Thankful for those sharing their pain

Looking for action from men in response to the #MeToo movement

The author, a Chico resident and retired social worker, states her daughter Nikki Hunt helped her craft this commentary.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the #MeToo going around on Facebook and Twitter. It has to do with the number of (mostly) women who are now willing to talk about their personal experiences of sexual harassment and assault.

If your definition of sexual assault includes a man exposing himself to children or adults; unexpected and unwelcome touching; remarks about body parts; looks at body parts meant to intimidate; or anything else with a sexual component intended to shame, entice, provide for power over someone or a full-on attack, then virtually 100 percent of the women I have known (in the United States) have experienced sexual harassment or assault.

The batch of well-known men recently accused of sexual misconduct and/or abuse seems to share one thing—feelings of embarrassment, but not of shame. They care only about being caught, not about their behavior; therefore, if they are not confronted, their behavior is OK.

That is why I am glad so many women are coming forth and speaking the truth about what has happened to them. I know there are men who do not assault or harass women in any way, but they seem to be few and far between. Even men close to me admit that they have done some of the above things when they were much younger, or that they have remained silent in the face of other men talking about women in sexist ways.

I hope men will let these painful stories sink in and change them. I hope they will let these stories open them to examining the ways they have contributed to a culture that has made sexual harassment/assault of mothers, daughters, sisters—of all women—normal and acceptable.

More than this, I hope that men will move beyond words of apology and promises of change to action—speak up and confront others when such behaviors are witnessed. And I hope women and girls keep sharing their stories until the stories stop happening.