This is supposed to feel validating. I should feel simultaneously horrified and unburdened because this is it, something is finally going to change.
Um…no shit. Maybe I’m wrong to be so cynical, but I just can’t understand why this is news, because this isn’t new.
Boys will be boys, men are pigs, this is ordinary locker-room talk. None of this is a revelation.
I don’t want to say “me too.” I don’t want to say it, because if we have to say it, it means nobody was fucking paying attention.
If there are honestly people out there (“people” = men) who find all of this very startling and upsetting, if there are honestly people out there (“people” = men) who up to this point were clueless as to the pervasiveness of this problem, it means even the good ones weren’t fucking paying attention. And, like the husband who doesn’t understand why you’re annoyed about his dirty clothes on the floor next to the hamper, that just adds insult on top of injury. It’s bad enough that women have to navigate the landscape of a world where men behave terribly with impunity every goddamn day, now it’s our job to inform oblivious (but good!) men of what is literally right under their noses?
Holy shit, not one more thing, please.
I see the solidarity, and I appreciate the allure of that. I see the terrible beauty of rising up as one, united in the claiming of our victimhood, of our survivorship. We sisters, look at us, all of us together, we’ve all been there, we’re not alone. This feels good, standing up together like this.
This is not the kind of solidarity I crave.
The men who would never dream of sexually harassing a woman much less raping her, the ones who are so virtuous and upstanding that they have been able, for decades, to delude themselves into ignorance of a glaring societal inequity, surely, these Good Men will be our allies.
These Good Men will speak up. Our allies will bravely post on their Facebook wall, “I believe you” or “I see you.” We’ll feel so #heard. We’ll feel so #seen. We’ll feel so #validated.
But the Weinsteins and Cosbys and Trumps of the world, the misogynist pissants in the boardroom, on the sidewalk, in our police forces, in our families, they will look at us with our hashtags and impotent rage and turn us into a yardful of clucking chickens. An abusive ex of mine used to say that whenever a group of women gathered together, that is what he saw: chickens, clucking and squawking, making a lot of noise without actually saying anything. A former boss said he hired only women and not men because women are easier to control than men; they don’t argue. So we’re either squawking impotently or looking up into the rain and drowning ourselves.
And the women who suffer from varying degrees of internalized misogyny, they will say: We need to see reality for what it is, not for what we wish it were. The reality is that we know what a man wants when he invites us to his hotel room. We know what a man thinks when we wear revealing clothing. We know the risk we expose ourselves to when we get sloppy drunk. We know that powerful men will attempt to abuse their power in order to possess our bodies.
These women will roll their eyes and say we take everything too seriously. Feminazis, man-haters, whiners, we have it so good and we don’t even realize it. Don’t you know, they will say, that there are still places in the world where women can’t drive, can’t vote, can’t own property, can’t keep their clitoris, and we’re worried about a little catcalling? OMG, *eyeroll*, RELAX.
They will say, unironically (and I copied this directly from my Facebook feed), “I’m sorry, are women suddenly not free anymore? When did THAT happen?” They will say, There are bigger problems in the world, #snowflakes. They will issue forth a groan so loud and sarcastic that some of the Good Men who would have been our allies will dab the sweat from their brows and say, Oh, okay, whew, I thought I was actually going to have to do something.
That was close.
Maybe I’m wrong for being so cynical. Maybe the #MeToo movement really will be the one that thrusts us out of this absurdity once and for all. Maybe it shouldn’t bother me so much that, once again, women bear the burden for making ourselves seen and heard and believed. We’ve been talking about this for ages, and even if we hadn’t talked about it, the everyday inequities are plain for anyone to see so long as they choose to open their eyes and look. We should never have had to say, Oh hey, by the way, this situation is actually bullshit. Not when it’s so goddamn obvious.
So I don’t want to say “me too.” What I want is for the Good Men to take the necessary risks to call out and condemn harassment, misogyny, assault, inequity, when they see it. I want them to come out in droves, like a stomping herd of angry rhinos, not just on social media but in real life, where it counts. Take a fucking risk. Whether it’s a family member or a co-worker or a boss or a bro, call out the inappropriate behavior of your fellow men.
We need you because more often than not, when we speak up, all anyone sees is a squawking chicken. We are at risk every damn day just by virtue of being female, so the least you can do is speak up. We can forgive you for being shocked by how big this problem is, but only if you do something to change it.
Don’t miss Kristen Mae’s latest book, reviewed by Scary Mommy here.