It has taken me a little while to get why the media has been so interested in the catalogue of Harvey Weinstein's alleged assaults on women in the film industry. But as the number of accusers are rising, and the details of the alleged incidents are emerging, I am beginning to catch up and get on board with a little of the rage and anger about this man.
But it is the #MeToo campaign that has really brought it home. On social media, people are using the hashtag to signal that they have suffered sexual harrassment, whether that is catcalling, assault or rape. They might be giving the details of what they have been through, or it might simply be the words #MeToo, but the hashtag is trendings as 100,000's of people, men and woman, join the campaign.
And over the last 24 hours, on facebook I have seen my friends and collagues, old and young, posting #MeToo. Each one set off a shock through my body, a little bell of sadness rings in my mind, as the growing network of people that I know and love, people who are part of my life in a major or minor way, bravely reveal the harrassment and assaults that are blighting our social interactions and any chance of talking about equality.
I posted a #MeToo too. Actually, plural incidents...but what I was most shocked about is that I have not really considered them for what they were: one a minor assault and one a major assault that I was lucky to have escaped from before serious harm. If I had realised what they were and acted on that, both men would have been arrested and have criminal records, if they had managed to be charged with what they had done, a possibility that is far from guarenteed in our legal system. This is why I didn't understand why the news of Harvey Weinstein was such a big deal - I had allowed the reality of harrassment to be considered normal.
The issue is not about hashtags and news media coverage, it is about confidence in our right to live without fear. When one gender, or sexuality, or colour, or race has less power, then violence and fear fills the vacuum that it leave behind, and those victimised by the powerful are in danger of normalising the situation rather than acting to change it.
So let #MeToo trend, but let it lead to more calling out and standing up to inequality, so that slowly we might evolve towards systems that echo St. Paul's teaching that in Christ all are one.