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Why I'm Not Joining The #MeToo Hashtag Even Though I Was Sexually Harassed

It's watering down the stories that really deserve to be told.

17/10/2017 10:53 AM AEDT | Updated 17/10/2017 10:53 AM AEDT
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"I don't want my stories to cloud what I perceive as the real horror stories out there; stories told by people who really suffered."

At first, the sight of #MeToo on my social media feed was desperately sad and made me feel quite teary. Not 'Sharon'! She seems so unscathed and perfect. Not sweet 'Helen', oh no. I felt so sad for my dear friends.

But after a while I started to squirm. It seemed like almost every single person I knew (including some men) were posting #MeToo. I started to get somewhat immune to it. I started to dislike myself as I felt more and more uncomfortable.

Why? It was partly due to people posting their stories to accompany the hashtag, by way of explanation. The stories ranged from feeling degraded when a man wolf whistled at her when she was a teenager to another person who told the sheer horror of being raped by her boss.

Two very different stories, same hashtag.

The #MeToo campaign puts the spotlight on the awful fact that seemingly everyone with breath in their body has been sexually harassed at some point in their life. But isn't it also watering down the stories that really deserve to be told?

As people keep adding #MeToo to their social media, what will really make me gasp is if anybody adds #NoNeverMe.

I haven't posted #MeToo for many reasons, although I've had my fair share of stories; from the man who laid down on the escalator stair below me so he could look up my skirt, to the radio DJ with bad skin who constantly asked me "Can I touch your left breast?". Until one night he did.

I was preparing to read the news and he fulfilled his wish. Yep, he came up behind me and took me unawares, shoving his hand down my bra, leaving me shell-shocked just seconds before the news theme sounded. I composed myself and read whatever was newsworthy in Perth all those years ago.

Later, I told a few people about it and my way of dealing with it was laughing it off. I wouldn't laugh if it happened today. Things were different in the '90s.

So, I never really thought about it. Until now. And, for me, now it's just a story, a thing that happened. Interestingly, my collection of #MeToo stories happened during my more than 25 years in journalism, and not my brief 'glamorous' modelling days.

So I'm not joining in the #MeToo hashtag because I don't want my stories to cloud what I perceive as the real horror stories out there; stories told by people who really suffered. Of course the 'man lying on the escalator stairs to peer up my skirt' would be horrific to some people, but it didn't keep me awake at night.

Yes I recognise that that incident might have a deeper impact on a different person. Everyone has a different definition of sexual harassment. Some are completely unscathed, like me, while others suffer for years.

The great American writer Bret Easton Ellis once wrote about a party where a drugged up man approached every person and said, "You're beautiful. And you're beautiful. And so are you and you etc.". It lead the narrator to comment something like, "But if everybody is beautiful it means nobody is beautiful".

I'd be interested to meet a person who has never ever encountered sexual harassment of one kind or another, whether it's a wolf whistle, an outright assault or one of those 'If you let me touch you, you'll get this job' scenarios.

So as people keep adding #MeToo to their social media, what will really make me gasp is if anybody adds #NoNeverMe.

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