Today my Facebook and Twitter and Instagram feeds were full of women that I know and women that I don’t know and women that I love saying ‘me, too.’ They, too, have been sexually harassed or assaulted And let’s be honest, in most cases, they’ve been sexually harassed and assaulted. Most of the violence, both physical and emotional, perpetrated against these women was done by men.This is a fact.
I had a message from a friend who had posted on her page stating she was a victim of assault and shared an article that articulated rage regarding Weinstein and men in general and our rape culture. Rage born of pain and fear and anguish. And men she knows showed up in her comments to tell her how dismissive that was and to teach her how to be less angry and #notallmen her until they felt satisfied. Maybe we’d want to help you more if you were less angry, they said.
I’m in a private group of women living overseas, aside from that we share no one common thread and have known each other for the better part of 10 years. A post about ‘me, too’ began in that group and quickly filled with women sharing their stories of assault, harassment, and stalking. Stories of being harassed by strangers and assaulted by loved ones and intimidated by bosses. Women who have never told their partners or any other man for fear of being blamed. Women who weren’t sure if being groped or catcalled was ‘bad’ enough to count as harassment. Women who have posted their ‘me, too’ and waited for men to show up to support them but know they will continue to wait.
The only thing more distressing that the sheer volume of women posting ‘me, too’ was the number of conversations I had with women who have also been assaulted and harassed but didn’t feel they could post ‘me, too’ themselves. They felt ashamed of other people knowing they were victims. They felt afraid of their predator reacting to being called out. They felt insecure that they might be overreacting to their experience. They felt too numb to take this in and take this on. They felt anger because when they did report their assault in real life, no one believed them. In this sea of solidarity and ‘me, too’ our women-blaming culture was still enough to keep them silent. I don’t blame them, though. I completely understand. I hear them, too.
For every ‘me, too’ you’ve seen there are five or five million more unsaid, unposted. For every ‘me, too’ there is someone who was harassed, assaulted, or raped but doesn’t even consider what happened to them to fit in those categories because that’s how powerfully we’ve been conditioned to blame ourselves and accept this violence. For every ‘me, too’ you saw there is a man (and sometimes a woman doing the bidding of the rape culture that embodies the patriarchy) making a dismissive comment or sending an abusive private message.
I sat staring at the blinking cursor myself, thinking about whether or not to write ‘me, too.’ Not because I doubt myself, I know all the ways I’ve been attacked, I’ve chronicled the aggression and filed it away neatly in the back of my mind so that I can continue my daily life. But because I don’t want to answer questions. Open myself up to their eyes. Their eye-rolling. Their dismissiveness that is in itself violence.
I hesitated because what does it DO. Who is helped? What can be gained? All of us who sat there and took that moment and then decided to post ‘me, too’ anyway, we all just opened ourselves up to a world full of men who as a cohort have, up until today, done pitifully little to stop this. To stop each other. To stop. Stop all of this. Isn’t this just screaming into the void?
And I decided, yes. It is. But what choice do I have? Scream into the void with all those who also couldn’t keep the words in any longer, scream our ‘me, too’ into the black, or be devoured by it.