The Coming Storm: #MeToo

The last piece I wrote was prior to the #MeToo hashtag, which has put a gigantic mirror, so large that it cannot possibly be ignored and showing atrocities so deep that we cannot remain unmoved, up to our nation and, again, the SWMs have been found wanting. This is obviously making a lot of men in that designation uncomfortable, either because of the innate ugliness and shocking magnitude of it (more on this, but real talk, I also personally feel incredibly stupid and deeply shamed for not realizing and fully comprehending the sheer scope of this horror until now) or because of latent guilt. It should be making all men uncomfortable and hopefully so uncomfortable that we assist wherever and however we can so that the shit stops, that we help provide whatever necessary motivation to end forever these reprehensible, disgusting, demeaning actions and thought processes.

This piece is not about me and when I mention that I think the British word “gutted” was invented for this exact thing I’m feeling, where it feels like my heart is being forcibly ripped from my chest, this is just from me reading, distantly. I can’t imagine what anyone who had that happened must be going through, but even in reading, I feel in myself a strong sense of betrayal and loss in amidst repeated bouts of fury. I post this description of myself just for frame of reference. I’ve never committed sexual assault or manipulation, never considered personally either doing it directly myself or being a part of it or even tolerating something so vile nor have I ever been on the receiving side.

It has, however, happened, I’m sad to report, to more than a few females of my acquaintance and my response when it came to my knowledge has always been to immediately assemble a hunting party. This often served as a point of frustration as many, perhaps most, didn’t want to press in that way or sometimes at all. From my POV, this was letting it go, something I was highly reluctant to do, even if they didn’t want me pursuing it, but as I mentioned last piece, some come to wisdom later than others and I eventually understood they just wanted the nightmare over and didn’t want to relive it further. I’m bad at feeling powerless in general, but here, there was not a choice. It was out of love and respect that I wanted to settle the score for the defilement, but I couldn’t also go against their direct wishes…

We see a lot of indications of a sick society and one of the biggest is victim-blaming and in some of these cases, it was the victims themselves capitulating to diseased and prevailing thought of the area, the community and the country at the time, taking that inside and blaming themselves, at least to a degree. I believe psychologically there is an immediate cataclysm that occurs attendant to these attacks, particularly if there are additional exacerbating elements of criminality, such as physical assault and battery, threats with or use of a weapon, such as with a firearm or being drugged. There is also shame, because society has cast females in such a weird and skewed position that being the victim of a sexual attack is inevitably twisted into “loose/slutty” behavior.

And we’re not done with witch hunts yet, apparently (though actual predators are attempting to twist and subvert the narrative here, predictably). We all know how witch hunts ultimately turn out and if not, Carl Sagan published a list, written by Friedrich von Spee, in Sagan’s Demon-Haunted book, which bears re-upping (ellipses mine). This dates from 1631. I invited you to find what is wrong or outdated, if anything and leave you to decide for yourself what is relevant and applies still today (if it seems overly long, skip ahead to #10):

1. Incredibly among us… are popular superstitions, envy, calumnies, backbiting, insinuations, and the like, which, being neither punished nor refuted, stir up suspicion of witchcraft. No longer God or nature, but witches are responsible for everything.

2. Hence everybody sets up a clamour that the magistrates investigate the witches — whom only popular gossip has made so numerous.

3. Princes, therefore, bid their judges and counsellors bring proceedings against the witches.

4. The judges hardly know where to start, since they have no evidence [indicia] or proof.

5. Meanwhile, the people call this delay suspicious; and the princes are persuaded by some informer or another to this effect.

6. …to offend these princes is a serious offence; even clergymen approve whatever pleases them, not caring by whom these princes (however well-intentioned) have been instigated.

7. At last, therefore, the judges yield to their wishes and contrive to begin the trials.

8. Other judges who still delay, afraid to get involved in this ticklish matter, are sent a special investigator. In this field of investigation, whatever inexperience or arrogance he brings to the job is held zeal for justice. His zeal for justice is also whetted by hopes of profit, especially with a poor and greedy agent with a large family, when he receives as stipend so many dollars per head for each witch burned, besides the incidental fees and perquisites which investigating agents are allowed to extort at will from those they summon.

9. If a madman’s ravings or some malicious and idle rumour (for no proof of the scandal is ever needed) points to some helpless old woman, she is the first to suffer.

