IS WRONG. The assumption that a woman is promiscuous due to her dress or behavior or that she gives consent by default of these attributes is WRONG. Consent is quite simple. It is a clear YES. Any response other than an emphatic YES is a f*cking NO.
Excuse my language, but this is a very serious thing we are dealing with. Last Monday tons of people came forward to say “me too”. To crawl down into the pit with those who are hurting and say we are here and we understand. This gesture has helped me to feel a little less shame, and a little more brave in standing up for what is right. I hope it does something similar for you, too.
In love and kindness…