'Me too': Women share painful stories as campaign's momentum continues

Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano Verified account @Alyssa_Milano

Indian women have opened up about their sexual harassment stories on social media. That is exactly what it should be doing.

We can't get caught up with what's happening in Hollywood. In great numbers, our stories do matter, and can't be swept under the rug of, "Well, look at what she was wearing, she was asking for it", or "Why didn't she say something at the time?".

"But that doesn't detract from the fact that these things happen nearly routinely and on a mass scale to women and girls throughout their lives and that they're perpetrated overwhelmingly by men".

If we want to change this culture, we must learn to know it when we see it. "My own experience, my patients' experiences ..."

On Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, the words "me too" dominated timelines - sometimes by themselves, sometimes accompanied by an example (or examples) - serving as a harrowing reminder that sexual harassment and assault are deeply ingrained, alarmingly common experiences that poison our culture in ways we're only beginning to recognize.

Facebook Chief Operations Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote that many women in the workforce, including herself "especially in the early years - deal with unwanted advances and harassment the best we can". In the thread, I talked about how hard it had been to make that story public.

Spurred by the magnitude of women's stories coming out, a few men have chosen to speak online recently.

"Birthright" shows how everybody and every institution-including states, courts and religious organizations-has taken control over if and how a woman bears children, turning women into criminals in the process.

"During this time, a female producer had me do a nude lineup with about five women who were much much thinner than me, and we all stood side by side with only paste-ons covering our privates", Jennifer Lawrence said. It's like when you go to a unusual, new city and expect to be robbed, but are instead welcomed home with kindness.

So, Weinstein has been ousted by the Academy of Motion Pictures and even his own company, and now Roy Price, head of Amazon Studios, has resigned following accusations of sexual harassment as well. We must help each other, both women and men, define what unacceptable behavior is and how to recognize it without having to debate it.

If that sounds insane, just look to the White House for confirmation that these attitudes are found in the highest quarters. Sashka, a 36-year-old who spoke with NBC, said the scandal has caused her feelings of self-blame stemming from her own assault to resurface, and that reading other people's stories "feels terrible".

And we all know how that ended.

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For Chicagoan Caroline Muslin Berkowitz, #MeToo connects to everyday bread-and-butter women's issues, such as why women who seek a "reasonable salary" are doubted.

"Because #MeToo is so prominent, a lot of my clients feel it's inescapable", Boston-based therapist Aida Manduley told CNN. But maybe it's enough for now that while we figure that out, there are millions of women who will - at least - refuse to go back to feeling ashamed.

We won't ask if it really happened to you, too. "No. Let's be careful with the way we use our language to debase women in every way".

I wasn't sure what direction it was going to go in. We are raising the next generation of men. NOW.

A Facebook user named Gavin Noel Methalaka posted a status saying that he had consciously molested a woman in the past and that he did so without knowing or caring about the consequences of his actions. #MeToo broke the lock on shuttered memories: Sexual harassment has a way of seeping in, becoming a part of a girl or woman.

"That sat with me for the longest time". A practiced, casual laugh is mastered to make it through uncomfortable work meetings, until it just becomes ... a way to be.

This hashtag and viral moment wasn't centered on women of color and I don't know if the hashtag has amplified the voices of women of color. When a person inadvertently touches my knee or brushes my backside, epic memories awaken as those places feel more exposed.

When I lived in Chennai, I used to take the bus a lot. But my heart is literally racing with recollections of being touched, catcalled, cursed and objectified.

Milano said she has a "Me Too" story as well, but she chose not to share it at this time, hoping to put the focus on others.

I have two short phrases. I believe you.

In France, the top-trending hashtag #balancetonporc, started by journalist Sandra Muller, brought forth stories from women of being sexually harassed at work or in the street.

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