‘Me too’

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - Pam Framp­ton

“If all the women who have been sex­u­ally ha­rassed or as­saulted posted ‘Me too,’ we could give peo­ple a sense of the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem.”

It’s just a sim­ple sen­tence, re­ally, just a hand­ful of words to try and shine a light on how many women have ex­pe­ri­enced vile be­hav­iour.

And over the week­end, it swept across so­cial me­dia.

Some­times, Face­book post­ings and tweets were so con­stant in out­lin­ing per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences that the “Me toos” filled post af­ter un­in­ter­rupted post, criss-cross­ing coun­tries and the in­ter­net.

The post started with ac­tress Alyssa Mi­lano, who says the idea came from a friend. By Mon­day morn­ing, over 6 mil­lion Face­book users were si­mul­ta­ne­ously dis­cussing the is­sue.

Bear in mind, for many, it’s not an easy ex­pe­ri­ence to re­veal. There are likely scores of women who could echo those ex­pe­ri­ences, but have cho­sen not to speak out, un­will­ing to have the dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sions that might arise from re­veal­ing that some­thing had hap­pened to them as well. And that is per­fectly fine. No one should be forced to pub­licly re­visit fear or pain.

But oth­ers are seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity. Some of­fer sim­ply the words, open­ing the door to just how stag­ger­ingly com­mon ex­pe­ri­ences of abuse are for women.

Oth­ers go much fur­ther, out­lin­ing the har­row­ing de­tails of ha­rass­ment or at­tacks by boyfriends, friends or mere ac­quain­tances. At­tacks by the fathers of chil­dren they were babysit­ting, teach­ers, co­er­cion by em­ploy­ers and men­tors — and the list goes on.

Sadly, it goes on and on and on.

Some de­tailed as­saults suf­fered as chil­dren; oth­ers, dis­cus­sions with mothers and other rel­a­tives about ha­rass­ment dat­ing back decades.

The scale is truly hor­ri­fy­ing. As “Me too” was spread­ing on so­cial me­dia, the head of the U.S. Na­tional Park Ser­vice was deal­ing with an in­ter­nal sur­vey that found that out of al­most 10,000 ac­tive em­ploy­ees who re­sponded, more than a quar­ter had ex­pe­ri­enced or wit­nessed ha­rass­ment. Of those who wanted to re­port the ha­rass­ment, al­most a third said they were dis­cour­aged from tak­ing ac­tion by their su­pe­ri­ors.

All Mon­day, “Me too” con­tin­ued. It prob­a­bly is con­tin­u­ing to­day as well as it reaches more and more Face­book ac­counts.

It’s more than alarm­ing, as friends’ sta­tus lines ex­plode like small fire­works: “Me too,” “Me too,” Me too.”

It feels as if most women have some­thing to say on the is­sue.

To be clear, it’s not only women who are re­veal­ing at­tacks and ha­rass­ment. Some men are shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences as well, but the cold hard fact is that the vast ma­jor­ity are women, and the vast ma­jor­ity of the abusers and ha­rassers are men.

Per­haps this is not a time for men to jump in and mansplain ei­ther ex­cuses or protes­ta­tions.

In­stead, stop and pon­der what it means that so many women have had such sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.

Think about that.

And think about what we have to do to make it stop.

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