I spent all of yesterday at the Galaxaar Pop Culture Marketplace vending as Books & Chains, so it wasn’t until I arrived home in the evening that I logged into social media to see the #MeToo posts by so many of my friends and fellow authors, be they men, women, non-binary, or transitioning.
When I woke up this morning and the posts continued to scroll across my screen, I wished nothing more than to type out some greatly profound post about the topic because #MeToo, but I couldn’t. Despite being a survivor myself and having done charity work for RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), the words have been lost to me today.
Perhaps it is the knowledge that this sudden awareness doesn’t change the systemic problem in our society, one that has led to male toxicity, rape culture, and a severe lack of body autonomy. Or perhaps it is the fact that one of the kings of sexual harassment sits in the highest position in our country. Part of me fears that in a few days, the next crisis will hit social media and people will return to ignoring the constant abuse that occurs towards women on a daily basis. My hope is that it won’t disappear and fade into the background as so many things do.
For once, the sheer numbers have been given a voice. Perhaps our refusal to remain silent will be what catapults us into a better place–one where I don’t have to cross the street to avoid walking past a man, or where a friend doesn’t have to set men’s work boots outside her front door. A world where it’s not assumed I’m “the sub” because “women can’t teach computers,” or a world where nighttime is never the time to be alone. Ever.
I could list out all the times I’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted. I could share all the millions of stories from across various social media platforms that detail the horrors women face just to exist in this world, but I don’t think I need to.
The past twenty-four hours has already opened eyes with regards to how many people can say #MeToo. Far too many. Every 98 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. And for once, I think people may have realized it how prevalent it is. But until we teach children about body autonomy and emotional intelligence, we will continue to see the sexual harassment and assault viewed as “locker room talk” or “a joke.”
I am so proud of every person who shared something, even a simple #MeToo, and raised awareness about the sheer number of people impacted by sexual harassment and assault. I am equally proud of those of you who, for whatever reason, choose to remained silent. That is your right.
Be they men or women or non-binary or non-conforming, the only way we get through this is together. We can’t change this deeply rooted problem overnight any more than we can snuff out racism in a moment, but this is a start. Here and now. If you are able, speak up. Speak out.