I was having a conversation with a dear friend over coffee and we were talking about the watershed moment of the autumn: the #MeToo movement, in which women and men have spoken out about their experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
People are paying attention for a number of reasons. When millions updated their social media status to #MeToo, it became impossible to ignore that this kind of behavior is pervasive.
I think another reason #MeToo was possible in 2017 whereas it wasn’t, say, twenty years ago is that technology has changed the way we communicate. It cuts across a number of social constructs to create a forum for voices that would otherwise have been silenced. Those who have the courage to speak out have access to social networks, hashtags and online communities where it’s possible to discuss their experiences and find support.
The influence of the celebrities who came forward rendered the topic of sexual harassment and assault less taboo. People found the courage to discuss experiences they’d once kept hidden and, in sharing them, found a sense of freedom.
After many decades spent discussing the radical concept that women and men are equal, there has been a cultural shift and a critical mass of men have come to recognize and accept gender equality.
Many people have also evolved with regard to how they perceive homosexuality. So the stars were aligned when actor Anthony Rapp came forward about his experiences with Kevin Spacey. Rapp’s human rights were self-evident and he was not silenced nor was he marginalized.
For all of these reasons, we have seen an unexpected turn of events and a number of those who have abused their power have had to face consequences. Shockingly, power and privilege did not make them exempt. Reputations and jobs have been lost because both men and women are sending the signal that it’s not okay to walk all over people.
In my more optimistic moments, I’d like to believe that this is the end of an era, that rape culture will become a thing of the past.
However, when I suggested this, my friend rolled their eyes at me and recited the following poem from William Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’:
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey nonny, nonny.
Below is a graphic of the text made by me. Feel free to use it on your social media and remember to credit your source i.e. image: manya.se