Privilege and #metoo Pt. 2

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.


Privilege and #metoo Pt. 1

I feel like I’m always a little late to the game when it comes to addressing these social topics but I have to tell you, that’s not unintentional. For me, it’s important to digest something and really get a grip on what I believe before I speak out to the rest of you about the thing. And also, these kinds of things are really exhausting. A lot of emotional labor goes into processing and writing all of this out. Some people have a fire lit underneath them early and that’s where you get these brilliant, quick articles. But I go into shutdown mode and come back when there’s a pile of warm ash. That’s okay, it’s still important.
So, I know that #metoo was sooo last week but it’s, heartbreakingly, a timeless story.  I would love to talk to you about some problems with the campaign as well as the importance of it and what practical actions we can take in the wake of it. What do you say, can we go there, together?

So, the internet exploded with #metoo after Alyssa Milano posted about it on Twitter. Last Monday, my Facebook feed was filled with #metoo after #metoo. I posted it. I *liked* in solidarity with my sisters who were adding their voices. In private groups, I said “it’s okay” to the people who could only bring themselves to share it in small, safe spaces. It was everywhere. And I do believe that it was/ is vitally important to make sure that people are allowed to put up their hands in solidarity with one another.
Still though, something about it doesn’t sit perfectly in my soul but also, what IS going to feel right when it comes to this subject? It felt… little. It felt tired. Like, how many times do we have to set the world on fire with our screams about how sexual violence is real and happening all the time every single minute of every single day before someone listens? Just a little over a year ago we were all telling our stories when Brock Turner got… what was it… six and a half minutes in prison for brutally raping a woman? It feels like every few months something like this happens and we all feel like, “this time someone’s going to listen! This time, someone’s going to stop this.” I am so tired.

I can’t help but be reminded that if I think that I, a white, cis-gendered woman, am tired–what about the others who don’t have the privileges that I have? I’m not a feminist if my heart and my hands don’t quickly jump to those who are less protected than I. In particular, I can’t stop thinking of the undocumented people among us who are constantly victims of sexual abuse and trauma with no where to go. Where exactly are they supposed to report that? A police officer? Please.
People with disabilities that make them particularly vulnerable to the people who are supposed to help care for them but instead take their advantages. Black women who are fighting, inarguably, harder than anyone in my circles for their own humanity to be recognized. And I think I’m tired?

I make a point to follow a lot of people of color–particularly those who see themselves as educators–on  social media to make sure I don’t get stuck in my own bubble too much. I’m grateful every day for these people who are showing me the ways that I’m resting on my privilege–things I don’t see right away. Showing me different perspectives, even if I’m not their target audience. It’s crucial for me to listen and learn.
A few days after #metoo started, I was hearing, here and there, about how Alyssa Milano didn’t start this after all like we all thought. A black woman named Tarana Burke did–ten years ago.
For even a few days after that information came out, I wondered, “okay but why does it matter?” Why does it matter that someone else came up with it if the concept is being utilized right now? I’m embarrassed that it took me days and days to realize this.

It’s because when it was black women trying to be heard, no one paid attention. A rich white woman sends a tweet and the whole world freaks out! That’s the issue. Or… that’s one of the major issues. Why aren’t we listening to and fighting for the black women among us?

Ericka Hart and Ebony Donnley have a podcast called Hoodrat to Headwrap: A Decolonized Podcast where they talk casually and educationally about everything that I wonder about the most in life. Sex, gender, race, the problem of white people… all of it. On their latest episode, Ericka mentioned kind of… exasperatedly that of course a black woman came up with Me Too ten years ago. And of course no one really paid attention until a white woman decided to use it.
Not only that but in this podcast, I learned that it was a woman of color who brought these charges against Harvey Weinstein in the first place but until Rose McGowan and Gwynneth Paltrow said something, no one paid attention. Why are we making black women pave the way to make space for our white voices?

And no, it’s not our fault that we didn’t know the whole entire history of it all before we participated in it but… gah! Isn’t that how it all is, though? Over and over again, if you go back to the history of most things in America, everything was built on the pain of people of color. And then I can just dance right over it all like everything is so easy but it was never easy–someone else just did all the hardest work for us.

