The “me too” campaign is going strong as more women – and men! – share stories and testimonials of what they’ve experienced or witnessed others live through, and although I am overjoyed that light is finally being shed on a crucial matter, I am saddened by many people’s reactions. For instance, every #metoo posted equals three “yeah so what? There are more urgent matters like war”.
Yes there are terrible things happening all over the world, does that mean we should neglect the abused in favour of things we mostly cannot handle ourselves? This is a matter we can fix, or help diminish by removing the taboo label off this behavioral herpes that sweeps our nations still. It is a worldwide issue, something that has been shut up in diaries, whispered and hushed for too long, something nobody should have to endure in silence or be silenced for having endured.
Abuse and assault of all kinds are what bring disease to our societies, mental disease, heart disease, invisible illnesses that plague so many secretly because this world is too blind to see and too ashamed to acknowledge that this is real and dire to address. We cannot sprinkle glitter on the matter and say “oh it’s a Hollywood thing”; it’s in your city too, in your street, at your kids’ school and your wife’s workplace, in your friend’s home and at the supermarket. It’s what keeps your neighbour from sleeping soundly or what makes your mother lock her door twice.
I have lived through too many things to allow people to disregard this issue, to trivialise my or anyone’s life altering encounters. I have been groped in taxis, spoken to graphically by strangers, talked to inappropriately at wotk, followed on my birthday as I left the metro alone at night and ran for my life only to have a pseudo friend ask me if at least my almost aggressor was cute. How could being cute make up for whatever could’ve happened if my feet had failed me? How could being cute make up for what could’ve broken inside me if two strangers hadn’t interfered and ran with me for a while? He wasn’t cute. He was scary and tall and made me dread walking at night, an activity I had always loved, and that whether alone or accompanied. He was a criminal and he stole my sense of security.
I wasn’t dressed in a revealing way. I didn’t mislead him with my words. I didn’t instigate him in any other way than by being there at that moment, when he decided I would make an excellent prey. There are no valid reasons, no possible excuses for such acts. There are urgent matters all around us, but right now we should open our eyes and ears and fight for more justice, push our faltering societies to act and alter our defective upbringing so that future generations don’t live through this fear we have borne for too long because speaking up would lead nowhere or would bring shame upon us. It’s not our fault. We didn’t ask for it and we don’t deserve it.
It is easy to forget that we are the actors not only of our own lives but others’ too; we are not mere extras in the picture, we’re supporting actors engaged for the betterment of each other’s days. You can help change things, and #MeToo.