This week, Harvey Weinstein, one of the largest movie producers and studio executives in North America, was accused of sexually harassing many women for decades. It feels like just another in a long list of men abusing their power for sexual gain. Twitter, of course, was in an uproar about it and while I was going through my own feed, I noticed a tweet that caught my attention:
Took me only a moment to remember and I replied to it. Before long, I had many, many, many responses:
And while I (and my cell phone) were overwhelmed with the number of likes, retweets, and replies, my heart ached for all the women who said they had similar experiences. Now I had many wonderful male teachers and I have some great friends who are male teachers, but there are too many stories on this thread of teachers abusing their power over teenaged girls. Why is this even a thing? And how do we deal with it?
I wish I had an answer, but I really don’t. Someone suggested that we put cameras in classrooms. But is that dealing with the symptom rather than the cause?
It’s funny, but these tweets got enough replies that the trolls came for a visit. This was a first for me since most of my online presence is limited to a very few. They showed up with the most unoriginal of ammo: comments about my weight. At first, it stung. I mean that it physically hurt. A sharp tingle radiated through my ribcage and I wondered how famous women handled the constant barrage of hate. But then it passed. Suddenly, I felt lighter. They found a spot I’m sensitive about and attacked it, but it wasn’t the end of the world. It sucked for about five seconds, but that’s it. It was freeing in a way because I get to move on with my life and they’re stuck being miserable.
But those comments did show me a part of why people seem to think that they can go into a classroom and behave this way. This idea that showing sexual attraction to girls and women is somehow a compliment is dangerous. Especially since most of the time, we aren’t interested in knowing. And really, the most important thing is context.
If I have to explain to you what the difference here is, you need to consider your life a bit.
To conclude, if you’ve had an experience like mine or any of the thousands of replies that were posted to that original tweet, I’m so sorry. You aren’t at fault for someone else’s gross behaviour. And, everybody, we’ve got to raise a generation of people that aren’t like this. It needs to end with us.