In the wake of last week’s deluge of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, victims of sexual misconduct have been flooding social media with the phrase, “Me, too.” The posts are part of an effort to demonstrate the ubiquity of sexual harassment. While some have argued that forcing individuals to out themselves shifts the onus of action from perpetrators and potential perpetrators to victims, the fact that so many have opted in to the wave of “Me, too”s is evidence of how compelling this chance to acknowledge one’s experience really is.
Two words that validate that what happened was real, that it wasn’t your fault, and that it wasn’t okay.
Two words that, with a click, mark you as part of the unenviable club of the assaulted and the harassed.
My first instinct, when I saw others claiming this fragment for their own, was that my experiences were not so bad. What I had lived was somehow not enough to “count” as assault or harassment. After all, I hadn’t been raped; what I’d experienced wasn’t violence, it was just inconvenience. It hadn’t hurt me, not really, and it didn’t really matter. I certainly wasn’t a victim, or (worse, somehow,) a survivor. It was just one of those things.
That my first, reactionary impulse was to downplay my own experiences and explain away the unwanted and unwarranted actions of another shows just how deeply ingrained our compulsion to ignore, rewrite, and erase sexual assault has become. I am what one might call an “enlightened woman;” a feminist and an activist who (I like to think) generally “gets” the intersectional intricacies of modern oppression. But while no one is beholden to adopt a title they didn’t ask for, and no one should be obligated to #metoo, regardless of whether they have been assaulted or raped or cat-called, nonetheless, our experiences are real. And no one gets to decide what justifies “Me, too” but us.
So, yeah: Me, too.
The real question is what you’re going to do about it.