Some Thoughts On #Metoo

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.” 
Louise O’Neill, Asking For It

Status’s are filling up everywhere. #Metoo as (mostly) women come forward to say that they have been victims of sexually harassment and assault.

I can not say I am surprised. I am after all a woman and know the bullshit that comes with it. How speaking up is often brought with “can’t you take a joke?” to “you were flirting with him, what did you expect?” Or the biggest one “yes but do you really want to ruin his life??” As if my life and sense of security is so much less important than his.

But in the end it is. Because otherwise I would be allowed to speak out.

That is not to say that men are not victims in this too. And this is thing with rape culture. There are no winners.

As hard as it is for a woman to say she was sexually assaulted it is even harder for a man to come forward to say it. And men are sexually assaulted. Not in the same numbers as women, but anything over zero is not OK.

Boys, however, are sexually assaulted in devastatingly high numbers, and these boys grow up to be men who can not come forward with the demons they battle.

Rape culture ensures that everyone’s voice gets stolen. It tells men they are less than a man if they were assaulted. It tells men to be a man they have to have an almost uncontrollable lust that they can not be held accountable for.

It makes men less and tells them that it is the only way they are more.

Rape culture tells men that not only is it ok to turn women into objects, but there is actually something wrong with them if they don’t.

And it is not just men who perpetuate this. Woman very actively participate. Yes, it is in the shaming of someone who comes forward, but also in much more insidious ways than that. We do it when we teach our boys that the only acceptable way they can exist and be “normal” is if they participate in the toxic soup of our version of what masculinity is.

A woman tweeted a story about how a little boy asked for a butterfly on his face, and his mother responded with anger and the insistence of something more “manly”.

This little boy was shamed for wanting something beautiful.

We are telling our children that boys are not allowed to love beauty without being less.

Is it any wonder then that some of them then grow up and the only way they can interact is to destroy beauty when they see it? When being vulnerable to someone else is so terrifying and identity threatening that they want to smash it?

Is it any wonder then that trans women in particular are vulnerable to violent assault?

We send the message to our boys that violence and anger and taking things they want is how a “real” man behaves. Even when we don’t realize it. Letting his sister shop in the “boys” section but never our little boys in the girl section. She can have a play gun but we don’t let him have a make up kit. Because we may prefer our girls girlie, but we can accept it when they are a “tomboy”.

But we then tell our boys that their sisters are less if they are not allowed to want what their sisters have. Because being a boy is normal. Girls are allowed to be both. But being a girl is less. And we don’t want our precious sons being less.

Or, in a place of absolute love, we don’t want to leave them vulnerable to what will happen to a boy who is allowed to be himself and is allowed to like what he likes without bringing his 3 year old non existent sexuality into it.

He will be mocked and shamed and bullied by all the others who are being taught this toxic model either through love for fear for what happens otherwise or through belief that this is what a man is.

Sexual assault is NEVER ok. Men are not on the same level as animals. In fact, we have less sympathy for animals acting out their nature than we do for men who speak out against rape culture. We label them as “sensitive” and “feminine”. Which is a quick way to remove their power and shut them up.

It is 2017 and we have an open sexual predator in the position of the president of the United States of America.

But there is one thing I truly hope.

That now there can be no denying of rape culture.

And we can finally start talking about how to change it.

Sherrie McCarthy is the creator of the Creative Mermaids. A site that helps creatives define life on their own terms and challenge what they have been taught as they fight for the vibrant life they deserve.