March 28, 2023

#metoo and isolation.

by Molly Mair

Social activist and community organizer, Tarana Burke, began using Me Too in 2006 on her MySpace account. At noon on October 15, 2016, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted #metoo. By the end of the day #metoo was used more that 200,000 times and by the next day tweeted more than 500,000 times. #metoo went viral within 24 hours. Talk about replicability.

Image via Wikimedia Commons and Twitter

What does using #metoo mean?

For me, it means stepping out of the isolation of abuse and harassment. When I posted #metoo on FaceBook, I had a flurry of emotions. What would people think of me, my weak links, my future employers, my male friends? My nerves caused me paused. What was I intending with this post?

It was a loaded question.

As a woman in our American culture, I am astutely aware of how I present myself. I worked in many a bar during undergrad and knew how to up-sell drinks with a coy attitude. We all know the game, the drinkers and the bartenders. And there were many insinuations, comments, and proposals. But that wasn’t what I was posting #metoo about.

In high school, there had been one night of drinking that I wish I could go back and tell my young self to GO HOME. It was bad, not the worst, but bad. But I wasn’t #metoo-ing about that either.

When I worked as a classroom assistant, I was sexually harassed for nine months by the teacher I assisted. At first, I thought I could just avoid his comments and let it roll off. It continued. I started to keep a log and notes. I asked him to not speak to me like that. It continued. I didn’t tell the principal because this was a VERY small school and the teacher and principal were VERY good friends. I didn’t tell other teachers because everyone “loved” this teacher. My final incident, this teacher stood in front of our class of 10th grade students and showed the females of the group how to squat to pee to “build their muscles to take their boyfriend’s heads off,” I had enough. I had endured his harassment but now these young people were also his victims.

I filed a complaint with the principal, shared my log, asked to not work for this teacher anymore. I stayed at the school, bargained for health insurance, and was completely ostracized.

The isolation I felt was surprising. It made me question myself. I felt ashamed, alone, and like a trouble maker. I wondered if I overreacted, blew it all out of proportion. I questioned if I had asked for it in some way. I wanted to quit my job. Leave that school and not look back.

I didn’t leave. I earned my teaching degree. I stood in the fire. I wanted to be strong for those girls in that class. I wanted to be strong for me.

That’s why I posted #metoo.

In isolation, we can lose our power. There is a collective trauma that has surfaced in light of the #metoo movement. The World Health Organization reports one in three women has experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence. These abuses have been occurring for generations. Social media is a platform for people to share their experience and find a way out of isolation. Social media has been the catalyst to challenge long held assumptions about sexual abuse, our collective trauma, and what does consent look/sound like. This movement is about change.

To create a new norm, there must first be disruption. #metoo may be that disruption.

This blog is written with respect to the women who have bravely told their story in spite of the storm. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Anita Hill, Monica Lewinsky, and the many, many others who stand in the fire. Thank you.

Find me on Twitter @mollymairbroker and Instagram @molly_mair_broker

8 thoughts on “#metoo and isolation.

  1. I appreciate you sharing your story; it sounds all too familiar to me. I think the #metoo movement has shown the world that this isn’t an isolated problem; people (especially women) experience sexual harassment constantly – and much of it shaken off as jokes. I bet when (if) the principle questioned the teacher you assisted, he laughed it off as him joking around. Even though it’s hard, women sharing their stories of sexual harassment brings light to the problem for people who don’t really understand what it’s like for random guys grab your waist as they’re weaving through a bar or for a stranger to tell you to smile.

  2. I truly believe that this movement has allowed countless women who felt alone and isolated as you described in your own personal experience to feel empowered in numbers. As you stated in the beginning of your post, replicability plays a major role in this. I was most surprised to learn that #metoo originated ten years prior but only needed 24 hours to spread at an unbelievable magnitude. Thank you, Molly, for continuing the conversation and telling your story. Not all of us have that strength.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sorry that you had to experience that isolation afterwards. It shows strength to keep going and keep showing that standing up, even when you’re alone, is the only way to create change. I have my qualms with social media, but it’s undeniable that it’s given us an opportunity to speak up to a bigger audience and share truth. Keep being strong!

  4. I loved reading this post. Although I have not found myself in a similar situation, i felt that this post was very relatable. Thank you for sharing! I am very supportive of the #metoo movement, I think it gives women a platform to speak their truth, without having to share too much if they are not comfortable.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! I think that it was courageous of you to stand up to that teacher, even though it was not handled properly by the school. I’m sorry you had to go through any of that. Unfortunately as we saw from the #metoo movement, many women struggle with experiences like this. I think the #metoo movement showed that women everywhere have been affected, and it’s time to bring attention to this issue and make a change!

  6. Molly, thank you so much for sharing your story. Your courage and bravery in enduring that situation is astounding. I think #metoo has and will continue to rock society. It’s so important for everyone to feel safe and respected in all of the social spheres they occupy. What a powerful post!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story. The fact that this issue was isolated and condemned to the sphere of deviance for so long just shows how oblivious our society can be and has been throughout history. This issue has been relevant since the beginning of human history and I am so happy that social media and women have found a platform to feel empowered to share their stories and move this issue from deviance to debate.

  8. Molly,
    Thank you for so beautifully sharing this story about a difficult time from your past. The Me Too movement has done amazing things for individuals who have been affected by sexual assault and felt isolation in light of their statements. I think that with social media, there is a platform to help individuals feel supported and cared for. I recently took a Gender, Media, and Diversity class last term and we spent an entire week talking about the Me Too movement, and the way that the powerful social media tools have allowed for opportunity and safety. The course was taught by Dr. Soderlund and I would recommend it if you have any room in your upcoming course schedule. Thank you again for sharing your story!

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