10. Yet to avoid the appearance that she is indicted solely on the basis of rumour, without other proofs, a certain presumption of guilt is obtained by posing the following dilemma: either she has led an evil and improper life, or she has led a good and proper one. If an evil one, then she should be guilty. On the other hand, if she has led a good life, this is just as damning; for witches dissemble and try to appear especially virtuous.

11. Therefore the old woman is put in prison. A new proof is found through a second dilemma: she is afraid or not afraid. If she is (hearing of the horrible tortures used against witches), this is sure proof; for her conscience accuses her. If she does not show fear (trusting in her innocence), this too is a proof; for witches characteristically pretend innocence and wear a bold front.

12. Lest these should be the only proofs, the investigator has his snoopers, often depraved and infamous, ferret out all her past life. This, of course, cannot be done without turning up some saying or doing of hers which men so disposed can easily twist or distort into evidence of witchcraft.

13. Any who have borne her ill now have ample opportunity to bring against her whatever accusations they please; and everyone says that the evidence is strong against her.

14. And so she is hurried to the torture, unless, as often happens, she was tortured on the very day of her arrest.

15. In these trials nobody is allowed a lawyer or any means of fair defence, for witchcraft is reckoned an exceptional crime [of such enormity that all rules of legal procedure may be suspended], and whoever ventures to defend the prisoner falls himself under suspicion of witchcraft — as well as those who dare to utter a protest in these cases and to urge the judges to exercise prudence, for they are forthwith labelled supporters of witchcraft. Thus everybody keeps quiet for fear.

16. So that it may seem that the woman has an opportunity to defend herself, she is brought into court and the indications of her guilt are read and examined — if it can be called an examination.

17. Even though she denies these charges and satisfactorily answers every accusation, no attention is paid and her replies are not even recorded; all the indictments retain their force and validity, however perfect her answers to them. She is ordered back into prison, there to consider more carefully whether she will persist in obstinacy — for, since she has already denied her guilt, she is obstinate.

18. Next day she is brought out again, and hears a decree of torture — just as if she had never refuted the charges.

19. Before torture, however, she is searched for amulets: her entire body is shaved, and even those privy parts indicating the female sex are wantonly examined.

20. What is so shocking about this? Priests are treated the same way.

21. When the woman has been shaved and searched, she is tortured to make her confess the truth — that is, to declare what they want, for naturally anything else will not and cannot be the truth.

22. They start with the first degree, i.e., the less severe torture. Although exceedingly severe, it is light compared to those tortures which follow. Wherefore if she confesses, they say the woman has confessed without torture!

23. Now, what prince can doubt her guilt when he is told she has confessed voluntarily, without torture?

24. She is therefore put to death without scruple. But she would have been executed even if she had not confessed; for when once the torture has begun, the die is already cast; she cannot escape, she has perforce to die.

25. The result is the same whether she confesses or not. If she confesses, her guilt is clear: she is executed. All recantation is in vain. If she does not confess, the torture is repeated — twice, thrice, four times. In exceptional crimes, the torture is not limited in duration, severity, or frequency.

26. If, during the torture, the old woman contorts her features with pain, they say she is laughing; if she loses consciousness, she is sleeping or has bewitched herself into taciturnity. And if she is taciturn, she deserves to be burned alive, as lately has been done to some who, though several times tortured, would not say what the investigators wanted.

27. And even confessors and clergymen agree that she died obstinate and impenitent; that she would not be converted or desert her incubus, but kept faith with him.

28. If, however, she dies under so much torture, they say the devil broke her neck.

29. Wherefore the corpse is buried underneath the gallows.

30. On the other hand, if she does not die under torture, and if some exceptionally scrupulous judge hesitates to torture her further without fresh proofs or to burn her without her confession, she is kept in prison and more harshly chained, there to rot until she yields, even if it take a whole year.

31. She can never clear herself. The investigating committee would feel disgraced if it acquitted a woman; once arrested and in chains, she has to be guilty, by fair means or foul.

32. Meanwhile, ignorant and headstrong priests harass the wretched creature so that, whether truly or not, she will confess herself guilty; unless she does so, they say, she cannot be saved or partake of the sacraments.

33. More understanding or learned priests cannot visit her in prison lest they counsel her or inform the princes what goes on. Nothing is more dreaded than that something be brought to light to prove the innocence of the accused. Persons who try to do so are labelled troublemakers.

