The TV at the gym was silent, but I headline across the bottom of the screen read, “The Harvey Weinstein Effect.”
When #metoo first materialized on social media, there were those who bemoaned the fact that it was merely the topic du jour and would fade away as quickly as that stupid “What color is this dress?” argument.
But it hasn’t. If anything, it’s picked up steam in all the major media outlets and Harvey Weinstein isn’t the only man whose despicable behavior is being called out and rightfully vilified.
There are others, and lots of them.
It seems a dam has burst and famous women from all over have come forward to speak out about misogynist treatment from men in powerful positions.
Most of us have borne the secrets in silence for years. Either we initially told someone and weren’t believed, or we couldn’t bear the shame of telling anyone.
But there is power in community. Though we don’t know these women personally, we know of them. And now that these women with influence have suffered at the hands of the same sort of predatory men that we have. The only difference is the amount of fame, power, and money.
Sometimes it takes someone in the public view speaking out about something for the subject to be affirmed. And that’s exactly what’s happened in the last couple of weeks. More and more people are posting their stories on social media with the hash tag #metoo.
And all of a sudden, millions of women are not alone. Because of the bravery of one woman and then another—and then a cascade of courageous women—the national conversation has allowed for confessions from every walk of life.
It’s even opened up the conversation about mistreatment of men and, most despicably, children.
For me, realizing I wasn’t alone was the first step to my healing. Back then, almost no one was talking about sexual abuse or harassment. If it wasn’t for a couple obscure blogs and a book on this topic, I would never have been able to admit what happened to me.
Because I had a sneaking suspicion what I know for certain right now: speaking out has consequences.
Maybe someone you love doesn’t believe you.
Or maybe they act like it’s no big deal.
Maybe others will ask what you could have done differently to avoid being mistreated. Did you dress provocatively? Were you flirty? Were you drinking or using drugs?
Or they’ll chastise you for rocking the boat. (Not cool, Barbara Walters.)
All of those are horrible, ugly responses.
And make no mistake, they will happen when you tell your story. Just like they happened to the high profile women who spoke out against the mistreatment they received by high profile men.
People I loved and trusted said some of these things to me. I had to set some pretty hard boundaries to protect myself.
But you know what? That was only the next step in healing, declaring to the world that I don’t owe anyone my silence.
It’s silence that allows the sexual abuse and harassment problem to run rampantly.
It’s the power of #metoo that chases away the shadows of shame from those who were wronged and onto the ones who actually deserve the shame.