This week I had a very silly evening. My friend has bought a beautiful Mini Cooper convertible, so as Hurricane Ophelia hit Manchester, we decided to go for a drive around with the top-down listening to Spice Girls! After the often intense past few months of being very responsible and adjusting to a new-born, this was a refreshing burst of joy!
Yet, one thing we spoke about has stayed with me. We met with another friend, three women in their late twenties pretending to be teens again! We started to talk about the #MeToo campaign.
I was saying that I see that it is powerful but wasn’t sure that it would be right for me to write #MeToo. They agreed and we were confused about it. Do you write ‘Me Too’ to represent all those who have been wrongly hurt or do you only write it if you’ve had something happen to you? It felt wrong to write ‘Me Too’ if you’ve not had something ‘serious’ happen, as I’d never want to belittle others experience.
We then went on to speak about things that have happened. About how I wouldn’t write ‘Me Too’, although obviously whenever we used to go to a club you’d always get the creepy men staring at you, the bum grab as you walk by and your not sure which man did it when you turn around. We spoke about times walking down the street when we’ve been jeered/beeped (I used to hate that as I would jump and then be annoyed by the laughter due to my reaction). We spoke about how it didn’t change once we had our boyfriends (now husbands) come out with us, but they would notice it more than we would- and still do! They get annoyed and block us in because it can be intimidating even when they see a man with you. There’s even been times I’ve worried things might get nasty.
I remember being about 14yrs old and walking to the sweet shop with my friend, when a car slid up alongside us with two men in. They rolled the window down and asked us to get in. We said no thank you. The passenger put his legs up on the dashboard and thrust forward and back saying, “Yes, Yes, Get In”. I was trying to stay so far from the car that I was inadvertently pushing my friend in the bushes. We pretended we were walking to a friend’s house so went down a little road, then went back to the main road thinking they’d have gone. Back at the main road they spotted us and became angry saying, “You lied to us. We knew you lied!” Thankfully someone was walking towards us so the car drove off fast. I was so scared when they left, that I realised I had wet myself. We didn’t get any sweets…we went home.
As we were speaking and giving examples of things in our lives and that of our friends- then we realised- this is the point! We feel we shouldn’t write ‘Me Too’ because some women sadly have had far worse things happen to them. Yet that doesn’t mean we belittle them in adding ‘Me Too’, it means we stand with them. We say that it is not ok-at ANY level.
I heard a great interview with Emma Thompson speaking about Harvey Weinstein and the interviewer asks if other men in the industry do it, she replied “yes absolutely”- the interviewer then asked “to that degree?”
Emma: “Maybe not to that degree, do they have to all be as bad as him to make it count? Does it only count if you really have done it to loads and loads of women? Or does it count if you do it to one woman. Once. I think the latter”
In the same way, for one man to have once touched me without my consent is not ok. We may have become so used to it, and it is ‘what you expect’ as part of a night out, but it is really not OK! I do not want that to be my daughter’s experience. I want my son to grow up learning to respect women, their bodies, minds and hearts.
I think a lot needs to change in our society for that to happen. I also want to honour all the men in my life who wouldn’t dream of doing this, who love and respect, support and encourage women.
Yet it doesn’t need to be the most extreme case for it to ‘count’. I have worked with women and have close friends who have been through awful experiences. I stand with them, and the countless women sharing their stories across social media- to say a change needs to come. We were created for more.