#MeToo Sounds New, But Has Been With Us A Long Time

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/10/20/metoo-sounds-new-but-has-been-with-us-a-long-time/

Carbon-dating may be required to figure out the gestational cycle of #MeToo, an emerging social-media destination for new and old stories of sexual harassment.  The primordial soup of Harvey Weinstein’s shadowy life spawned conditions with enough atmospheric pressure to deliver an Internet domain where women from around the world are beginning to feel safe enough to share permutations of personal, professional, and institutionalized abuse. 

On Sunday night actress Alyssa Milano launched the social media group, by tweeting (@Alyssa_Milano) “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘#Me Too’ as a reply to this tweet.”  Spontaneous combustion is one way to explain the velocity with which her 3.2 million followers responded to the suggestion.  That hash-tag has morphed into a global support-group,  giving safe haven to life-altering traumas.  The distress symbol, also accessible via Facebook, links some deeply held secrets to a commonality of experiences by women who are not derivatives of one industry, socio-economic class, or ethnicity.

The magnitude of response is helping to calibrate how far-reaching and systemic the problem of abusing women is and has always been. The orbit of this newly formed domain is validating the experiences of women, confirming this situation is not a phenomenon unique to these times.  Even though the collateral damage of predatory behavior has always been visible, the marginalization of women’s concerns have often been shrugged off by saying ‘she’s lying,’ ‘she was asking for it,’ or by dismissing the crisis as another case of  ‘he saidshe said.’

Details of Weinstein’s decades-long debauchery have become a catalytic converter prompting a broad exploration of domestic violence, workplace harassment, and public acceptance of toxic compromises. His lecherous habits represent in microcosm the macro-landscape of an outdated reliance on the definition of a woman’s role in society. It’s been our tradition to lust after lurid details of the “scandal du-jour,” only to moralize particulars from a male’s vantage point “boys will be boys.”

By swapping water-cooler conversations dripping with salacious details of Kennedy, Clinton, Cosby, and their cohort our culture has tacitly accepted passive-aggressive and overt manifestations of the abuse of women.  In many ways these stories have long been our national past-time, creating an industry of tabloid magazines and television shows.  Until now such factual and fabled content was considered entertainment, a far cry from the battlefield of revolutionary social reform. 

Could it be Milano’s tweet was a shot heard round the world, forever wounding the swagger of good-old boy tales of tail?

The demise of Harvey’s Hollywood hustling style produced a revised script tarnishing the meteoric successes that bought silence, and oxygenated shadowy places frequented by shameful men.  Unexpectedly, the Hollywood sisterhood is emboldening women everywhere to reveal old and new stories of consensual, transactional, and forced encounters predicated on sexual vulnerability with implied threats of humiliation and retaliation.

The power of #MeToo as a viral social-media destination stakes claim to a brave new world that includes the DNA of our mothers and greatest-grandmothers who also tousled in an atmosphere of male dominance, and the manifestations of sexual harassment. The domain, open to all, begins a conversation intended to look at the past, articulate personal, professional, and industrialized wounds and revolutionize the future for all of us. 

If you’re wondering if #MeToo applies to a woman you know, just ask one.