On Facebook (and probably Twitter, though I haven’t checked), a meme is doing the rounds.
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
I haven’t tallied numbers, but my sense is that of women in my feed whose posts have appeared in the last day, somewhere over four-fifths of them have shared the “Me too” meme. I’d say the meme is working. This is a pandemic.
As Ed Brayton points out, it is a pandemic that we already knew existed but haven’t bothered to acknowledge or, more importantly, effectively attempt to counter.
As I’m thinking of how we actually address this, I’m led back to the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment effort. I think that beyond all the bottom-up ways that guys can help reduce the toxic influence of “bro” culture and the entire gestalt that gives us “locker room talk” as an excuse, there is the baseline that needs to be established that women are fully privileged participants in our society, and without the ERA we just don’t have that. The notion that other protections would be just as effective and that the ERA was not needed is belied by the history of what has actually transpired since the ERA failed to win passage. And that history is that nothing substantial changed.
So I think it is time to do whatever is needed to bring the ERA back to our state legislatures and actually get it passed. It is past time to stop relying on a patchwork of policies and laws that only partially address the problem (and which have proven themselves ineffective in the broad view) and actually give women a legal basis for change that has teeth in it. Yes, we should do all the other culture-shifting things being discussed, too, but without codifying this in a way that puts those changes beyond the reach of those seeking retrenchment we aren’t likely to make it permanent.