‘Harassment’ is something that has been pervasive in all its forms yet something that we aren’t much vocal about. It happens in the workplace, it happens in families, it happens in public spaces and it happens all over the world with consequences extending from mild unease to severe depression. Yet we don’t talk about it, maybe it’s the shame or maybe as women we have grown too used to it; it’s too normal to be mentioned.
But now, the normality associated with being harassed has been broken. You would be living under a rock if you don’t know about the #MeToo campaign which has become a rallying cry against sexual harassment. It started when actress Alyssa Milano following the countless allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein twittered, ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem’ and so they have.
The response to this appeal has been tremendous and this actually gives us a sense of how many women have been keeping their horrifying stories to themselves. Even in a patriarchal society like ours, where women are asked to stay quiet and constantly reminded that they aren’t as strong as men, the hashtag wave has taken over and stories have been pouring all over the social media.
The feeling that you are not the only one and there are people who have been through what you have gives you the strength to post something that you typed and deleted a countless times before.
Another reason why we haven’t been able to come out and accuse the harassers might be that we don’t really understand what behaviors actually constitute sexual harassment. If a guy repeatedly keeps brushing his thighs against mine in a public bus, is that a sexual harassment? If my teacher deliberately keeps touching me, patting me is that a sexual harassment? If my supervisor tries to engage me in conversations that I am uncomfortable with, passes obscene remarks, tells sexual jokes that I don’t know how to react to, is that a sexual harassment? The answer is YES, yes, it is sexual harassment. It is great that the #MeToo wave has taken over the social media but it shouldn’t be just that, a wave that returns the same way it had come. Women and men alike need to realize that there is no shame in admitting what had happened, in accusing the ones who did it to you.