Yes, You Too
Guys, we need to talk about the #metoo hashtag. Every. Single. One. of my best friends has posted #metoo at some point this weekend. And with each one, my throat closed a little, my ears burned, and something broke a little more inside. I love these girls. These girls are my LIFE. They are talented, and beautiful, and wonderful, and full of agency. They live their lives as ambitious, driven, opinionated women. The last of them just shared her #metoo status.
What the fuck.
It is… the most heartbreaking, demoralizing, tragic thing I have encountered in my lifetime. These girls are different ages, in different locations, with different backgrounds and different personalities. There is no commonality in how they dress or how they act; two things that “cause” harassment, rape, and assault. You know what actually causes harassment, rape, and assault? You know who actually is responsible for the #metoo hashtag? Harassers, rapists, and assaulters. Relatives, significant others, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, strangers.
Now, I know a lot of guys I’d consider allies, feminists. They are good guys. They put up with me, which, on an individual level is kind of a lot. They listen. They validate. They encourage. Their timelines are also filled the fuck up with #metoo this weekend.
I’m sick of it. Women are trying so hard to solve this problem; raising awareness, showing solidarity, coming together. Women are not the problem. The problem is the systemic, built-in parts of society that allow this oppression and dehumanization to occur. I was assaulted; I was raped. No; someone assaulted you. Someone raped you. There is a person behind those actions. A person who didn’t have their choices taken away. “Violence against woman” is bad. People are committing this violence. People who have agency, and make choices. The problem is not that harassment is still happening to us; the problem is that people out there are harassing. The hashtag trending right now is #metoo; and it’s important to raise awareness and give the personal face to this problem. But it shouldn’t fucking matter that you’re a daughter or a mother or a girlfriend or a friend. The hashtags that should be trending right now are things like #illdobetter, or #letsstartspeakingup. #menstepup . Give me anything.
I need you guys to start doing more. I need you to start speaking when its just you and your guy friends about how big of a problem this is. I need you to start standing up for women when they’re being walk-of-shamed by anti-abortion protesters when they’re just going to pick up their birth control. I need you to stop voting for people who want to implement policies that harm women. I need you to start making this your problem. Women are attempting to change a system that makes it hard for them to get in the system in the first place. Us posting #metoo is not going to change things. You, calling out other guys is. If there’s a noted date raper in your group, stop doing video game time with them. If there’s somebody abusing their significant other, do not excuse yourself from doing nothing because “their relationship is their own business”. If you see something, say something. When you know something, do something.
We are not the problem. We are not the problem; and yet we are expected to fix it. We can’t force someone to suddenly realize and accept and be okay with all the non-cis-men people being equal people too. That’s not an us problem. It’s a them problem. We say things like “We’ll teach our boys to be better,” and we are, and that’s great, but why the fuck do we have to wait till then? I fucking deserve it now. Every woman I know does. It is 2017 and I still can’t go a week without hearing about some random guy groping someone. Those are your bar buddies, your office mates, your friends. Maybe that’s even you. Chances are you not only know women posting #metoos, but men responsible for them.
As of right now, not a single guy has reacted to my #metoo post. It has been all women. I appreciate their solidarity. The truth is I need their support. But where the fuck are you? Look around you. For each #metoo there is at least a second person; the person responsible. The person who chose to put their own agency and value above someone else. The person who presumed that I am lesser or unequal, that I could be treated like an object. My voice could be ignored; disregarded. That person is the one who should feel devalued and shamed. That person is the one you should be having trouble reaching out to or acting like things are normal. That is the person you should be ignoring. When you don’t deal with things because you feel awkward or uncomfortable or think it will handle itself, you condone the actions of the person. It wasn’t important enough for you to step in. It wasn’t convenient. It didn’t apply to you. Whatever it is, you chose to side with the person who is assaulting, harassing, raping, oppressing, controlling, demanding, devaluing, dehumanizing. You doing nothing won’t prevent another #metoo. Whether you get involved by volunteering to escort women to their reproductive care appointments, step up the next time you’re at a bar, check in with someone who posted #metoo and see if they’re okay, or call out an old friend for past shitty behavior, you are helping. Because you need to help too.