Talking about Why have 12 million women tweeted #metoo?
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)