If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.—Matthew Arnold
It would be easy to see the stories of people being charged and convicted of crimes as a result of #MeToo and breathe a satisfied sigh that the movement has done its job, that the world is a safer place because some victims were able to connect the dots, connect with each other, and stand up for their right to be treated like valuable human beings. Lesson learned, awareness raised. Let’s dust off our hands and let #MeToo join the ranks of hashtags past alongside #IceBucketChallenge.
It might also be easy to see #MeToo descending into a witchhunt. If what #MeToo delivers is only (or even mostly) a platform for pointing out offenses that have occurred, it is true that it would not be hard to abuse it. Inertia (or the vast, as yet unplumbed scope of a real problem) could take us to some dark places.
But I don’t think we’ve seen the real end results of #MeToo yet. What happened wasn’t just a moment in time where women felt enabled to speak out. It wasn’t even just a recognition of the pervasiveness of the problem of sexual assault and abuse. #MeToo was the worldwide, public confirmation of our instincts.
For most women, #MeToo wasn’t a revelation. It was a validation of that quiet voice that not only said, “This isn’t right,” but also, “I bet I’m not the only one.” We’ve suppressed it for a long time, because if that voice is right… oh, the implications. There are times when I hear my intuition and ignore it because to believe it means that my world will be turned upside down. I deny it because, if I don’t, it means I’ve spent my life in a fog of lies. Sometimes it feels easier to stay in the fog… We are built for love. We will take whatever excuse we can find to not tear apart our world with our own hands, even if silence comes at the price of our rights and our dignity.
#MeToo tells us that our instincts are right. It makes that small voice inside us impossible to ignore. Look carefully, and you’ll see that women everywhere are starting to listen to our inner voices when they tell us something isn’t right. Watch, and you’ll see us following our own stories instead of the ones we’ve been told. We are starting to confirm our instincts. Again and again, stronger and more confident every time. #MeToo has given the world cause to believe us. But more than that, it has helped us believe ourselves. And believing ourselves is just the beginning.