I had planned for this week’s post to be about my fertility journey up until now, but then a hashtag about sexual assault and harassment took off on social media and I thought it was too important not to comment on.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) 15 oktober 2017
Thousands of women across the world today have been writing ‘Me too’ on their social media to highlight the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault. This comes in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Even though the Harvey Weinstein revelations have been focussed on Hollywood, there are Harvey Weinstein’s in all industries. I can think of at least one workplace where a man used his position and power to bully and sexually harass female staff and was protected and it was the female whistle blowers who were forced to leave their jobs.
The #MeToo hashtag has been about showing just how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are across society. As one friend wrote on Facebook “I reckon I’d be more likely to find a unicorn than a woman who has never been sexually harassed or assaulted.”
Yet I still struggled to remember incidents*, especially of sexual harassment. I think there are a couple of things at play here, at least for me.
Firstly there’s a sense of downplaying the seriousness of things that have happened. Anything other than rape doesn’t seem as serious. To be clear I’m not saying that anything other than rape is less serious. I count myself as lucky enough to have never been raped so anything other than rape feels like a lucky escape and not as bad as what other women have gone through.
Secondly women often face varying degrees of sexual harassment on such a regular basis that it just becomes part of our everyday. And sometimes it’s not until much later that you realise that certain behaviour wasn’t actually acceptable and it’s okay not to feel good about how someone else has made you feel, either through their words or actions.
Today’s mass action has given me the space to acknowledge experiences I have had, and say that it’s not okay. It’s not something women need to accept as part of our lives. And it’s up to men to start believing us when we do disclose sexual assault or harassment.
To all the women speaking out today, and every other day:
I stand with you. I see you. I believe you.
*I considered sharing some of my own experiences and I can think of at least three different examples that come to mind, including one of sexual assault, but decided against it. Quite possibly because I have tried to forget about the sexual assault in particular and therefore haven’t really dealt with it.