What happens when they profit off #MeToo?
My Facebook page today is post after post of #metoo. Every expression of #metoo is linked to some horrible act committed against the body, mind and/or spirit of the person who posted it. You can feel a heart ripped open just as these two words get typed.
At the same time, there are others whose frustration is palpable, and who which I tend to agree. Sandy Hudson, for example, asked directly why she’s so enraged by the tactic.
When #beenrapedneverreported gathered stories of rape from around the globe, we nodded. We know those stories. The stories we don’t know are still familiar. I often think of some experiences, one in particular posted by one of the hashtag’s founders Antonia Zerbisias.
When #notallmen became a rallying call for men to remind us that not all men are abusers; that not all men are garbage bags or pus sacks or just too drunk to have stopped, the reply was brief and eloquent: #yesallwomen.
I thought saying Yes All Women would be enough to state that, yes, all women have experienced something: abuse, harassment, gaslighting, assault, rape — the list goes on and on and on and on and all I can say is me too.
But #yesallwomen wasn’t enough. As I’ve written before, there are two fundamental problems with these campaigns. 1. They’re hosted on platforms whose only purpose is to profit off of us and our content and 2.They assume that the problem is that we simply don’t know the scale of abuse against women. That, had Harvey Weinstein’s victims spoken up, his abuse would have ended. That, had Seth MacFarland, Courtney Love, Rose McGowan or anyone else had just spoken out louder than they had, it would have ended.
This is the lie perpetuated by fake, liberal progress. That our good fortune or our bad luck is our own, personal fault. That individually, we can make a difference in speaking our truths. In this narrative, the only thing holding us back from the truth is ourselves, our courage, our pride or our intelligence.
We forget that on these platforms, particularly Facebook, we’re products. We’re constantly providing data to corporations who want to target us more specifically or strategically. That when you list your top ten favourite foods, destinations, places to eat or places to sleep, you are generating someone money. The same is true when you are part of a campaign.
Take for example this ad that appeared today in my timeline. Why is Telus, Mercedes and “Paul” from Brittlestar talking to me about whether men are inherently violent? Could it be how much I and thousands of others been talking about sexual assault these past few days? There’s an amazing mirror in targeted ads — a mirror of both our own activates but also, one that distorts based on how we’re received by the corporate world.
Consent is a commodity that corporations trade and cash in on. We consent all the time through our actions, maybe by clicking a box that says “I agree”, by skipping the terms of reference, or by simply using a platform. We agree that everything we say online is available to be monetized.
Except, that’s not consent.
Neither is being harassed when you’re trying to get a promotion. Neither is sexual assault because you’re wearing a short skirt. Neither is being abused because you were drunk. In capitalism, they’re two sides of the same coin.
Liberal democracy uses enlightenment to hide the ways that it ravages us. It tells us that saying me too is a revolutionary act, but imagining a system where every man who is a CEO should be because he’s abusive, is unrealistic or unfair. It says that if we hold onto our narrative, our message or our abuse, we alone can slay the dragons who damaged us in the first place.
The problem with that is that we cant. That justice isn’t individual and that it is only through community will we be able to support each other, find the solutions we desire to build the world that we need.
So while I fully, entirely support all my family, friends and acquaintances today who are saying me too, I also reflect on how we avoid lining someone’s pockets by expressing our inner-most secrets or shame. Hell, you’re reading this at Medium which I am guessing will make some kind of money for hosting this blog.
I have only complicated thoughts to offer. But the clear the wish and desire that we find the places in the real world to talk about these issues. That we can collectively identify and destroy the nodes of the oppression that has made so many of us, nearly all of us, into people who have experienced abuse. And most critically, that we give one another the strength, the capacity and the avenue to peel back liberalism’s lie and show that despite how enlightened the Justin Trudeaus of the world sound, it’s entirely possible that things are getting worse. Or really, it’s true that things are getting worse.
Block traffic. Disrupt meetings. Send letters. Go on strike. Know that being part of a wave of #yesallwomen is power and that they want us to stay online alone.
Do you want to build us a better world?