#MeToo Is Important Now More Than Ever

Why can’t women be taken seriously when we talk about the times we have been touched, groped, or ogled by strange men?

This year, on International Women’s Day, my friends and I all celebrated (intentionally or unintentionally) in our own ways – some went out to concerts or bars, others went to the movies, and others decided to have a night in.

When one of my friends was out at a concert, she unfortunately dealt with a situation too many women are familiar with: a male high school acquaintance had repeatedly touched her without consent throughout the night. The next morning, she told the story in our group text.

As a collective group, we commiserated and told her how crappy it is that she experienced that. Because that’s exactly what it is: crappy. And because it isn’t the first time it has happened to any of us.

We exchanged stories about the men in our lives and how we each understood what she was going through. She explained that a mutual male friend that night had stood up for her when she couldn’t get the first man to leave her alone, and we marveled together at the rarity of such camaraderie. Each of us has rarely had another man do the same for us.

“I’m the first person to call someone out, but what am I going to do?” She, wishing to remain anonymous, said. “This dude is kind of a friend, I’m in a loud area, I lost my voice [while at the concert], and I’m surrounded by strangers.”

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: we do not want or need men to stand up for us. We are perfectly capable of standing up for ourselves in any situation and have been doing so practically our entire lives. But in this instance, it was nice to have the support.

At the end of the day, this is about being a true ally. Let me speak directly to the male population when I say that it is not enough to say that you respect women or that you believe in equal rights. You have to walk the walk.

This doesn’t mean speaking for every woman you see. We can handle ourselves just fine without you. It does mean that you can be supportive and speak out and ask a woman if she’d like some assistance – and then respect whatever answer she gives you. If she doesn’t want help, don’t continue to badger her or help her anyway. She said what she said for a reason. If she does want help, great! Please feel free to help her in the ways she has asked you to.

So many times in my own life when I have experienced harassment in public, men have told me that I’m “overreacting” or that “it was probably an accident” or that I “need to calm down.”

This is why the #MeToo movement is necessary. This is why feminism is necessary. Women have experienced this kind of treatment for much, much longer than just the past few decades. No, this has been going on for millennia.

Still, we are persecuted when we come forward. Still, we are told that we are overreacting or that we are being too emotional about it.

If you don’t yet understand the gravity of the situation, you are not paying close enough attention.

I am not the first person to write about this and I will not be the last. That alone should be evidence enough that this is an epidemic.

“What makes me mad is that I purposefully try to come across as a b*tch and as intimidating so this doesn’t happen to me,” she said. “I think with a lot of survivors the stigma is that they just let anything happen to them and they should have stood up for themselves. I am in no way shy, weak, or fragile, yet I’m still a target and have been a target on over 5 occasions now.”

Through writing this, I am not asking for attention, asking for apologies, or, quite frankly, asking for comment. One of my best friends wanted to have a fun night out and instead had to deal some random jerk deciding he gets to touch her body without her permission. She got pissed, someone stood up for her, and they moved on with their night. But she shouldn’t have to. It never should have happened to begin with.

Enough is freaking enough. Be an ally. Understand why feminism is necessary. And for goodness’s sake, start listening to women. ALL womxn. Don’t doubt their integrity when they finally decide to tell you their story.