Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock these past few weeks, you know the significance of “#MeToo.” And if you are a rock-hider, here’s what it means: Actor Alyssa Milano, one of Harvey Weinstein’s victims, wrote: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘#MeToo’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
Since then millions of women have posted “#MeToo” on their Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram. They are supporting the women who have risked their careers and reputations by speaking publicly about the sexual harassment they experienced from Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly and other famous, powerful men.
Those of us who posted “#MeToo” have kept our own experiences with sexual harassment to ourselves. It is something we would rather forget. What I experienced was nothing as extreme and disgusting as what we’ve been hearing lately, but still I don’t want to think about the several times I was kissed or groped. The men weren’t necessarily my bosses, though some of them were. Some of them were just guys who thought it was their right to corner me at the copy machine. Those men should have been embarrassed but they weren’t. They saw a young (and later not-so-young) co-worker who wouldn’t want to cause a scene because she was surprised, embarrassed and besides, she was nice. Lord, was I nice. They were sure I would keep my mouth shut and I did.
There was only one time that I confronted one of my bosses. He slapped me on my butt with a file as he left the office one day. I fretted about it overnight and the next day told him I did not want him doing that again. His response: he denied it. It was just the two of us in the office—his word against mine. I was astounded. He implied that it was all a fantasy of mine. Two weeks later I was laid off due to “lack of work.”
I don’t know how much change the public attention to “#MeToo” will bring. Most women don’t have the fame or money to bring lawsuits against their harassers. Change comes slowly but if we teach our children and grandchildren by example to be respectful of others, change will come.