I’m angry that people have to fight so hard to be heard and I’m even angrier that it took a lot of us so long to see that these other people have been doing it for centuries.

“Now that it’s happening to you–now we’re all up in arms? No, we’ve been up in arms! Where have you been?”
–Ericka Hart, Hoodrat to Headwrap: A Decolonized Podcast, Episode 8

I know that we (“we” being you and me, reader) really and truly believe that unless all of us are free, none of us are free. I know we don’t actively believe that one skin color is inherently better than another. But we need to make that a practice. We need to actively practice our intersectionality if it’s ever going to mean anything (and by the way, even the word “intersectional” as we apply it to Feminism was developed by, who? Say it with me, a black woman!) We need to listen to and believe the marginalized among us. A lot of people keep saying that we need to give these people a voice. No, these people have a voice it’s just that we aren’t listening.
Listen. And pass the mic that you were born with.

Now, I have a lot more to say about #metoo and I’m going to post about that in a few days but I just couldn’t go into this conversation without acknowledging the way that privilege is taking a super front seat in this conversation.

In Part 2 I want to talk about practical things we can do in the wake of this viral movement.
Thank you for listening to me.
As always, please share your thoughts and feelings in the comments or on Facebook.


What Does She Owe You?

Earlier this week I took Fiona to the dog park. We love to go out there. She likes to run. I like to sit in the sun all by myself and unplug from the internet for a while. Sometimes, I bring a book but I almost never read it because my mind really just loves to wander. We’re usually alone.


This time, though, a gentleman was there with his three dogs. This man did not share my joy in solitude and quietness out there. He was so enthusiastic and trying so hard to engage me in conversation despite my use of the polite nod, headphones, and actively walking away from him. Finally after his fourth failed attempt at getting a conversation going he said to me, in the exact same tone of voice that he used when speaking to his tiny dogs, “well you’re just not very friendly are you?” Like, he could have easily finished that up with, “Who’s not a friendly girl? You aren’t! No you’re not!”

Frankly, I was just grateful that he was rounding the corner towards giving up so I just said, “not really,” put my earbuds back in and texted my friends about this guy. Look, could I have made an effort? Yeah. Of course. Am I required to? I am certainly not. And why not? Because I’m tired. We’re tired. And also because I’m just a person doing her damn best at being alive some days.

Last year, immediately following the funeral of a friend, I was filling my car up with gas and the man across the terminal said to me, “Come on, baby, smile. Things can’t be that bad.”

A dear friend was walking out to her car in a grocery store parking lot in the middle of the day as a man approached and asked her to him show her tits.

Last winter, a stranger approached me as I was closing up the bookstore and asked me to drive him out to his home in the middle of the country well after dark. And when I very extra politely declined, he said, “well I hope someone helps you out when you need help one day.”

Someone I know was once physically assaulted at work by a man who was upset that her nail polish was chipped. He claimed that she didn’t show him respect by making the effort to appear presentable.

For some people, it can be easy to “see both sides”. It’s easy–really easy to make us look like the bitch because we each said “no” to these men who wanted a piece of us.
That guy was just being friendly or he needed help or he obviously has issues. And because of these special circumstances, we’re expected to make a sacrifice of ourselves to be as polite as possible to these men who are so entitled to us. Entitled to our friendliness. To our bodies, our time, our resources, our devotion.

Sometimes we’re polite because our comfort comes secondary to those around us. It’s part of being a woman. We give and give and give. That’s the way we’re raised and that’s what men were raised to expect from us.
Other times, we’re polite as a means of survival. Because we don’t know how they’ll react to a rejection, we have to butter it up in the most sticky, sweet, gratitude. So flattered that they’ve chosen us to talk to on this lucky, special day.

It’s exhausting.

So when you come to me at the dog park and want to become best friends immediately without taking a minute to read the room, when you need a favor from a stranger, or you want some girl to take her top off or change her nail color to make you feel good I beg you. I BEG YOU to take a second and repeat after me:

This person owes me nothing.



