#MeToo is the “overnight” viral movement that’s actually been decades in development. Long before it was a hashtag, Tarana Burke, a social worker helping sexual harassment and assault victims, first coined “Me Too” in 1997.
Nearly 12 million women (and not a few men) recently posted their #MeToo stories of sexual assault in the days following the revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s history of predatory behavior against vulnerable women. That figure will multiply many times over as the movement spreads globally. And well it should.
By the sheer numbers of lives altered and destroyed, it’s an atrocity against humanity on an historic scale – and one that has caught many (especially men) way off guard.
That’s why the responsibility for telling the Me Too story shouldn’t fall solely on the victims. That would result in mostly women isolated in single-sex camps talking from a single perspective.
So what should happen? There are others we need to hear from, like the people who knew about the assaults, but said nothing. Before they’re led from court and on to prison, the perpetrators should look their victims straight in the eyes … and apologize.
Also, very few of us can say we’re totally absolved of responsibility. Until all decent, caring men, women, family members, colleagues, and neighbors speak up against sexual abuse – and call it out when they see it – the problem will still eat away at our social fabric.
You can start by referring victims to the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). Or search for local rape crisis or domestic violence services at AskMova.org.
Just remember, doing nothing will only succeed in making it worse.