In the last week we have seen social media windswept in the #metoo movement, and what its really brought in to focus, in a multitude of different ways, is our varying concepts of visibility.
Women I think were shocked, but no where near as shocked as men. Women for many years, in between conversations over dinner and nights out and lunches, have intimately shared stories of personal experiences of harrassment and sexual violence. I know in detail of mutiple experiences from multiple friends, of varying degrees of violence, and of course shared my stories in turn with them. For those of us more active in the movement, we are aware of organisations that are supporting women and sexual violence, of ending street harrassment and supporting families of victims of those that have died at the hands of male violence. For us, it is almost a broken record, for some of us it was tiring trawling out statistics of how many women are likely to have been sexually assaulted or raped (85,000 a year, approxamately 11 rapes an hour) to disbeleiving ears. We've had these conversations, we've protested, we've made the placards, we've sat on panels, we've screamed and cried and stripped our bodies in public and marched demanding ownership over our bodies, and now, sat behind a computer screen, you now feel safe enough to align yourself to a movement.
We asked ourselves what it would take for men to feel that they could be involved in Feminism. And honestly, the last thing I thought would come up would be Facebook. I'm desperately curious to know, when you saw 'Me Too', I want to know why now? Was it because the girl you dated in high school posted it. Was it because your sister or cousin posted it? Was it because your wife or daughter posted it? Is it because violence against women banged its angry fists on your front door, and you realised the scope of the problem? This has been one of the quietest demonstrations to date. It started and ended in silence, the sound of fingers tapping on a keyboard suddenly echoed across the planet as internationally millions of women, with two words, stood in solidarity with eachother, to explose and implode the idea that sexual violence is a myth of the public domain. Do not forget the women that don't have access to computers. Do not forget the women silenced and caged. Do not forget the women already dead.
Me Too has been an amazing and saddening thing to watch. I've felt something close to greif. It makes me relive my own experiences and things oh no, not you too. Some of the strongest women that I know, and the bravest. Those of us who worry that our 'victimhood' will be used against us threw that title into a blazing fire and stopped measuring eachothers pain. It felt like the cloak of invisbility was lifted off. Was this because of the sheer amount of women who did it? Or the fact that for once, on a mass public scale, it was also recognised by men. Now you have stepped out into the ether, don't you dare think about heading back in. Now you know what is out there join arms, take a stance, and become an active part of the resitance. I quote an article that I read in my early days of feminism 'Once your eyes have been opened, they can't be un-opened' you've seen it now. Let this become part of the ecology of your life.
In whatever strange and modern way, the movement is now visible, lets not also forget the 'Me Too' movement in itself was in fact founded by Tarana Burke over 10 years ago, a Black activist based in the US, to provide 'Empowerment through Empathy', for those that had been victims of assault and violence. It took a white celebrity to post it on social media for it to take off in a matter of hours. 10 years and 60 minutes to gain the exposure she deserved. It took celebrity culture to get grassroots activists and feminists a platform, and thank god organisations like Tarana's exist. Abuse and violence does not start and end with a Facebook post. It is a global epidemic. So let the next 'Me Too' sharing come up be those that have donated to Womens Aid, or have personally donated to their local refuge.
It has happened to me too. It has happened to too many of my friends, my sisters, and the strangers that I love.
Now you have seen us. Don't let us be unseen.
END violence against women.