If you’re on Facebook you’ve probably seen the ‘me too’ posts flooding your newsfeed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault/harassment scandals (as well and a handful of similar scandals that have taken place recently).
I’m of course proud of the people around me for speaking out and identifying themselves as victims or sexual harassment/other bad behavior.
And of course, me too. Obviously. Most of us. All of us. And some men as well, though I guess less frequently, because so much of this is predicated on a system of male dominance.
I’m afraid of talking about this in such a cis-het way. As though we’re only talking about women experiencing harassment and abuse at the hands of men. But let’s say that that’s what I’m talking about, and that I’m well aware that there are many other experiences that fall outside of that pattern. And that those experiences are no less genuine, no less valid, and no less terrible.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. “
This is what we’re talking about.
And by “give people a sense”, by people we mean men. Because me too. Because all of us.
How do men not realize this yet? Why does it fall on women again and again to beg men to treat us like people? To take these problems seriously?
I’m really tired of it. I’m tired of posting about being sexually harassed. Sexually assaulted. I got tired when I messaged my guy friend every time I was sexually harassed a few years ago, multiple times a day, to help him understand ‘the magnitude of the problem’.
I’m tired of women having to expose their traumas just so a ‘critical mass’ of collective harm can be observed and evaluated for its legitimacy and merits by men and the system that is so damaging to us.
Why is this necessary? Why is it falling on women to identify themselves as survivors and victims to start a conversation? So men can care about their sister, their mother, the girl in their class- because they don’t respect women as a whole, in the abstract? Because they didn’t believe that this was such a pervasive problem? How hard are they trying not to listen? How is it so easy for men to escape from the reality that is my daily life, the daily life of my friends, the daily life of all women.
If everyone (men, those in power, larger institutions like churches, the government, and schools) held aggressors accountable for their actions, this type of status wouldn’t be “necessary.”
Instead I see people I who have harassed me at parties or on the street, liking my friends’ statuses when they post “me too”. I listen to guys that I’m just getting to know speak about other women as though they were meet and then try to understand how they can think of me as a friend when I’m no different than she.
It’s not what I wear. It’s not that I’m flirtatious. It’s not that I’m asking for it. It’s not that I’m leading him on.
I was gardening in my yard in sweatpants and a large sweater. It was because I was outside. It’s because I was visible.
I was in middle school and sitting in my car with the window up.
I was walking to class.
I was in fourth grade, swinging at the playground.
I was just trying to get off the bus.
I was just trying to get on the bus.
I was just trying to be alive.
You say that you would love all of the ‘me too’ statuses to be your female friends acknowledging that they feel safe and secure in this world.
Wouldn’t we all? What are you doing about it?
I’m tired of the silence.
I want to see men calling their friends out on all of the problematic shit they say. Because when I do it, it doesn’t matter. I want to see people supporting transwomen. Because it’s not enough to love yourself when a system is trying to do you violence. I want women of color to feel safe. I want rapists of all races to be more fearful of the law than innocent POCs. I want cat callers and train pervs to be glared at the way some people glare at gay couples.
I want to see men, people in power, anyone and everyone who is complicit in this system to experience one ounce of the frustration and pain that women have to deal with every day. To call it out because when we do it doesn’t make a difference. And it won’t until someone decides that we actually matter. That our voices have a sound worth being heard.
Otherwise all of these ‘me too’s are nothing.
I’m frustrated to see people I love begging a deaf system to protect them from a problem it is trying to ignore. I’m tired of nothing changing.
So if you see that someone isn’t posting a ‘me too’, don’t assume they haven’t experiences sexual assault. Survivors don’t owe you their story.
And the responsibility to make a change should not be on survivors and victims. It should be shifted to the people whose actions or whose silence perpetuate this violence and allow it to occur.
But one last time, please. Me too. Please help and please listen. Please recognize that even if you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
- Practice telling your friends that what they’re saying isn’t right, isn’t cool, isn’t okay.
- Not only friends. Family too. And randos.
- Consider that women might be telling the truth when they claim to be victims of sexual aggression. And be compassionate.
- Don’t judge people for their appearance/gender presentation/sexuality.
- Don’t treat women as targets to be gotten.
- Don’t try to get a woman to listen up with alcohol or drugs.
- Don’t continue making physical advances when a woman isn’t into it.
- Rape jokes aren’t funny.
- Capitalizing on the comparative powerlessness of women isn’t okay. Whether you are in a position of authority or are stronger than she is. Stop.
- If you’re walking behind a woman who is walking alone, particularly when it’s late- slow down. Or even cross the street.
- Also just don’t follow someone because you think she’s pretty? I was listening to a guy say that he was doing this without realizing the other day because he loved her perfume (#ISIPCA). He thought it was funny and I thought of all the times I’ve had men following me and had to think about whether I was in a populated area, whether I should grab my keys, whether his footsteps sounded like the footsteps of someone I could outrun.
- Respect us. Listen to us. Recognize your power to help. Recognize your responsibility.