#MeToo

By on October 18, 2017

metooSurely you’ve seen it on social media? Or even the nightly news? #MeToo. If you don’t know what it’s about (and you SHOULD, it’s EVERYWHERE), here’s the really brief nutshell version of the story: women, who have been sexually assaulted or harassed are sharing their voice on social media by simply posting #MeToo.

Scarily, everywhere I look friends, business associates and acquaintances have been posting #MeToo. And not unlike a hurricane gathering up more strength and power, this declaration has evolved. It’s not about pretty want-to-be actresses wearing low cut blouses and thigh-high skirts; it’s about women (and MEN) of all shapes, sizes, ages, races etc. that have felt the razor sharp sting of harassment or assault. (Surely, you didn’t think the “problem” was exclusive to young shapely blondes with big boobs and long legs. Surely, you didn’t assume that it was something that only happened to “them” because of the way they dressed or acted. Surely you didn’t, right?) For every #MeToo, there is a human being with a story; a story of pain that needs to be told.

There have been too many #MeToo appearing on my Facebook page. Post after post call out #MeToo. I cull through my memory and wonder…does that time (times) when the president of the company I worked for growled at me when I wore an animal print blouse count? I didn’t feel threatened. I did feel a LITTLE uncomfortable. And, although it was part of one of my favorite summer outfits, I did stop wearing it. Just this summer, having changed jobs (and company), I wore it to work and in the back of my mind thought, “I don’t have to worry about wearing this. No one will care. No one will make me the center of attention for wearing it.”

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Does the time when I was young, naive (stupid?) and perhaps longing for some attention, where I stayed in a relationship where I allowed myself to be manipulated count? The times when someone else built themself up by pulling me down. Is that a #MeToo moment?

How about the time when was a young girl and a man exposed himself to me in one of the toy aisles at Sears? I ran away, but then went back and tried to find him because, in my sophisticated young mind, I thought he might not be aware that his private part was hanging out and wanted to let him know that he should “put it away.” I didn’t find him…he had disappeared. It’s a memory that is so faint that for the longest time I questioned myself as to if it ever really happened.

These incidents, whether they be considered #MeToo or not, do not define me. They are less painful than the taunts of a bullying male classmate in elementary school who mocked me all winter long when I wore an orange parka. (Could that be a #MeToo moment? Perhaps it does explain my general aversion to the color orange.)

The fact that the #MeToo “movement” happened during the month of October, which happens to be National Bullying Prevention Month, is no surprise. Not to diminish either issue, but the root of both in my mind is the same: lack of RESPECT. Bullies, harassers, those who assault do so to build themselves up by tearing someone else down. Not only do they lack respect for their chosen victim, but they have no respect for humanity or even themselves. (This is not meant as a “pity party” for the aggressor.) So while we fight to prevent bullying and to stop #MeToo from happening to another woman (or man), it’s time to TEACH respect. It’s time to LEARN respect. It’s time to ACT with respect. It’s time to SHOW respect. It’s time to BE respectful. It’s time LIVE with respect for ALL.

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We ALL acknowledge this is NOT OK. If we, as a human race, are able to do this AND have the courage to stand and call out bullying, assault and harassment then maybe there will be no more #MeToo.

Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than four years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.

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