Not me, too…
An evolved round of #yesallwomen has been sweeping the socials in the form of women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted posting: #MeToo. Before the MRAs and their broken logic come out in force here, this kind of exercise is valuable specifically because #notallmen harass or assault and therefore do not perhaps understand how much the other bad actors get away with unseen. But despite my solidarity with other women and my passion for annihilating sexism and inequality when- and wherever possible, I can’t play the game.
Because me? Not me. Not so much me.
Now, granted, I’ve been cat-called, certainly, and have plenty of experience with the intentional and unintentional creepiness of men. However, I’ve never been sexually harassed in a workplace that didn’t deal with the offender immediately, nor have I been sexually assaulted. Sometimes this victory seems a miracle of timing and happenstance. I’ve also been lucky enough to work in environments full of other wonderful women (education, publishing) — and have been lucky enough to never catch the eye of a determined predator.
Now, I did not always feel lucky about this absence. When younger, I once felt so desperately unattractive that I might have mistaken harassment for praise, predatory behavior for love. I bought hook, line and sinker that my worth was determined by my appearance and the male attention it brought or didn’t bring. (“So you have a boyfriend yet?” asked every dentist and older relative starting at age 11.) So whether victim to a certain type of behavior or not, no one survives unscathed the our harmful social stew of sex and gender and power — and that includes boys and men. They’re pressured into sexuality in different ways, told they should want sex instead of love and power instead of love and that sex is power. So if we’re raising hands to admit who has been hurt by predatory sexism: Me, too. You, too. All of us.
Bringing down the big figures of harassment and assault is vital, important work. However, what all these “me, too” posts —and all of today’s feminism and other equality-driven movements —hope to change is this entire harmful, power-driven worldview. No small feat, to be sure, but tossing out that toxic stew harms no one but the predators it currently protects and all the lives it continues to make feel less than, not good enough.