Yep, me too.
“Me too” were the words of dozens of women on my social media accounts this week taking part in an online campaign to show the magnitude of the problem women face when it comes to sexual harassment, particularly in the workplace. The #MeToo campaign was launched off the back of the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Harvey Weinstein.
The #MeToo” campaign has been so impressively powerful and empowering for so many people that I don’t feel awkward about joining in anymore, although I have no shame in admitting that it did take me some time.
I had originally held back from saying “me too” because the perpetrator in my case is still a ‘Facebook friend’. That probably speaks volumes in itself. I didn’t want to say that I had experienced harassment because someone might recognise that I’m talking about them. And no, I haven’t removed them from my account. After posting on Facebook, I’m almost certain he didn’t realise that I was referring to him and, at the time, I have no idea whether he knew he was doing anything wrong.
That is not a statement of absolution, but I do wonder how many perpetrators genuinely believed that their behaviour was acceptable. A lot of people don’t get to walk away as safely as I did on that occasion. I will be forever grateful that I was in a position that I could get out of.
#MeToo may be a powerful campaign, but it’s still simplistic, it’s incomplete, and it’s already dying down only a few days after launch. People have already stopped talking about it.
For those of us who will (and for those who don’t want to) say “me too”, so what? We still had to deal with it (often unsupported), there will still be occasions where we are confronted with it, and plenty of occasions where the perpetrators will get away with it. What happens when “me too” goes away, goes back to being quiet and everyone forgets the problem until the next Harvey Weinstein is outed.
While understanding the magnitude of the problem is still hugely important, I can’t help but think about what the next part of the campaign should be and extend “me too” to “me too, so what?”.
There have been responses to the #MeToo campaign by some men who are using #HowIWillChange to list ways that they plan to adapt their behaviour. Again, it’s a good step, but it’s just not widespread enough and doesn’t go far enough.
We need a better, louder and clearer public answer to how we prevent and deal with reported, unreported, casual and not so casual sexual harassment.