by Neta Meltzer
Communications & Development Coordinator, CCASA
I’ve been reading them all morning. From one article, which offers a link to another, and then another, I’m following the trail of those speaking in support of, and against, the #MeToo Movement. I’m captivated, making mental notes, responding silently to these writers all around the world, each with something to say, a new approach to consider.
Much of the discussion around #MeToo lately seems to reveal an underlying urge to lay out a clear framework, to organize around specific ground rules for what does and doesn’t count as sexual harassment and/or assault, and to silence those voices that are considered, by some, as irrelevant outliers. There are those who want to control the narrative, to dictate just how far the movement should be allowed to go. There are those who, lucky to have never been a victim of sexual harassment or assault, don’t see the urgent need for the movement to remain prominent in our news cycles and conversations. Some, who benefited in various ways from the status quo, would like all of this to evaporate just as quickly as it exploded onto our Newsfeeds.
Even among those of us who identify as feminists, there appears to be a disconnect. We type our opinion pieces and blog posts with urgency, eager to call out those who disagree with our views, those who surely misunderstand the movement itself and what it was meant to accomplish. I find myself wondering if I am guilty of this, too.
But for me, the criticism I’ve offered has been toward those who call for this critical conversation to end. Those of us who work in this field, and those who have been doing this work since long before such terms as sexual harassment even existed, must beg those who would silence #MeToo to reconsider. We’ve been talking about this. Shutting down the conversation when it is finally gaining the public attention it deserves will make for a tragic missed opportunity. Dismissive responses and socially enforced silence are part of what got us to this point in the first place.
The calls for nuance have been heard. Critics of the movement should find comfort in the knowledge that those of us in support of #MeToo are more than able to recognize nuance. We certainly understand that harassment and assault are technically different things. But we must all be prepared to acknowledge that they are also related.
We are in a moment of painful self-reflection, overwhelming confusion, and disconcerting realizations. But that doesn’t mean we should just stop talking about it. Our culture is finally changing. Let’s let it.