34. While she is kept in prison and tortured, the judges invent clever devices to build up new proofs of guilt to convict her to her face, so that, when reviewing the trial, some university faculty can confirm her burning alive.

35. Some judges, to appear ultrascrupulous, have the woman exorcized, transferred elsewhere, and tortured all over again, to break her taciturnity; if she maintains silence, then at last they can burn her. Now, in Heaven’s name, I would like to know, since she who confesses and she who does not both perish alike, how can anybody, no matter how innocent, escape? …why have you rashly hoped? Why did you not, on first entering prison, admit whatever they wanted? Why…did you wish to die so many times when you might have died but once? Follow my counsel, and, before undergoing all these pains, say you are guilty and die. You will not escape, for this were a catastrophic disgrace…

36. When, under stress of pain, the witch has confessed, her plight is indescribable. Not only cannot she escape herself, but she is also compelled to accuse others whom she does not know, whose names are frequently put into her mouth by the investigators or suggested by the executioner, or of whom she has heard as suspected or accused. These in turn are forced to accuse others, and these still others, so it goes on: who can help seeing that it must go on and on?

37. The judges must either suspend these trials (and so impute their validity) or else burn their own folk, themselves, and everybody else; for all sooner or later are falsely accused and, if tortured, all are proved guilty.

38. Thus eventually those who at first clamoured most loudly to feed the flames are themselves involved, for they rashly failed to see that their turn too would come. Thus Heaven justly punishes those who with their pestilent tongues created so many witches and sent so many innocent to the stake . . .

This was in reference to the spate of witch hunts in Germany at the time, but we can see parallels here. As I’ve observed about the General Election of 2016, the USA is clearly more sexist than racist and the country is and was unquestionably founded on being prejudiced against any color not white on a deep institutional level. However, if there is one thing that can make the skin tone factor weigh less, it is by direct comparison to either a homosexual or woman.

So here’s the hook. We, as a male gender, can do a few things. We can teach our sons that there are some things that can’t be taken back or undone, ever and a violation of that order is absolutely abhorrent and unacceptable, always and will never be tolerated. We can teach our daughters value and worth and self-respect and dignity and if they wind up in a situation where even that base is not enough, we can also teach them physical self-defense, with the knowledge they can rest easy using it knowing they have our full backing and support, which needs to extent to this country. It is dark times for that, but a problem can’t be solved until it is understood, at least in scope. The #MeToo hashtag, whatever else has been incredibly illuminating in that regard. We can teach our children generally to start treating each other better. Not doing so is either a root or a large part contributing cause to many of our current ills and if people stopped treating other people like shit, it would be considerably improved.

We can also step back and support women and POC taking the lead politically. I firmly believe that this would be a far different and better place, were I installed as King Overlord, naturally, but in the non-dream world, after the despicably and heinous actions of 2016 in the General Election, have decided instead to do what I can to support female and/or POC candidates, to the extent possible. We can do that. We can read the stories and not turn away from the awfulness, from that sheer evil, read them, keep them, learn from them and vow to do better. We can stop ignoring or treating it light or sweeping it under the rug. We can stop giving that shit a pass. We can care and acknowledge the stunning amounts of bravery for someone to put themselves out there like that and re-live such awful trauma and we can amplify.

As to the incidents attendant to that incredible hashtag…if you are a #MeToo hastag poster, you tell me. You want me to listen, I’m there. I believe you and believe in you. I probably can’t fix whatever happened but I can support you. I can’t make it all better or all go away, but I’m sorry it happened to you and I truly wish it didn’t. This country failed you and it continues to fail others. It is not your fault. You didn’t deserve it and deserve better now. You want me to join #ROSEARMY, I’m there. Women have shown their power, en masse this weekend, both with the #WomenBoycottTwitter on October 13th and now, with the #MeToo hastag. You are the strength, not me. I will be your ally, backing you all the way in these and other demonstrations. You be the guidance and I shall be your follower. We can face this head on and be the force for change so that no one ever need experience such wretched, degrading, contemptible, loathsome and lowdown acts. The culture that allows 99% of perpetrators to get away with it needs to end and it will. It should never have existed and cannot stand. Fight now and keep fighting until there is no longer a need. I’m right there with you and I’m not alone. Neither are you.