THOUGHTS ON: Is #metoo Enough?

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Today's post was penned by my friend Josie, whose anger regarding the Weinstein revelations mirrored my own. I loved being challenged by her piece on the subject and feel very lucky to be sharing it with you today... Over to you Josie.

If your social media news feeds have been anything like mine over the past few weeks, they have suddenly become littered with your friends’ accounts of attacks, groping, catcalling and general piggery by men.

Since the story broke about Harvey Weinstein sexually abusing women, the #metoo campaign has been sweeping social media, encouraging women to share their stories of rape, sexual assault and catcalling.  The idea behind it is that women will share their stories to highlight the fact that sexual assault is an uncomfortably common occurrence.  In fact, if the posts on my Facebook are anything to go by, most women my age (early 20s) have already been the victim of unwanted sexual behaviour. That shocked me, which I suppose is the point of the campaign. And in that sense, the #metoo trend is a good idea.  Anything that raises awareness of a problem is great, right?  

But as I’ve thought more about the #metoo trend, I’ve become more and more uncomfortable with it. 

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the principle behind it, but the way it is being expressed doesn’t sit right with me.  You might have noticed that I referred to using the hashtag as a trend. I really didn’t want to use that word, because it conjures images of loom bands and yo-yos, things that are popular for a few weeks and are then consigned to a box at the bottom of the wardrobe. I didn’t want such an important topic to be trivialised in this way. Yet this is exactly what is happening to the #metoo campaign.  Back in October, every other post on Facebook told a story of assault or catcalling.  It was almost like everyone needed to share their experience with the likes of Weinstein.  Now that we are in November, I scroll through my feeds in vain, unable to find anyone using this hashtag.  Maybe it is just me, but it feels like #metoo has already been put in that box at the bottom of the wardrobe. And that’s a big problem because it means that sexual assault has become another one of those things that we forget about. 

I’ve also struggled to get my head around the fact that #metoo is so public. When the campaign was gaining momentum, I suddenly found myself faced with horrific stories of rape and the like, there for the world to see.  Now I didn’t have a problem with this, but I think others might. I wonder whether a rape victim would be so nonplussed by scrolling through their Facebook feed, only to be confronted with stories that recount what happened to them?  I can’t claim to speak for others, but I doubt it.  The complete lack of consideration for trigger warnings and the like just made me dislike this campaign even more, as it seemed to unwittingly risk hurting the very people it was trying to help.

And while we’re here, can we just take a moment to consider the fact that actually, men and trans people get assaulted too?  I know that the campaign didn’t explicitly exclude them, but I noticed that none of my male friends took part.  I’d like to think that it is because they don’t have a story to share, but sadly I doubt it.  If the #metoo campaign has taught me anything, its that no one is completely safe.  

So, there you have it; will #metoo leave an enduring legacy?  Will the outpouring of stories about sexual assault make us stand up and realise that this is a growing problem in our society? I really hope so, but perhaps by more subtle means.  What do you think?

Thank you to Josie for writing this piece – now we have to convince her to start a blog of her own! Come to the comments to let us know your thoughts on the #metoo campaign...

WellbeingAnna Considine