Robert, here’s something else to consider that I hope will affect your perception that the #MeToo movement is vindictive. Girls start getting harassed in public at a young age, usually by around 12 but almost certainly by 17. Harassment includes not just catcalling, but groping and being followed by harassers. Catcalling is not just demeaning and upsetting but literally instills fear — is it just words or is he going to come after me? There’s been plenty in the news the past few years about women being killed or assaulted for not giving a man her phone number or not otherwise assenting to his “attentions.” This behavior has zero to do with attraction.
“According to a new international study on catcalling, 84 percent of women are harassed on the street before they turn 17. Conducted by Hollaback! — the anti-street-harassment group behind last fall’s viral catcalling PSA — in partnership with Cornell University, it’s the largest study on street harassment to date, surveying over 16,000 women from 21 countries. The findings show that across the globe, the majority of women are catcalled for the first time during puberty — between the ages of 11 and 17. Of the respondents, 50 percent of women reported being groped or fondled in public, and 71 percent said they had been followed by harassers.
“People don’t want to recognize that this starts really young,” Debjani Roy, the deputy director of Hollaback! told the Daily News. “The emotional impact it has as girls develop is quite significant.” On Twitter, people have been sharing their own experiences with the hashtag #firstharassed — revealing that, for many women, sexual harassment starts long before they even reach puberty.”
Girls and women spend their entire lives being constantly traumatized by this kind of nonsense, and the fact that not all men do this is besides the point because pretty much all women experience it. If women are at last finding a voice to speak out against this, it is long, long overdue! In order to move forward as a society we are eventually going to have to move past the stage we are in, but from my perspective it is an entirely appropriate and a needed catharsis. We’ve been told to sit down and shut up about this type of thing our entire collective lives and we are refusing to do so any longer.