Thank you for your response to Part 1 of this subject. It’s crucial that we not forget the intersections of our identities and how they’re all at play at the same time (if you’re not sure what I mean by that, let me know and I’m happy to speak more about it). Just like with most viral movements, there are some problems but there’s some good, too.
So last week when #metoo was going around, it came with it so many complications. Like, does everyone who’s ever experienced sexual violence have to share? And does it have to be rape for it to count? No. On both counts. First of all, just like when it comes to National Coming Out Day, you don’t have to say anything about yourself or your life experience that doesn’t feel really good and safe to you. And secondly, no one ever gets to tell you whether or not your experience counts. If it was uncomfortable enough to live in the front of your mind, yeah, that counts.
I had a conversation with a person who kept saying that most of the girls who posted #metoo weren’t even raped, so how does he know if this person was just “offended” or actually assaulted? The answer is, dude, it doesn’t matter. Because it didn’t happen to you, it happened to her. So… buggar off and try to be more productive.
Which brings me to… so what do we do? I know, we play the long game. We raise our children to not feel like they have to accommodate people and also to respect other people’s bodies and we just wait for the older generation to die out. I guess?
And we do all we can to lobby and enact policy change that actually punishes rapists. But again, that’s a long game, too. I hear a lot of people saying, “We need to create a society in which people who are assaulted feel comfortable enough to come forward.” But that still doesn’t feel exactly right to me because the last thing that a violated person should have to do is be forced to take on all the labor of dealing with it all.
It’s so hard. It’s so, so hard. A rape test kit, in and of itself, can take up to 4-6 hours. It’s a very extensive and invasive process–especially for a person who has just undergone trauma. Learn more about what keeps people from going through the full process of prosecuting someone for a rape at Endthebacklog. That doesn’t even go into the way that a person can be traumatically violated without the experience fitting the traditionally accepted definition of rape.
So, this all started because Harvey Weinstein was abusing the hell out of a bunch of women who worked for/ with him. He violated Hollywood Royalty as well as other people who weren’t as well known. He didn’t do it because he was horny or because those women were sexually attractive. He did it as a power move. Rape and sexual violence are never about sexual attraction and always about power. Recognize that. Repeat it. Remember it. It’s about power. He did it because he knew he could get away with it and keep himself in a position of power. Until he couldn’t.
So that tells me that we need to be expediting the “until he couldn’t” part of the story. Look, you don’t know Harvey Weinstein. You might not even know anyone rich and famous who is systematically assaulting people. But you do know people. I promise you know someone who has had a non-consensual experience with someone else that you know. It happens all the time. Yesterday, I read that every 7 hours or so, someone in Kansas reports a rape. That’s a lot of people. And when you consider the people who have been violated in a way that isn’t necessarily definable as “rape”, and those who haven’t ever reported what happened to them, that’s a hell of a lot more.
I know that my audience, here, is primarily women but I want to talk to the few men who are reading this… you have an obligation. You have to do what you can to make the people around you feel like they’ll never get away with treating someone with such disrespect. Whatever it may be: an unwanted pat on the bum, whispering in someone’s ear, telling a joke that belittles women. You don’t have to be the rapist to be complicit in the violation of others.
And why is it on your shoulders? Because if these people gave a damn about what we had to say about it, this would have been solved a long time ago. Because we’ve been screaming for ages, “hey please treat us like the equal humans that we are.” And if you’ve spent 15 minutes anywhere on the internet, you’ll see what happens when we ask for respect. It’s not great.
Look, a person needs to know that he’s going to face some kind of social repercussions for his disgusting behavior. Like, his friends who refuse to be associated with someone who’s grab assing when he gets drunk. Like getting zero laughs and uncomfortable silence when he makes a messed up joke about women. Like knowing that he’ll have no safe spaces to go to when he violates someone.
Try stepping in when you hear someone refer to a woman as “baby”, “honey”, “sugar”. It’s not that hard, “she has a name”. We’re putting our bodies on the lines just by existing in this world. The absolute least you can do is correct your asshole friend.
Men, people with this masculine privilege, we are literally out here dying for you to step in and do something.
When “the good ones” in our lives are still doing nothing at all… I hope you understand how hopeless it can feel.
We can’t get policy changed as long as the people who are running this joint still don’t seem to understand that there’s a problem. It’s not a matter of waiting until the older generation to die out so the younger, better generation can take over. Because a) the older generation is training the younger and b) there’s no such thing as generations who are better than each other. There’s no such thing as any group of people that’s better than another. That’s the whole point!
I’m just so tired. And like I said in the last post, I know that I barely even have any right to be. But I am. We all are.