#MeToo is Rhetorical, Isn't It?

Photo from cbc.ca

Photo from cbc.ca

If you've been on Facebook or Twitter the past few days you've seen #metoo. This hashtag was started Sunday afternoon by actress Alyssa Milano who used her Twitter account to encourage women who’d been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo. In 24 hours, Twitter reported the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times. And that was yesterday. It's growing by the day.

The power of #metoo is that it takes something that women have historically shouldered themselves and lays it out there for the world to see. To put a spotlight on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society. To get women to raise their hands that "yes, HELLO, this happens ALL THE TIME" and to let men know that they still have A LOT of work to do. (Here's some help with that from yours truly.)

But to me, #metoo isn't just about assault and harassment. Not all of us have been sexually assaulted (even though it happens to a whopping 1 in 6 women, according to rainn.org; present company included), or have experienced the kind of overt sexual harassment like the abuse perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, but I can bet you a million bucks we've all felt terrorized, intimidated and/or belittled by a man at least once in our lives. And by 'once' I mean 'a thousand times.'

So this social media moment is for all of us. #metoo is almost rhetorical. It's a given. It's impossible to be a woman in any corner of the world and not have some experience - whether it's past, present or future - that has to do with overcoming or preventing abuse of some kind. When you are talking about harassment, assault, discrimination, misogyny - it is pervasive in our lives. And not just in the workplace.

Here’s what I mean:

Any time you walk down the street and a random guy gives you a creepy stare or catcall #metoo
Any time you have to go out of your way or change your routine to avoid those creepos #metoo
Any time you walk back to your car at night with your keys gripped in your hand like a shiv #metoo
Any time you park in a parking garage and feel queasy about it #metoo
Any time you think to yourself on a date or looking at a house or in a car or in an elevator: "this guy could kill me right now" #metoo
Any time you are at a bar and you need to go to the rest room and have to bring your drink with you so no one touches it #metoo
Any time you are touched when you don’t want to be touched #metoo
Any time you got too drunk at a party and worried about getting home safe #metoo
Any time you are called honey or sweetheart or toots and it makes your skin crawl #metoo
Any time you are withheld a promotion, a job, an opportunity or a perk because you won’t give a man attention, validation or give in to his advances #metoo

Can you relate? #MeToo

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