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The Court of Social Media and #Me Too

baby deer illustrating a post about The Court of Social Media and the #Me Too campaignIn the wake of this tsunami of #Me Too harassment claims, I’m starting to feel like my conscience is pulled in two directions.

Women have at last been freed up to say it like it is… and it is absolutely is as they say.

I do want women to be able to speak up but, and here’s the thing: I don’t want Twitter and Facebook or any other social media platform to become the investigator, judge and jury on anything, never mind, harassment, sexual abuse, sexual abuse and rape cases – it’s too serious for that.

You see, I do know that very few of us women survive to adulthood without seeing at least one wizened up puddle of leaking scrotum winking at them from a rolled down car window, or even a testicle hanging from the centre of a pair of jeans at a bus stop.

We may have even have had a bundle of hairy groin suddenly appearing at a business meeting or even a full set of testicles and erect penis jangling towards them as they walk along a busy street.

Personally, I got the car window scrotum and the full set in the middle of a busy street.

I also had the unsettling experience of sitting opposite a director who dressed for a film script meeting in an untied dressing gown and nothing else and who perched on his chair with his legs open, bringing a whole new meaning to the term – a balls-out director.

At the time I was naive enough to wonder if he knew what he was doing but now I know – he did.

Then there’s the other stuff – they don’t all get it straight out there. There’s the man in the workplace, you know the one, probably your boss, he touches your leg every time he makes a point. Did he mean to do that?

Or the man, probably your boss, who drapes his arm casually around your shoulders as he points to something important on a piece of paper, then accidentally brushes his hand across your breast as he reaches for a paperclip.

All these things happened to me, and my friends so many, many, many times that I used to think some of it was okay. That the arm around the shoulder thing meant my boss thought my work was good.

I used to think that the breast-brushing thing was an accident – those pesky breasts, they do get in the way sometimes.

But I haven’t thought like that for a long time, and it didn’t take #Me Too to change my thoughts.

We women have always talked, the difference is that before we talked in private.

But now everything’s changed. Now, we can talk in public. We can ‘me too’ ourselves right across the entire public arena and share in the ocean of sympathy and support that’s suddenly here.

But what’s here? What’s really here? Apart from sympathetic comments and sad-faced emojis on a Facebook post.

Many women never fully recover from sexual abuse, from assault, from rape. They might get up, dust themselves down, and start all over again. But something’s been lost, and it’s lost forever.

Sympathetic comments don’t heal pain; emojis don’t fix broken people. At best sympathy might be a short-term shot in the arm but after that – what?

Wouldn’t justice be better? Punishment for the perpetrator and compensation for the victim?

Call me old-fashioned, but I like justice. I like the idea of it. I like the fact that it exists.

We all know the reality of justice falls far short of the idea. It’s not perfect which is why women have taken to social media.

But, I have seen some of the worst groping/breast brushing/hand droppers signalling their virtue and dripping sympathy for ‘me too’ posts all over Facebook…

So, sympathetic comments and virtue signalling apart, how do we support women, who, encouraged by this new openness and atmosphere of belief, have shared their worst nightmares on the World Wide Web?

Do we support them towards justice?

Well sort of…. one Irish celebrity is encouraging women to come forward with stories about another celebrity. Not to the police but to her Twitter feed – the one with the clickbaity hashtag.

For what? To add to rumours in a trial by social media?

Where are the benefits for women in that?

Okay, I can see the benefits for someone who starts such a campaign – an increased social media presence and followers and all that.

But what about the woman who has been assaulted? What is she getting out of it?

A perpetrator who has been tried and convicted on Twitter could claim his chance of a fair trial was compromised by the very campaign that led to it – if it ever got to trial.

His Twitter trial could provide the ‘evidence’ he needs to sue the victim for slander and libel. He is the one who could get compensated – by the victim.

What of those who ‘supported’ her?

Will they offer up their own money to pay the damages she now owes him? Or will they move sadly on to the next trending topic – hashtag what next…

In the case of the Irish celebrity encouraging people to come forward with their stories via her twitter feed I tried pointing this out but was accused of falling into the trap of ‘criticising other women.’

Apparently criticising one woman is the same as criticising all women. Well no, actually it’s not and I shouldn’t need to say that.

Do we want men, or women, to be judged and found guilty because their description vaguely matches the man described in a tweet?

I know historically women’s claims have often not been investigated properly.

But does that mean we now convict people without a trial at all? Without a proper investigation? Just because someone wrote a thinly disguised description of some celebrity on Twitter?

The climate of accusation on social media is starting to resemble the court scene from Idiocracy – with Jerry Springer style courtrooms appearing all over social media. I don’t know about you, but this scares me.

I would much rather see perpetrators of assault, investigated, tried and punished in a court of law – not the court of Twitter.

If the justice system is letting us down, then we should improve the justice system – not throw it away and replace it with a hashtag.


THE SUNSHINE GIRL BY GRACE JOLLIFFE

NOW AVAILABLEThe Sunshine Girl by Grace Jolliffe on a post about The Court of Social Media and the #Me Too campaignDOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON.CO.UK

DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON.COM

Is the smiling stranger the answer to her problems? Or is he the start of a nightmare?
A gritty and funny story set in 1970s Liverpool.

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