My mom, too

by Daniel Kelley

My mom’s was the first “Me too” post I read.

mymomtoo.jpeg

 

Since the trend went viral, my collective social feeds have been flooded with friends and followers speaking out against sexual assault by opening up about the crimes and mistreatment they have faced. For men like myself, to see that our mothers, sisters, friends, and partners have faced such suffering is both humbling and disturbing. And that’s the point.

Over the last week I’ve gone back and forth wondering whether the Weinstein scandal is worth talking about. I’m usually the first to complain about the media’s obsession with wasting airtime and page space on meaningless shit. But I’ve realized that this story is not meaningless.

It is not important because of its implications for the entertainment industry, or the executives that abuse their power within it. This issue is not about Hollywood; it is about women.

This issue is important because it has started a conversation, in large part because of the “Me too” trend. And this conversation is important because it is demanding we change how we talk about sexual assault- that we should talk about it more openly.

It is important because it is much a display of solidarity as it is of defiance. I see older women like my mom, who have successfully built themselves, their families and their careers up through an unequal world, signaling to young women still working to claim their space that they are not alone in what my mom calls “the shared experience of being a woman.”

It is important because thousands of women coming out to demonstrate the breadth and magnitude of sexual assault provides our representatives, pundits, and social leaders fewer excuses to ignore it, downplay it, or postpone policy to combat it.

That is the thin but defined silver lining behind any of these scandals: they get people talking about the ugly sides of our society.

Especially now this issue should be kept planted squarely in the mainstream, as the Department of Education led by Betsy DeVos rescinds core Title IX protections, stripping campuses of their ability to hold sex offenders accountable. To combat a silent pandemic like sexual assault requires that the public bear witness to the pervasiveness of sexism in all its forms. This trend has done just that.

My mom faced fear to stand up and disclose what happened to her, as I am certain so many other women did as well. This show of bravery is proof that women fear less the consequences of coming forward. And this change in attitudes is a step toward changing our society.

Before I published this article, I asked her why she posted her own “Me too” online.

“I want people to know how widespread this is,” she said. She did it for my young cousin Clara, age 4, who doesn’t deserve to grow up in a world where she faces the ever-present risk of being the victim of assault. She did it to make peace with her past.

But she also did it to give hope.

“I don’t feel like a victim at all, “ related my mom. “I feel like a survivor.”

We’ve got a better shot at ridding the world of sexual assault and sexism when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of survivors across the United States come forward and raise their voice. There is strength in numbers.