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My #MeToo dilemma

  • 26 October 2017


I didn't write #metoo on Facebook. I tell myself it's because I don't go in for social media fads.

I'm not one to decorate my profile picture with coloured filters. I don't 'copy and share' status updates. I don't care if you are showing your teenager how fast an image travels around the internet, I'm not going to 'like' it for you. So when #metoo started peppering my news feed, I could cite my history of not buying into things as an excuse to remain silent. Couldn't I?

On Sunday 15 October, actor Alyssa Milano tweeted 'Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harrassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might get a sense of the magnitude of the problem.' Since then, #metoo took on a life of its own. Within 24 hours, there were more than 17,000 retweets. At its peak, #metoo was tweeted four times per second. It has also taken off on Facebook, where I first encountered it.

Though it has only recently become viral, the 'Me Too' movement was founded ten years ago by activist Tarana Burke. Burke calls the movement 'empowerment through empathy'. She regrets that she did not respond in this way to a girl she met on youth camp:

'I was horrified by her words, the emotions welling inside of me ran the gamut, and I listened until I literally could not take it anymore ... Then, right in the middle of her sharing her pain with me, I cut her off and immediately directed her to another female counselor who could "help her better".

'I will never forget the look on her face ... I think about her all of the time. The shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again — it was all on her face ... I could not muster the energy to tell her that I understood ... I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn't even bring myself to whisper ... me too.'

The American Girl Scouts responded to the movement with this chilling tweet: 'If your daughter is 11 or older, chances are she's also saying #metoo when it comes