When it's time to say me too
I like to think of myself as a moderate: politically, socially and particularly in social media. I am not a Luddite, nor am I glued to my devices and social media accounts.
And in those digital realms I fancy myself a purist. I use them to keep in contact with friends and family and share the occasional bit of news or thoughts — plus a few photos.
I don't play games. I seldom 'like' things, or dislike them for that matter. I don't wish people happy birthday (not sure what that's about; I guess I don't like to be told what to do), I don't post photos of my dinner and I try to avoid those silly "What historical royal figure are you most like?" quizzes — although sometimes those do suck me in before I can defend myself.
In general I don't like knee-jerk social media gimmicks that, in my opinion, people jump all over before they've really given it thought. Don't even get me started about folks who comment on something online before they've read the entire article and all the comments that preceded them.
So when the hashtag #metoo started exploding all over Facebook recently I dismissed it. For those who haven't seen it, the meme spread as a tool to show the world how common sexual harassment and sexual abuse has become in today's society. The idea was when the meme came your way, if you'd been a victim of either you would post #metoo in your online account — and indeed I saw it everywhere for many days in the wake of the exploding news story regarding Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
As the weeks went by and it seemed every day another man in a power position was accused of gross incidents of sexual harassment or abuse — or both — the viral spread of the #metoo meme took off even more.
Still, I was silent.
In fact, somewhere in the middle of it all discussions with friends and coworkers on the topic brought me up short. I shared my concern that the attention the Weinstein case was receiving was going to result in false claims by accusers seeking attention or financial settlements — riding the wave of outrage, so to speak.
I didn't understand the value of the #metoo meme, I went on. "What's the point?" I said. "I mean, who can't say 'me too'?"
Then it hit me. Men. Regarding the commonality of victims of sexual harassment, close to 50 percent of the population would be unlikely to say me too. Because they are male and while not unheard of, harassment of men is much less common.
My supposition — that nearly EVERYONE had experienced sexual harassment — was really because nearly every female I knew had experienced it. I realized that, while not acceptable in any way, I had become jaded and thought of sexual harassment as the price of being female on this planet.
How messed up is that?
And regarding my concern that the volume of high-profile men being called out by female victims was inflated? My Pollyanna balloon was burst by two men I greatly respect, neither one given to hyperbole. Both were surprised MORE accusations weren't being made public yet. The problem is much deeper than we think, they said.
As the decades go by I think about how our world is so much better than it was when I was very young in so many ways. Yet, we obviously have such a long way to go.
And so — #metoo.
Leslie Pugmire Hole is editor of the West Linn Tidings.