As the hashtag #MeToo spread through my social media accounts, tying women together with a depressingly familiar thread I couldn’t help but wonder, why?
Not why #MeToo was trending. While the reasons differed a little for each of the participating women I love and respect, they were adding their commentary to an impressive effort aimed at raising awareness and driving the bogeymen out from their respective memories.
It was hard, however, to not wonder why we are still expecting women to raise awareness and identify themselves as victims and survivors rather than asking men who are predators to identify themselves as a problem that needs to be sorted out. Or, at the very least, asking their enablers to get this under control.
It shouldn’t be women’s responsibility to continually point out the prevalence of predatory behaviour.
Women already know it exists. That knowledge is why the 20-something in my office travels around with dog spray in her purse.
Or why women I knew when I was younger double bra’d when they went out with certain people. They were flattening out a target, adding armour.
It’s why I was taught to walk home from elementary school with a key between my fingers. That’s right. This suburban, middle age woman is trained and ready to take out your eyeballs.
People were also aware of what Harvey Weinstein was doing. Clearly I’m about as far from being a Hollywood insider than one can possibly be, but I knew of Weinstein’s history as a predator. It’s been in just about every gossip blog for about a decade.
Closer to home, Jian Ghomeshi’s crap-tastic tendencies made their way to Kelowna via the whisper network years before he publicly transformed from Canada’s boyfriend to Canada’s creep.
And lest we forget, there are countless women who die each year, falling victim to violence at home.
We are aware. We are all aware.
The problem is when something on the spectrum of horrible happens women have been led to believe we should bear the responsibility. Our protective measures failed. We did something wrong. We aren’t getting the joke.
So awareness isn’t enough. We need to move into reality.
It’s time for people who surround those who are creepy or prone to questionable and abusive behaviour, to say it out loud.
It could go like this, “hey friend, when you grabbed that woman’s breast and chortled about it, you undermined her sense of safety and were setting the stage to be a future monster.”
Or, when it’s required: “hey, weirdo. I suspect that you’re a real problem and I’m not going to laugh it off. I’m going to ostracize you and if the time comes, I’m going to report you to the authorities because I know the police believe men more often than they do women.”
I could keep going, but I don’t think there’s a hashtag for that.