It’s been two weeks since Harvey Weinstein‘s alleged decades-long sexual assault and harassment of women became public. His treatment of women reminded us of other high-profile cases like Bill Cosby and Jian Gomeshi, who may no longer be in the news, but they and their actions have never been forgotten. But it’s not just one man, or within one industry. This sh*t happens everywhere. On Sunday, Alyssa Milano asked people to post the phrase “me too” if they’ve ever experienced sexual assault or harassment.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
And the message was heard, loud and clear. People everywhere tweeted or updated their Facebook status with “Me too.” And while it was both inspiring and saddening to see more and more #MeToo posts popping up with each refresh — from friends and family, to celebrities and old classmates — it succeeded in putting the spotlight on a culture that excuses, protects and empowers men to hurt and harass women. But not just women. Girls too.
Actress America Ferrera revealed in a powerful Instagram post on Monday that she was sexually assaulted when she was nine years old. She began her message with “Me too” before sharing her story of what happened when she was a fourth-grader.
“I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9 year old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man.”
Not sure what’s more devastating, that line or the comments to Ferrera’s post from women who were around that age or younger when they were assaulted.
Perhaps all of this has resulted in some uncomfortable recollection on our parts, recalling experiences that have been buried or pushed away, looking deep at things that never quite sat right within. And while these conversations are tough to face, especially if it’s personal, now might be the time for that reflection. Because while #MeToo is there to empower those affected, whether it’s something new you’re still processing or working to recover from, it might also be just the thing to guide the next generation.
All the “MeToo” stories need to be told, but America’s is one that hits parents particularly hard. We must ensure that our kids know they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide, and that they can tell us anything. We need to be there to support them, every step of the way.