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Fargo Feminist: 'Me too' but what about 'us too?'

Photo illustration by April Knutson / The Forum

"Me too."

But men too, us too, you too — not to be confused with Bono's U2, but also including them too. All of us have experienced a hollow but thick fog of disillusionment, similar to the fall chill in any northern climate.

Regrettably, this fog of collective discontent stems from both jarring revelations about sexual abuse or indecipherable, destructive events. Atrocities come in many different forms.

Perhaps these heavy clouds are in response to the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. to date when Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Oct. 1, leaving 58 people dead.

Sadly, trudging through this swirling disbelief, general confusion and a life-draining need to find any logic to the chaos is not unfamiliar ground for most of us. In fact, it's how I grew up.

Before I reached double-digits, I learned that mass shootings weren't a thing of fiction. I vaguely remember learning about the Columbine shooting in 1999. (I hadn't even seen a shotgun at this time when some of my classmates were counting down the days until they'd enroll in their first firearm safety course.)

Then in 2007 — before I even stepped foot on a college campus — the Virginia Tech Shooting reminded me again of what humans could do to each other.

Each situation was a harsh reality check that — with the foolish joy of youth — I soon forgot.

Now I recognize a cadence flowing into my eardrum that was present when I was young. Unfortunately, similar to the mass shooting epidemic, the sexual assault epidemic seems to follow a similar pattern in our communities: revelation, rhetoric, retribution and rediscovery of the problem's scope and all of its complicated nuances resulting in a slight retreat-and-recover period. Like the intangible courage of the pioneers, our collective forgetfulness seems to be a necessary, ongoing and ultimately indistinguishable aspect of our modern lives. For once, our "Midwest stoicism" is not restrained to one state or segment of the U.S.

On Oct. 5, a New York Times report by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey revealed that Hollywood producer and film executive Harvey Weinstein was accused of several instances of sexual harassment.

This week, the "Me too" responses to the latest and deeply-saddening revelations of abuse against women follow a proverbial rhythm. On Monday, #MeToo was tweeted nearly half a million times in less than 24 hours, having been popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, according to The Atlantic. Women and some men posted on their social media accounts "Me too" to signal they'd been a victim of sexual harassment or assault. (The "Me too" movement was founded more than 10 years ago by activist Tarana Burke — an African American women's advocate.)

Until the next social media movement in response to an elite's abuse of power ignites — or, God forbid, the next mass shooting — this singular but elongated breath of silence will be held to carry the regret from those irrevocably damaged. This time, we use the refrain of "Me too."

I'm tired of this futile track.

Let us hold onto this moment of rediscovery and decide today is the time for action instead of just another social media update. Let's connect with advocates and have difficult conversations about what it is to be a responsible human being. If we learned anything from this month, it's that it's so easy to hurt and be hurt. It is so easy for a person to be overpowered, broken and gain the "victim" label.

So instead, let's disregard this tired rhythm and lead with a new mantra: we are fragile. Our very existence is delicate.

I am fragile.

I bet every person — despite their background — can respond to this with a soft but proud: "Me too."

April Knutson

April Knutson is lifestyle-focused journalist producing stories for the Forum News Service about people, health, community issues, and services. She earned her degree in both English Literature and Mass Communications. After working as a digital marketing specialist and web design consultant for a few years, she joined Forum Communications in 2015. She grew up on a farm near Volga, S.D. Follow her on Twitter @april_knutson.

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