Stories Make Change

**Trigger Warning: A hopeful piece regarding sexual violence and taking a stand against it. But sexual violence nonetheless.**

Update #1

I’ve sat quietly with friends as they’ve told me their stories of sexual assault, harassment, non-consent, and rape. Held their hands, pushed the hair out of their faces, telling them “what can we do to make you feel safe?” and “whatever you choose to do is the right thing and  I’m behind you.” Inside I’m screaming out in agony that yet again, the cavern in my chest widens and swallows up the people that I love. The people that I love who are made to feel unsafe. In their own homes. In their own clothes. In their very own bodies. They’re made to feel unsafe–a price that they have to pay so that some one else can feel big for a day. Tell me how that’s right. Tell me how we’re just supposed to accept that, will you?

According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women will experience an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male.

After the Brock Turner case, there’s a fire in my belly. I will not sit quietly and hold hands and nod in agreement feeling, ultimately, helpless. I won’t do it any more. Not one more time.

There’s a lot of talk about how rape is bad. And, I mean, yeah! Who’s going to argue with that? There are too many people in my Twitter and Facebook feeds talking about how easy it is to not rape a person. And especially after the Stanford case, because it was so heinous and because his victim spoke out so bravely, eloquently and admirably and because it fit the standard definition of rape so clearly, it’s easy to say “I’ve never done that and I’ll never do that” and “well, that has certainly never happened to me.”
But I know that some of those same people have had not-exactly-consensual sexual experiences. And that’s where it gets muddy.
I know that in the muddy, grey area, a lot of these people do not consider themselves “rapists” or “rape victims” and I’m not even suggesting that they should. I know that because it is muddy and because it is complicated, a lot of stuff gets ignored or pushed aside or deemed “not that bad”. But, listen. It won’t be ignored. The culture of non-consent is still worth taking on.


As long as the standard definition of “rape” involves a stranger in a back alley or behind a dumpster or hiding in your closet, usually with a weapon, then we’re all going to think we’re in agreement—we’re all going to ignore the people who have experienced sexual assault in the grey-area. And that grey-area is where most of these instances occur.

I really believe that change won’t occur until we change the definition. And I don’t think one person can do that. It’s going to take a village—a great big one. So I’m begging you to be a part of that village.

What I want to do is this:

I want to show the world what sexual assault and harassment looks like in all of its various forms.

I want to collect stories from women and men that share, from personal experience, what non-consent has looked like in their life and the effect that it has. I want to post those stories (anonymously) to keep the conversation going and to change the general consensus of what sexual harm is.

You can share your story by filling out the form at the bottom of this post or by emailing me: libby (at)
You can help by passing this along. The more stories we collect, the more comprehensive we can be, the more education we will spread.

Leave your story here:

I want you to know that I honor you and your story and I will treat each one with the sacredness that it deserves. Your experiences didn’t happen in vain. They will be transformed into a teachable moment—causing a ripple effect of education.

Thank you.

Edit Note: Because anonymity is vital with this post, I disabled comments simply as a way to keep things from getting confusing for anyone who wants to share something vulnerable. But I still want to have this conversation with you. Head over to the XOXO, Lib Facebook page and we’ll talk there. Or send me an email.
Thanks to every one who has already shared their stories since this post went live. XOXO

Page 91: Feminist Friday Feat. Sarai + GIVEAWAY

I debated about offering a trigger warning on this post because, while it does not go into explicit content, we do gently go into the subject of sexual assault. But I want to respect the autonomy of my readers and and give you the opportunity to make an informed decision for yourself about whether or not to read on. I hope you all have a lovely day.

My friends—do yourself a favor. Get up, go get a cup of coffee—maybe put on a pot of tea. Kick off your shoes and get yourself into a comfortable state because what we have for you is a big, juicy edition of Feminist Friday and I just know that you’ll be able to absorb more if you’re feeling really good and unhurried. Oh! We’ve got a giveaway happening, too! But just hold on. Put on your cozy socks and come on back.

We’ll wait.
Continue reading “Page 91: Feminist Friday Feat. Sarai + GIVEAWAY”