When #MeToo went viral, Janet Gurtler was among the millions of people who began to reflect on her past experiences. Things she had reluctantly accepted—male classmates groping her at recess, harassment at work—came back to her in startling clarity. She needed teens to know what she had not: that no young person should be subject to sexual assault, or made to feel unsafe, less than or degraded.
You Too? was born out of that need. By turns thoughtful and explosive, these personal stories encompass a wide range of experiences and will resonate with every reader who has wondered, “Why is this happening to me?” or secretly felt that their own mistreatment or abuse is somehow their fault—it’s not. Candid and empowering, You Too? is written for teens, but also an essential resource for the adults in their lives—an urgent, compassionate call to listen and create change.
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Finding My #MeToo Voice
One of the things I talk about is when the #metoo allegations exploded on social media, I found myself ranting to my husband and son about things that happened to me when I was a teenager and a young adult. Sexual harassment at school. Sexual harassment on the job. Jokes, comments, innuendos. I ranted a little because I sensed that my son and my husband didn’t really understand the scope of it, not really.
And I wanted them to. I ranted because many of these memories had been buried deeply and the movement loosened them and set them free.
Like millions, #metoo stories brought back uncomfortable feelings and recollections. And I realized I wanted young people to know that it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t okay to be the harasser, and it wasn’t okay to be harassed. And that one way to try and change things, was to talk about it.
When I was a young person, I don’t think we identified a lot of the things that happened to us as harassment. Boys were boys, and girls were girls. There were a lot of labels. There was no talk about boundaries or gender identification.
Homosexuality was something people didn’t really discuss. Or if they did, it was to make fun of it. It was a different era. I do see lots of change happening around me now. Good change.
And so, editing the YOU TOO anthology has had an impact on my life. I feel like my eyes are wider open. The essays that are part of the book showed me how common harassment was and still is, in young people’s lives. I feel passionate about young peoples’ experiences. I want to defend people and help but I’m not sure I even know what to do. I feel a maternal protection towards young people, who are more prone to harassment. But I also have a son, and I want to believe that he knows better. But I worry.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even feel like there’s much I do to change the world. Except to stand behind this book. To express my feelings and show the stories of others to the world through this book. It’s small, but it’s a platform. I want to believe that people are now being heard more than we were ten years ago.
Together we can make a bigger impact. My voice is small but when it joins with other more powerful voices, it becomes stronger. I want my voice to be heard.
This is my stop during the blog tour for You Too? by Janet Gurtler. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 6 till 24 January. See the tour schedule here: http://www.lolasblogtours.net/blog-tour-you-too-by-janet-gurtler