As a woman alive in the world today, the #metoo movement has evoked many emotions. Whether you identify as victim, survivor, ally, or perpetrator, the results are undeniable. We are suffering. We have got to do better.
Hi, I'm writing because I'm having issues with this #metoo thing. Let me explain. First off, I'm glad it's happening, and it breaks my heart to see how many women I know that have suffered. I am a woman, and I have been wanting to show solidarity, but at first I didn't feel like I could post #metoo because I haven't really had any terrible experiences. However, as I read other stories and sit with it, I keep remembering seemingly small instances that I've brushed aside because they weren't "that bad" but have probably added up. For instance, the time my friend got drunk and corned me in the bathroom to grope me, or the guys in the car next to me that asked me to flash them. Part of me feels that since I survived these (I wasn’t raped) and wasn't necessarily scarred, that it would be inauthentic to post #metoo. What are your thoughts on this? #Metoo?
Dear Me Too
The #metoo movement has been stirring up a lot for many of us. It has been truly staggering to see the overwhelming response, and even though it is deeply disturbing, it is an important message.*
I want to take a moment to unpack what is arising for you right now. The truth is, you have suffered from living in this rape culture. And just because you “survived” these encounters, it doesn’t lessen the impact. You said that these instances have probably “added up” and I agree. The insidiousness of the “smaller” assaults is that while they may not scar you individually, they perpetuate a sense of being unsafe. When we are victimized and objectified, we learn to move through the world always on alert, watching our backs for danger, like prey. This is no way for a person to live, but I would guess that at least 50% do (most women, as well as POC, trans, and other less privileged folk).
The deeper issue here, to my mind, is the fact that you would dismiss your own experiences. You have become, probably out of necessity, calloused to harassment. It is often safer for women to brush things aside, rather than confront the perpetrator, risking further abuse. We are given the message that we were somehow responsible- we should dress differently, drink less, keep to ourselves, stay in groups, etc, or we deserve what we get. Is it any wonder that less than 1/3 of assault cases are reported? The truth is, you have been assaulted, and the very notion that you would somehow feel that your experiences are minor is evidence that you are living in rape culture. It is bad enough to be dismissed by others, but this self-dismissal feels defensive, a way to cope with commonplace injustice.
The truth is, only you can determine if what you have experienced over your lifetime as a woman has been traumatic, inhumane, or derogatory. There is no shame in posting #metoo, it is not a contest, it is a wake up call. That said, there are plenty of women who don’t feel safe enough to publicly share their experience, and others who feel that the burden of proof should not continue to fall to the victims (there is a call for a counter-movement of men sharing #itwasme, to claim responsibility for their part in the problem). Each person is entitled to their opinion, and the most important thing is to feel that you are acting in a way that is authentic to you. Take a moment to consider why you feel that you must minimize your experiences, and in the end, choose the option that feels right.
*If you are somehow unaware of the #metoo movement, educate yourself. In short, it asks women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment to post #metoo to their social media profiles, in an effort to bring awareness to the enormity of the problem.