The Problem With #Metoo

If you use any form of social media whatsoever, you’ve probably come across the #metoo hashtag, where women share their experiences of sexual harassment with the world to draw attention to the problem. You’d also have heard about what started it all – the numerous allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The movement gained impetus on social media after a call to action by the actor Alyssa Milano, one of Weinstein’s most vocal critics, who wrote: “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.”

But who are these “people” we’re trying to convince? It’s surely not women, since the vast majority of us already know about the problem. We normalise it, joke about it, roll our eyes at it, blame each other for it, and do what we can to take responsibility for it – even though we shouldn’t have to. We keep our mouths shut about it when in the company of men, for fears of being belittled and “mansplained” by arrogant middle aged dudes who are pretty sure these problems don’t actually exist.

The #metoo movement is important, but not to give men an idea of the magnitude of the problem. If they aren’t already aware of it, they are a part of it: they have a low level of awareness of what’s happening around them in the world, and don’t respect women enough to listen to them, or believe them.

Why #metoo matters is simply because it increases women’s courage. It helps us “buck the trend” of making ourselves small to keep other people comfortable, and to instead say, “You know what? I don’t feel like hiding anymore. Fuck it. I don’t care if you feel uncomfortable. MY AUTHENTIC VOICE ACTUALLY MATTERS, FUCKSTICLE.”

As for the decent men who already interact with women as their equals, listen to them and know that sexism exists, what’s the next step? How can they help to make the #metoo stories of sexual harassment of women a far less normalised part of our society?

Sexual harassment doesn’t manifest from thin air. There has to be a level of disrespect and entitlement in the first place, beneath it all – and perhaps this is what we need to address first and foremost. The best thing good men can do is start to speak out about the seemingly “little things”. Stop laughing at your mate’s sexist jokes for starters – a low-level, cheap, unintelligent form of humour which is absolutely disgusting.

I think #metoo is fantastic and I wholeheartedly support all women who’ve gotten behind the movement. But for me personally, I don’t want to try to list off examples – even though I have plenty. I’m so tired of explaining and feel like I’ve been doing it my whole life.

What I’d like to see, instead, is women giving far less fucks about men’s feelings, and men making small changes to do better.

4 thoughts on “The Problem With #Metoo

  1. firobertson says:

    I couldn’t agree more Denise.
    Since the ‘me too’ hashtag, I spoke to my husband about the assaults I could recall personally, things I’ve never mentioned before because, you know, if they’re not actual rape they ‘don’t count’, plus they’re just the same sorts of incidents that all your friends and female colleagues have been through, too – anyway my husband just looked stunned and uncomfortable. And I realised how incredibly widespread this problem must be if a relatively sheltered, privileged woman like myself can just list off several instances. It was really confronting to think about.
    By the way, just as an aside, apparently a woman called Tarana Burke was the first woman to use the ‘me too’ phrase in relation to sexual assault – she used it to help sexual assault survivors feel less alone, from around ten years ago. Alyssa Milano didn’t know this though, and was the first to use it on Twitter (they’ve since ‘connected’ on Twitter!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Denise Mills says:

      Yes, very widespread. I didn’t partake in the #metoo thing because I worried that my experiences (not mentioned here) were either too terrible sounding (and I don’t want to be labelled a “survivor”, my identity is not at all impacted by past experiences) or not terrible enough! I don’t know a woman alive who hasn’t experienced sexual harassment of some form or another.

      Did not know about Tarana, thank you for that.


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