Last night I was saddened as woman after woman throughout my online social networks started updating their status to the hashtag #MeToo indicating that they have experienced sexual harassment, abuse or assault. But since the medal honoring the sexual assault survivor is THE most ordered XIZOZU™, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal that launched this most recent bout of anger and aguish is ripe with celebrity—entertainment gossip fuel—so it gets a lot of attention. We should be, and are, glad for that. What we need to remember though is that the Weinstein approach to career advancement and professional survival is something that goes on in boardrooms in Sacramento, in professors’ offices in Iowa, and in capitol buildings worldwide. It’s everywhere. Perpetrated by nobodies. Hollywood Harvey’s not unique. This type of abuse is systemic, not assigned to any one industry or cultural community but rather to our society as a whole. This is what women face regularly as part of our daily lives. Learning how to circumnavigate harassment and abuse in professional situations is a skill some begin honing as early as elementary school. It’s as fundamental and as frequently used as shoe-tying.
How will I get out of this? Is often a vague almost unformed thought rolling around the back of the female mind as we enter stairways and elevators, crowded clubs and, yes, closed door executive offices. Rather than continuing to sharpen our defensive maneuvering skills, we need to be standing up. Shouting back. Flinging open the doors everywhere it happens.
Stand up! Fight back!
And we are! And we will. Good on us!
But some women won’t. Some forever won’t. Some women, when forced, are going to make the choice that she thinks best protects her family. It’s easy to roar for resistance until you’re that mother. The mother who desperately needs your job for your family to live, and that source of your existence is being threatened by some middle-aged guy who wants you to blow him. Or worse. Imagine being that woman.
I’m not going to, on top of everything else, yell at her. Are you?
#SheToo is who #WeToo are fighting for.
But I’m all for beating the crap out of him.
This list is for her. And friends of her, which means it’s for you.
It’s a list of 8 suggestions for what to do and what not to do when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted—compiled from women who’ve gone through sexual abuse and also trauma experts.