If you’ve been anywhere near social media since October 17th, I’m sure you’ve seen the literally millions of #metoo tweets and statuses. A flood of women sharing that they too have experienced sexual assault or harassment after yet another very public story of gender violence and abuse of power in Hollywood.
I have long thought of myself as a bit of a feminist, but despite these feminist leanings, I did not participate in the #metoo campaign. And not because I haven’t experienced sexual harassment or don’t think it’s a problem. I didn’t participate because I’m tired.
I’m tired because I don’t understand why people should have to continue to “out” themselves as victims again and again to try and see change. #Metoo is not the first campaign of its kind, and it’s not the first time a public story of sexual violence has provoked a flood of new voices that have bravely said, “me too.” I applaud those who have been courageous enough to share their truth, but another “victim count” will not create the change we are looking for. We need to move beyond framing the story around the overwhelming number of people who have experienced this injustice and towards how we, as a society, continue to enable these types of injustices to happen in the first place.
Another “victim count” will not create the change we are looking for. Click To Tweet
I would like to know what it takes to go from #metoo to, “I won’t and I’ll call out those who do”? And better still, real conversations about how can each of us can do better at dismantling this patriarchal system that reduces women to sexual objects, men to insatiable animals and fosters an oversexualized, rape culture. At some point, we have to move past hashtags and into real and sometimes difficult conversations and action.
I can’t pretend to know the impact of society’s sexualized pressures on men. But I do know that it is no secret among my women friends that we have to be ready to laugh off/walk away from/stand up to or otherwise deal with sexualized comments almost every day. We’ve spoken about the pressure of being aware of our surroundings when we go out at night (and often during the daytime, too) otherwise we might “put ourselves” in an unsafe situation, risking the questions, “How much did you drink?” “Why were you walking alone?” “What were you wearing?” “Why did you look away from your glass?” rather than, “What were they thinking when they chose to attack you?” or “Why did nobody stop them?” And we’ve had discussions about the multiple ways that sexism and gender violence angers, frightens and restricts women in particular and society at large.
Are you having these conversations, too? If not, please do! If so, have more of them! Let’s talk about how “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk” is damaging to everyone. Let’s talk about recognizing gender privilege and working to dismantle it. Let’s talk about respecting people as people and treating them with dignity. And then let’s do it.