I’ve been passively following the recent #MeToo social media trend for the past couple of weeks. For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, women and men are sharing their personal stories of sexual harassment and assault on social media using the hashtag #MeToo. The goal is to expose the sheer depth and breadth of people impacted by these actions, and hopefully create some cultural awareness that ultimately leads to behavior change on the part of the perpetrators.
The first time I saw a friend post #MeToo on Facebook, it definitely peaked my interest. I quickly Googled “MeToo” to learn the backstory and find out if it was just another silly hashtag being spread, or if it had actual substance. After reading a few articles, I kicked into my “go-to” apathetic mindset (as it relates to social and cultural issues). I’m not saying I’m proud of it, but honestly it’s been exhausting to spend time on Facebook and Twitter over the past year! Dealing with feeds riddled with aggressive arguments about feelings on the election, the economy, immigration, shootings, and now Harvey Weinstein has made me go through an intense whittling process that leaves me with a handful of Golden Retriever video accounts. I care deeply about societal issues, but avoidance and passivity were far less draining options…and far less emotionally risky.
But a few weeks ago something changed.
YouToo Can Get Involved
My husband and I got the privilege to attend an enriching Christian conference that helped us delve into a number of issues that are important to us as believers. We listened to a line-up of renowned speakers, and one woman clearly stood out from the rest. I won’t go into the details of her speech because it’s not relevant to this blog. But her spirit resonated with me on multiple levels. The microwave version (as my husband likes to say) is that she survived Communist Romania in the 1980’s, and lived through multiple beatings and death threats to stand up for what she believes in.
Her speech pushed me to do a lot of self-reflection.
I mean I haven’t lived through even 1% of what she endured! Why was I working so hard to avoid and stay in my comfort zone? Why wasn’t I trying to help positively impact people and in my own way drive culture change?
I decided that I would stop burying my head in the sand and start getting involved by more diligently listening and voicing my stance on issues that impact my faith and my family.
MeToo is Every Woman (and Many Men)
There, I said it. OF COURSE I’ve been sexually harassed and assaulted. What woman hasn’t?
And, over the course of my 23-year professional career, I have experienced a wide range of sexual harassment and assault. What woman in the business world hasn’t?
And honestly, what woman won’t continue to experience it?
From unseemly comments to creepy stares to suggestive scenarios to awkward grabbing, I’ve experienced it all.
I could delve into some heavy and intense stories because I endured and also witnessed some serious low-life actions that no person should EVER have to endure. And these things should not be tolerated or allowed.
And again, I haven’t experienced even 1% of what some women have! It’s a truly pervasive issue that should not be minimized or underemphasized.
So what to do?
TheyToo Have Been Amazing
Fortunately for me, the incidents I just alluded to are not the prevailing narrative of my career.
I’ve had far more men provide positive guidance, mentoring, encouragement, and support than I’ve had men who have sexually harassed or assaulted me.
In fact, I’ve been humbled by the amount of times that men have helped me.
And they are the men that I’ll always remember. They are the professional relationships I genuinely value and appreciate.
So I’d like to flip the #MeToo hashtag on its head. I’m not advocating for the trend to end. I can see that it’s helping a lot of people open up and have conversations that they’ve needed to have. And if it works for them, then I support it for them!
It’s not that #MeToo is the wrong approach. It’s just that it isn’t right for me.
I want to instead use my voice to shine a light on men who have been uplifting and inspirational.
WeToo Can Shine a Bright Light on Goodness
In the next eight weeks, I’m going to make one post per week on my personal LinkedIn profile giving examples of times that men have helped me.
Instead of focusing on men who treated me as less than human, I want to shine a light on men who treated me like a valuable business person. And this is not intended to be INSTEAD OF people posting using the #MeToo hashtag. This is IN ADDITION TO.
I want to add #WeToo to #MeToo.
I want the world to not only see how extensive the issue is—I also want to offer solutions that would help men see how they should be respectfully interacting with women.
And I’ll leave you with this…
- Speak up
- Lift others up
- Stop (or report) people who are or have sexually harassed and/or assaulted others
And join me in shining a bright light on goodness! #WeToo
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