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“When Did You Meet YOUR Harvey Weinstein?” Twitter Replies Are Enraging and Show That Sexual Harassment Is Everywhere

The writer Anne T. Donahue put out the call on Twitter for people to share stories of meeting “their” first Harvey Weinstein—meaning a person who abuses their position of power in order to sexually harass—and the replies climbed into the thousands. Way, way, way too many women have met a Weinstein.

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Sexual harassment is pervasive in every industry, on every street corner, and, unfortunately, at many ages; some of the stories here concern high school students and even young children. While men can and do experience sexual harassment, the commonality of this experience among women is striking and rage-inducing.

Every woman I know—every single one—has dealt with street harassment, which means unwanted comments and approaches, often multiple times a day, always accompanied by the fear that these unasked-for encounters could go wrong if you don’t smile and bear it. And trans women friends have reported that they become subject to this harassing behavior during and after transitioning.

Many of us have had casual incidents of sexual harassment as part of our daily lives for so long that they barely register anymore; some of the women on Twitter started recalling more and more experiences as they read through others’ stories. And many have been subjected to incidents that are better defined as sexual assault.

I first saw Donahue’s query when she was retweeted by Daily Show host Trevor Noah:

It’s good of Noah to promote this idea: men really do need to do better to stop this. What Noah might not realize is the thousands of replies here constitute only the tiniest of fractions of the harassed whole. There are almost four billion women alive on planet Earth; I’m pretty sure almost all of them has a story they could add to Donahue’s chain.

Here’s just a small sampling of the replies Donahue received.

And on and on and on and on and on. What’s incredibly important about threads like this is that they provide a place of shared solidarity and strength, where mutual sympathy instead of recrimination can be found. People like to ask why victims often stay silent about sexual harassment and assault: it’s because so often they’re not believed, or they’re told that it was their fault in some way, and the shame that should belong to the perpetrators is passed to their victims. Thus we keep things to ourselves. After all, society trains us to believe that if we hadn’t been wearing that skirt, or hadn’t been drinking, or hadn’t smiled, this wouldn’t have happened—it’s never that these men shouldn’t have initiated contact in the first place.

Even knowing how frequently this kind of harassment occurs, it’s moving—and infuriating—to see it laid bare like this.

Men need to do better. Men need to shut this down when they see it. They need to speak up when they hear denigrating talk about women in that “locker room” where they seem to discuss grabbing pussies without repercussion (per the President). They need to never let their children see behavior like this and assume that it’s somehow okay. They need to teach their children that it’s never okay. They need to believe women when they say that this has happened.

Good men are not to blame for the actions of the bad, but lately a lot of my favorite male allies have been admitting that they haven’t done enough: haven’t called out their friends’ behavior, haven’t shut down a sexist conversation, haven’t interceded when they see a woman harassed on the street or at work. It’s always easier to look away, but that’s not okay. Those same allies have said—echoing Trevor Noah’s astonishment—that they didn’t realize this was so frequent and widespread of a problem. Well, it is. And from our end, recent events have shown that women aren’t going to keep silent anymore. But we shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of pushing for change in an area that is already being unwillingly forced upon us.

(image: Shutterstock)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.

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