Talk­ing about Why have 12 mil­lion women tweeted #metoo?

Woman (UK) - - Contents -

Tanith Carey, 50, lives in Lon­don with her hus­band, an­thony, 52. They have two chil­dren, Lily, 15, and Clio, 12.

When I spot­ted #metoo on Twit­ter, my first re­ac­tion was that it didn’t ap­ply to me – af­ter all, I’d never been raped by a Hol­ly­wood mogul in a ho­tel suite. But then I started think­ing…

I re­mem­bered how, as a 16-year-old ex­change stu­dent, an older man had fol­lowed me into a toi­let cu­bi­cle in France. He grabbed my wrist but I man­aged to push past him and get away.

I re­called the mo­ment when, in my early twen­ties, I bent over to pick some­thing up from un­der my desk and the male col­league sit­ting next to me drawled, ‘While you’re down there…’

I had a flash­back to the busi­ness­man who, while I was sit­ting on a crowded Tube train on my way to work, un­zipped his suit trousers and ex­posed him­self.

Those mem­o­ries of hu­mil­i­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ences just kept com­ing. It was then I re­alised… yes, #metoo. Be­fore, I’d as­sumed these in­ci­dents didn’t count – they were part of the job de­scrip­tion of be­ing a woman.

Of course a creepy com­ment or a quick grab can’t be com­pared to rape. But why should it be OK to be heck­led in the street? For young girls to be groped in a night­club? It’s still ha­rass­ment. And yet, if we speak up, we’re of­ten dis­missed as trou­ble­mak­ers or drama queens. But the 12 mil­lion women shar­ing #metoo proves how un­safe we are.

I worry for my daugh­ters. I feared for Lily, 15, when she rang me in tears be­cause a man was fol­low­ing her in the street. I’m con­cerned for Clio, 12, when I see the deroga­tory way boys her age talk to girls on so­cial me­dia, call­ing them ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’. The #metoo phe­nom­e­non could fi­nally draw a line un­der decades of sex­u­ally preda­tory be­hav­iour.

If broth­ers care about their sis­ters, if dads care about their daugh­ters, maybe #metoo will end up be­ing more than just an­other so­cial me­dia hash­tag. It could mark a new be­gin­ning.

‘we’re dis­missed as drama queens’

✱ Girls, Un­in­ter­rupted: Steps

For Build­ing Stronger Girls In A Chal­leng­ing World by Tanith Carey (£7.99, Icon Books)

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