Lest you’ve been under a rock of late, #MeToo has become a hashtag for social outrage against sexual assault and harassment.
#MeToo had the initial purpose to tell others on social media that they had experienced what an estimated—and astonishing—one in three women (HuffPost) in the United States have experienced: unwanted sexual harassment.
As multiple women have poured out their stories, the question has popped up: Why have they not shared this before?
Embarrassment is a huge reason. Fear of not being believed is another.
And then there are questions about sharing it on social media.
Author Jessi Hempel questions what we, as a society, are accomplishing by collectively voicing our disdain. She refers to a Yale assistant professor that questions how digital outrage limits our ability to actually change social realities.
“We become numb to tragedies because we’re unable
to process the emotions they engender at the speed with
which they arise.”
She says our “outrage” grows as our social media feeds fill with these stories, which increases our anger and “venting.” The Yale professor declares these are not good emotions to keep fueling.
And then she adds:
“…dense expressions of moral outrage may lead to less
meaningful involvement in social causes….”
Do you agree?
Perhaps I’m still naïve, but I believe it’s never too late to be meaningfully involved in social causes. Can we be involved in them all? I don’t believe so. We do have limited time, resources, and energy. But doesn’t it make sense to do what we can, when we can?
One of the other benefits behind #MeToo is women finding out they’re not alone.
Like this woman:
I was a young, naive teenager. My parents and their
friends and all their combined kids were gathered for a fun
summer picnic. With permission, I’d gone into the hosts’
house to use the bathroom.
I didn’t make it.
The owners’ oldest son accosted me in the kitchen.
He had me on the floor before I knew what was happening
and had his fingers where they were never, ever meant to be.
He was too strong. I couldn’t get him off me.
And then he grinned a toothy grin and let me up.
I ran back outside and never told anyone.
Do we keep these secrets? Hempel doesn’t believe we are really helping by the mass telling.
But this trend has suddenly made it safe to tell. And telling someone is good.
I have a social worker friend who always says, “There is healing in the revealing.” Meaning that when we share these things that have happened to us, they don’t stay down in the depths of our souls and fester. When we say them out loud there is a revealing that becomes the start of the healing.
As a community, do we care? Or is Hempel right and we can’t fathom changing anything? Legitimate questions need to be asked of anyone typing this hashtag. When we see someone share “MeToo,” are we taking the time to show we hear them and believe them? Are we showing that we care about where they are in the process? Let alone the very basic questions: Are you okay? Are you safe?
And, one more reason to divulge: the sharer has the opportunity to connect with another person who has likewise been sinned against. A bright spot in what previously had nothing positive about it.
Did many of you experience this trauma? According to statistics, you did. May you have the strength to tell. May you have the heart to forgive. And may you be able to help others who have been through it.
The story I shared was not from an anonymous woman, but mine. If you are reading this and haven’t told anyone of your experience or need some help processing, please comment below. Let’s dig deep, brush off our numbed feelings we’ve set aside for too long, put some light on a dark subject and seek the healing that can be ours.