Dropping the F-bomb: #MeToo and a letter on solidarity
Brittany Tiplady // Columnist
Two weeks ago, I was taking the bus home, and was followed to my seat by a man who had been previously sitting at the front of the vehicle. He stood next to my aisle seat, brooding over me as the bus filled up with the Granville street rush. As the bus became more chaotic with the increase of passengers, he inched his hips closer towards my face. Each time the bus stopped, the closer his black jeans thrusted towards my ears. With my personal space now violated, I shifted my knees and angled my body towards the woman next to me, looking up and behind ever so quickly to catch a glimpse of his face peering down at me. He sneered.
At my stop, I grabbed my bag, stood up, and forcefully threw myself off the bus in what felt like one whirlwind moment of “I’ve got to get the fuck off this thing.” I forgot about the incident by the end of my walk home. That’s approximately four minutes.
Later at dinner I told my husband what had happened and opened with, “Oh my God, I forgot tell you!” And then I realized something; how could I forget that? A strange male on public transit had deliberately thrusted his crotch in my face for 15 minutes. That’s not a forgettable encounter. What is increasingly fucked up is that women deal with this shit so often it becomes an afterthought. We forget that we had been violated in public after four minutes because that has become a norm in the female narrative. Men do fucked up things, we feel unsafe, frightened, vulnerable, and then we move on.
When the #MeToo movement caught re on social media, I was on my honeymoon and felt embarrassed to not be actively participating. CBS News reported that the #MeToo movement reached 85 countries with 1.7 million tweets. Truthfully, working in feminist media comes with a lot of social media induced pressure. I chose to remain quiet on my personal accounts, digesting what was circling around me online, and reading the honest, heartbreaking and powerful stories the women on my feed had the courage to share, and continue to divulge.
On Saturday, Nov. 4, a small but mighty crowd gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery in solidarity with this powerful movement. We braved the beginnings of winter to chant, and clap, and stomp, and stand amongst the energy of survivors.
Like everything in life and feminism, I’m still learning and I’m not in a place where I feel ready to share my story. Even for an open gal like me, my experience isn’t ready for Instagram. I worry that my silence is perceived as indifference, that my privilege is at the helm of this decision, that my patriarchy-smashing-chops are getting weak. But that is the farthest from the truth. I am in full fucking solidarity and support of the women who continue to participate in this movement with active voices.
I believe that the #MeToo movement continues to be a force in the wake of tragedy – I applaud the women that took the online podium to share, to educate and demonstrate the most vulnerable act of strength. I believe you, and you better believe I stand right beside you. New information is coming out nearly every day, and new abusers are being publicly identified, shamed and red from their jobs. Women aren’t fucking around and the energy is palpable.
I’m not ready to share my story, and I may never be. And that’s okay too. My work now lies in supporting those who are ready to share theirs, and to help ensure that their voices and their bravery are not in vain.
We are all swimming around in this pond of transition and change and figuring out our own place in it all.
For my friend and business partner Kristi and I, our place is in our little platform called Loose Lips Magazine that we created over two years ago. We are learning, as we all are, to keep our minds and hearts open to this powerful shift in our culture. To be relevant, but to also be mindful, and to come forward with the utmost journalistic and human integrity.
May you be triggered, or empowered, or saddened or strengthened, we are here.