What #MeToo says about the power of storytelling


The #MeToo story that touched me the most was one where she waited to tell her story. Her aggressor had already been brought down. She thought that she was healed. She thought that her story wasn’t necessary. But ultimately she couldn’t keep silent—the stories that came first were akin to a hero’s call. Those who heard the call knew that these ugly artifacts had been guarded and festering for too long.  

Salma Hayek’s story, Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too, is reflective, soul searching and heartfelt. She asks, “Why do so many of us as female artists have to go to war?” She describes her deep creative fire and drive. In her and in so many others, we see a hero. 

She is a strong woman at her core. But along her journey she had doubts like we all do, of her abilities and her worth. And right there beside her was a villain trying to take advantage of any sign of weakness, ready to exploit. 

She fought off the attempts repeatedly. No, no, no, no. Still, even while being exploited and undermined, her creative fire lived. When she finally gave in to doing a sex scene in Frida that she didn’t want to do, she told herself that she was doing it to save her creative vision, a compromise that would still allow her to realize her dream of finishing this movie. But she knew it was all wrong. That inner fire responded with an emphatic no, no, no, no. 

When she went against her inner wisdom, she says, “I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears.”

She is ill. And she continues to be ill for a long time. But she pretends she is well. She thinks the story is over. 

But no. Her inner fire knows differently. That ending is unfinished. Our hero is asleep. She’s asleep until a story wakes her up, and then another and another, until she realizes, “Me too, it’s my turn to speak.” Scary? Yes. But it’s a way forward and she isn’t alone. I imagine in this moment that she suddenly feels more power and support than she has in years because there is a tribe of wise women standing with her and supporting what her inner voice has been telling her all along. 

This is where her journey suddenly gains clarity. If sexual harassment is part of our cultural poison, and deathly silence part of the illness, then these stories are part of the cure. As women continue to share more stories, it effectively inoculates us from this sickness of silencing our own voices. It weakens the power of those that want to belittle us, objectify us, and bend us to their will.

A few years ago, my daughter made a mask (pictured above) at school during their Native American unit. She could follow a pattern or make her own design. She made her own design. The only word to describe it is fierce. She came home and immediately put it up on her wall where it remains today. She isn’t aware of #MeToo. Part of me loves that mask, loves that fierce quality in my daughter. But I like it better when she is relaxed, creative, confident and humming to herself. 

When I was her age, I had a mask but it was store bought, breakable, and, no joke, looked like a mime. Back then, the #MeToo stories were happening in real time, had been happening for ages, just as they continue to happen today. The struggle for respect, autonomy, independence, self-realization, and power is ongoing and uneven. Things seem to have changed and then suddenly it seems we’re back near where we started. But no. We are making progress on the journey and these stories give testament of personal and collective transformation. 

The simple fact is, we live and work in a marketplace and the stories we share, or don’t share, in this space really do matter if we are to transform both personally and collectively into our best and most powerful selves.