In the wake of the revelation that yet another high-powered man used his position to sexually exploit (numerous) women, we see a huge social media-driven response. The concept is simple: Post “Me Too” so the world can see the magnitude of the problem. Use the global reach of social media to show the overwhelming number of women subjected to sexual harassment and violence. Simple posts of “Me Too” exploded throughout social media platforms this week. For many, it was eye-opening to be forced to realize the pervasiveness of this problem in our society. It got men talking to other men about how not to perpetuate these harms. This is not just a problem for women to figure out for themselves. This is not women vs. men. This is a virus that affects our society as a whole. It holds us all back—from reaching the full potential of our businesses and our classrooms that comes from including everyone equally. We should all care about addressing it.
So what will our response be to this outpouring of #metoo? One: We cannot look the other way anymore. Every single #metoo post is an incredible display of bravery. For many, it is the first time they have chosen to tell those in their social media circles about their victimization. It’s like standing in Times Square completely naked. Don’t just scroll past it. Acknowledge these disclosures and offer your support.
Two: Create environments that are free of violence, misogyny, abuses of power, disrespect and inequality. Do this in your school, workplace, public sidewalks, and your home. For every person who posted #metoo, there are many others who have also been victimized but will not share that. As we read these tweets and posts, there are women who are not in a safe enough space to join this conversation. Some will simply choose not to share. Survivors owe no one their narrative nor should they be required to publicly wear that label unless they choose it. We can support their silence by acting to create safe and supportive environments everywhere.
We must move this dialogue to action or it will have been in vain. It only takes small steps to have large impact. Every microenvironment that prioritizes equality contributes to an overall society of equality. Let’s not let #metoo be just a recognition of the numbers affected by sexual harassment and violence. Let’s use it for action.