Fad. Craze. Trend. I’ll be honest with you: I dislike them (with the exception of SOME. I’ve got lots of skinny jeans, k?). I’m probably in the minority when I say that, seeing as though so many of them go viral, but, it’s just not normally my thing. Well, this week I’ve seen a small few talk about #metoo being a fad. I disagree, and here’s why.
Fads occur because their momentum is fueled by people’s desire to have camaraderie about something. They don’t want to be left out. It’s fun. It’s comfortable doing the same thing everyone else is doing. We want to feel a part of the group, in the moment.
I don’t know anyone who would want to admit to being sexually harassed or assaulted just to FIT IN. That is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard, AND YET, I saw someone comment on a friend’s post that she thought all of the people posting their #metoo statuses were doing so for attention.
Maybe those making such comments have never experienced sexual harassment or assault. Maybe they lack empathy. Those are the only two explanations I have because everyone I know who has experienced some form of it is not rushing at the chance to blast it all over social media. There is a calculated decision in clicking the post button, a deep hesitance in taking that step. I hesitated myself because I thought maybe my experiences didn’t give me the right to post. Friends of mine have survived the worst kind of sexual assault. The extent of my experiences are having my butt and breasts grabbed, being called a slut, being cat-called at a young age by much older men, and being talked to inappropriately at work by a male coworker. But maybe that is part of the problem. Although my own personal experiences do not warrant the same trauma that comes with rape, they did cause confusion and shame, especially those that occurred when I was a teen. Making the choice to share anything personal can be scary, and it is people who share the perspective of that woman’s Facebook comment that help keep others in fear of speaking out. That needs to change.
So no, #metoo is not a fad; it’s a MOVEMENT. The difference lies in the momentum. And the momentum is not a desire for attention of oneself but for what is happening right in front of our faces. The truth of the matter is that for decades a blind eye has been turned to the amount of sexual harassment and assault that occurs. Actually, much of the time it ISN’T a blind eye; it is a cold hard stare threatening us not to say anything. It wasn’t that long ago that sexual harassment actually got a name in this country. Decades of abuse does not heal quickly; I hope we have finally started to figure that out.
One of the biggest criticisms I have heard of the #metoo movement, however, is that it only puts focus on the negative and does not solve anything. I disagree, and here’s why.
The term ‘awareness’ gets thrown around a lot, but it is an important word. Awareness, to me, goes beyond concern and being well-informed about something. Of course, that is the first step. But it is also a call to action. BOTH are important to shifting the tides. If the awareness is not there, a call to action falls on deaf ears. If an awareness is present without action, we remain in a state of stagnation. Both play a role in the tide turning, and I do not believe a substantial level of awareness has been reached yet. #metoo was an attempt to shake people awake. Sometimes we just don’t know what we don’t know. But MAYBE, just maybe, if the awareness level rises, the momentum will follow suit. I have high hopes it is on its way.
If #metoo helps shift one person’s perspective on the way they treat a human being, then that one shift can cause a ripple and possibly disrupt a destructive cycle.
If #metoo helps one person become more aware that sexual harassment and assault are happening more often than they realize, it may help them speak up for someone else or physically donate their time or resources for the cause.
If #metoo helps someone know they are not alone, it may help them speak up and seek help, if they need it.
If #metoo helps our younger generations see that it is okay and empowering to stand up to harassment or assault, then maybe they will do so in their own lives, were they to ever become faced with that situation.
If #metoo helps us understand the dire importance of teaching our children about consent and respect, then we are helping shift the momentum for future generations.
THERE IS THE AWARENESS. THERE IS THE ACTION.
Tides turn and change because of gravity and inertia. Movement and force. For so long, the force has been a desire to keep others silent, make them submit, and convince them to not rock the boat out of fear.
The moon is moving. The force is shifting. The tides are turning.