It sometimes feels like half the world sits on Twitter waiting for something to upset them. It certainly seemed to be the case this week when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, chose to wear green instead of Time's Up/Me Too-sanctioned black to the British Film and Television Awards, the BAFTAs.
“Disappointed!” whinged one tweeter. “Would it really have been THAT bad for Kate Middleton to wear black?” thundered another.
Yes. It would have. And here’s why.
If this is the can of worms she already opened by choosing not to wear black, can you imagine the chaos she’d cause if she did. People would be demanding she keep her nose out of politics. There’d be reams of newspaper front pages decrying her decision to overturn centuries of protocol and embroil the royals into a political movement. It would blow up into a global story that would extend far beyond the movement itself and into a thundering debate about the parameters of royalty in 2018 on every issue from that moment forward.
And the point of Me Too and Time’s Up would be entirely overshadowed.
The movement is not about dresses or hashtags or celebrities. And the more we make it about these frivolous symbols, the further it gets away from its true purpose.
Its true purpose is to highlight the very real barriers women face when stymied by sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace. It may have been kicked off by the brave allegations made by a handful of Hollywood actresses but since then it has opened a broader and just as important conversation about sexual harassment levelled at all women: hotel workers, farm workers, fast food workers and more.
If we have any hope of Me Too and Times Up making lasting impacts on the real lives of real women, we need to keep our eyes on the prize. Demand concrete changes in workplace behaviours. Support victims to get access to legal assistance. Educate men about their responsibilities towards female colleagues. Listen to women and their stories. These are real things that make real change.
The Me Too/Times Up movement is important. If we reduce it to tanties over a princess in a dress it will dissolve into a curious footnote in history, and prove, once more, why we can’t have nice things.