This past weekend, you may have noticed two words trending on your social media: Me Too. There's a lot to unpack here, so let's start a few pages back.
A few weeks ago, Hollywood Mogul Harvey Weinstein (of the enormous Weinstein Company) was accused of more than a dozen counts of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It quickly became apparent that his devious behavior was a well-know secret. More and more women came out and told their stories of inappropriate comments, non-consensual touching, and rape.
Since then, Mr. Weinstein has been fired, lost his role in the Academy of Motion Pictures, and faces numerous legal charges. He has fled to Europe for "rehabilitation."
What transpired in the heat of these accusations--namely, the tone-deaf response of many in the media, politicians, and about 50% of the human population--led to new social media movements. There was the #WomenBoycottTwitter in response to the baffling suspension of Rose McGowan. There was a flood of new stories from female and male actors relating their experiences. And, most recently, there was the "Me Too" hash tag.
To sum up simply, anyone who posted "me too" has also experienced sexual harassment and/or assault.
I can't properly express the shame and anger I felt seeing that phrase pop up again and again. My friends. My family. My coworkers. Each time was a slap in the face. Not just because "I have a sister, a wife, a mother," but because I'm a human being and I feel empathy. Because I have been complicit in a culture that allowed this to happen. Because I have harassed, and because--me too--I've been harassed.
Now, my story is no different than millions of others out there. More importantly, my story pales in comparison to any woman's by a factor of infinite. I've never walked to my car clutching my keys like a weapon. I didn't constantly worried that my boss might grope me.
But I've said and heard the same terrible jokes. I've lost friends because I acted like a high-schooler well into my 20s. I've ignored it when my bosses and coworkers made inappropriate comments or shared inappropriate videos at work. I've questioned the validity of complaints against people I admire.
Like most men, I've always considered myself on the right side of this issue. I think now that's only because I never gave this the consideration it deserved.
This weekend should feel like a gut punch to each and every person on the planet. It is 2017, and we're still behaving like cavemen. We should all feel complicit in the most heinous of crimes, and it's time we owned up.
No, being raised "in a different time" doesn't excuse your behavior. No, "they were dressed like such and such" doesn't excuse your behavior. No, "I had too much to drink" doesn't excuse your behavior.
We, as fellow human beings, have failed each other. I know I have failed in the past. But I also know how I will be better in the future.
Now, if your name is Harvey Weinstein, or Brock Turner, Martin Shkreli, you can go ahead and get fucked. Okay? You've lost your privileges as a person. Get fucked all the way, you piece of garbage. You've ruined this world for the rest of us.
With that out of the way, what's next? What can we do to better our society? To better ourselves?
Well, I'm not nearly qualified to say that. I'm no psychologist, sociologist, or gastroenterologist. I have no formal training that would prepare me to tackle this destructive issue. What I can do is tell you my intentions.
First and foremost, I intend to stand aside. I'm not "letting" my sister, my wife, or my friends take the stage. They took the stage, and I'm following their lead. I'm going to always listen, and more importantly, I'm going to always believe. I'm going to amplify the messages in any way I can. I'm going to stop harassment when I see or hear it.
I'm going to be accountable, and I'm going to demand accountability.
Change is hard. It's crazy, mind-bogglingly hard. But right now, change is exactly what we need. This is toxic, and it will destroy our society as quickly and efficiently as any weapon.
So when you see this phrase trending, ask yourself: Have I ever been a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment? Have I ever been a party to objectification? Have I ever treated someone as a prop or conquest rather than an individual? Have I failed to treat others the way I wish I would be treated?
And, quite frankly, you are lying if you don't think: Me too.