On Veteran’s Day this week, my ex-wife posted a photo of her current husband back when he was in uniform. She gave thanks to his service to our country.
Then she added a thank you to others who served in the military and named some of her friends. She included me in that statement; while I appreciate the gesture, I cannot accept such praise.
I had an uncle who served in the Korean War and a father who served in the Vietnam War. I might have served in the first Gulf War myself, except for an injury.
I went through basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. But, near the end I hurt my foot. I was unable to do anything during advanced infantry training. I found out I had damaged a ligament in my left arch and was sent home just 10 weeks into my military career.
Yes, I had some time in the military, but 10 weeks of training does not compare to a two-year service much less combat duty. Lumping me in with those who did more is practically an insult to what they gave our nation.
Why do I bring that up? Because I feel the same way about how the #metoo movement has been watered down.
If you aren’t familiar with the idea, #metoo is something that has been going around social media the past few weeks as a way to raise awareness of the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in this country.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center states that one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives. The same one in five stat holds true for the percentage of women raped while in college.
Sometimes these kinds of stats fall on deaf ears because the person hearing or reading the information doesn’t know anyone who has been personally affected.
The idea on social media was to allow women to speak up and let themselves be counted. Putting #metoo on their Twitter or Facebook accounts who let people see that they really do know people who have been victims of rape and sexual assault.
Unfortunately, I knew of some women who had been attacked without the need of any hashtag. I spoke to one of them about the movement. She said she wouldn’t be using #metoo because what happened wasn’t anyone else’s business, and she didn’t want some busybodies knowing about one of the worst days of her life.
Others seemed very willing to stand up and be heard. In fact, too many in my opinion.
The hashtag was meant to bring awareness of rape and sexual assault, but before long I was seeing examples of women using this for lesser things.
Without naming names, let’s say that a woman was using the hashtag to complain that she had a boss who propositioned her for sex. True, using one’s position in a company to try to coerce someone into sex is quite wrong. Still, that’s not the same thing as rape.
Another complained about being a waitress and having men pinch her or slap her on the butt. Absolutely, this is unwanted contact and inappropriate, whether in the workplace or walking down the sidewalk. Still, this isn’t the same as some sicko holding a woman down and ripping her clothing off.
It is a sad statement, but #metoo is being watered down by the “me too” generation.
So many people want to be independent and unique; and yet at the same time, people want to find someplace where they feel like they belong.
Social media has been helpful in allowing like-minded people to connect no matter the distance between them.
Some of my friends swap arts and crafts ideas on Instagram and Pinterest. Some folks share photos of food and recipes all over Facebook. I myself belong to a guitar swap page that has more than 4,000 members.
Still, this is not the time to wave that flag above one’s head and call out, “Me too, me too!”
If some guy copped a feel of your breast at a night club, I hope you kneed him in the groin. But unless he followed you out into the parking lot and escalated things, what happened to you doesn’t compare to what other women have experienced.
It would be like me trying to compare 10 weeks in training to a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Is sexual harassment okay? Certainly not. No more than childhood bullying is okay. But even in that case, there is a difference between a bully knocking a school book from a child’s hands and a bully pummeling a boy in the bathroom.
If those who are angered by sexual harassment want to get the word out on social media, then by all means, feel free to do so.
Just use a different hashtag. This one’s taken.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.