Sunday, October 29, 2017

#MeToo, But You Already Forgot

Why some women won't share, haven't shared, or think it's too late to share. 

It's been a little over a week since the incredibly serious #MeToo movement mushroomed across social media. Rapidly. And naturally, much like the also-incredibly-serious #NeverForget movement of 9-11... after about five days, all of the posts regarding the awareness had subsided. We went back to videos of celebrity puppies and photos of drunken Halloween parties.

What started as a single response to actress Alyssa Milano's tweet, #MeToo blossomed into a ploy for awareness regarding sexual harassment and assault. Which -to clarify- spans everything from an objectifying cat-call out a sports car window to full fledged rape. #NoMeansNo. Most of us remember that one. It popped up a couple of years ago and lasted about a week.

The intentions of #MeToo were golden. The entire idea was that if everyone (men, women, children, etc.) who had ever been raped, sexually harassed, assaulted, etc., would post #MeToo on their status, then the public would gain a better understanding of how common this issue really is in today's society. And everyone was asking me, "Since you run an entire blog around this subject of confidence despite hardship, why aren't you saying anything?"

"Just wait," I responded, in order to better prove my point. "Just wait."

And I waited. Waited to see how long the movement would last. The verdict? About a week and a half. Which, I admit, was about five days longer than I thought it would.

It was the talk of the town for nearly two weeks. Women who have been sharing their experiences for years and women who took the opportunity to share for the first time were posting side by side. And it was beautiful. It was brave. It was powerful.

For a week and a half.

The movement will fade. 

The main reason I never posted #MeToo was exactly for that reason. The movement would last for a week. Maybe two. And you're like, "Duh Bethany. It's an awareness movement. It isn't supposed to last forever." I know this. You know this. Everyone knows this.

But it bothers me.

Because these women? Who have actually been sexually assaulted or raped? Their lives are changed forever. It would've seemed like a business strategy. A way to gain traction for my blog to post smack in the middle of the #MeToo movement. And that's not why we're here.

I'm posting now because, like these women, sexual assault has changed my life. Because, whether a sexual harassment victim has been raped in the dead of night and received therapy for seven years or has simply had their butt slapped in the middle of the high school hallway, we are all women who have learned to alter our way of living in order to protect ourselves from this problem. We have learned to cross the street when a man is walking along the same sidewalk. We have learned to park under streetlights, never get gas for the car after dark, and never go in public bathrooms by ourselves. We carry alarms in our purses. Pepper spray on our keychains is so common that they sell them at the grocery store. Some women even carry handbags big enough to hold tazers, guns, and the licenses that accompany these more intense weapons. Self-defense classes are selling out, as well as being offered for a discount at most college recreation centers. The list goes on and on.

It's become a money game! Businesses are thriving on the fact that women need to protect themselves. Pepper spray comes in all sorts of cute colors and shapes. They make cute little taser holsters and they give you a framed certificate when you graduate from a self-defense class. That's an award for the progress made in your 10 classes...and the 180 dollars you paid up front.

The truth is, the movements are important, but any actual progress towards the goal of elimination would "hurt the economy." Because if we didn't need to protect ourselves, these businesses would close, these products would be mostly discontinued, and the entire sex industry stemming from sex trafficking would cease to exist. And we can't have that because we might lose porn. Welcome to the logic of 2017.

"It's too late."
Some women have told me, "It's too late for me to share. The movement is already over."

My darling, if it is your time to be brave, it is your time to be brave. You do not have to share when everyone else tells you to. That literally defeats the purpose of the movement and if they're telling you that you're too late, then they need to remember what the movement is really about.

Some people can't understand that while movements fade, your experience has changed the way you live and breathe. It has changed the way you look at this world. And that does not fade. The crossing the sidewalk, the fear of being alone at night, the flashbacks or the nightmares or the guilt or whatever you experience does not go away. So you share your story when you're good and ready. Don't worry about the ones telling you that it's too late, because they don't get it anyway.

"My story isn't as bad as theirs."
Maybe not. But it's no less valid. Even if some people have it "so much worse than you," your pain is still pain. Your fears are still fears. And your story still has a right to be heard. Even if you just ran to the bathroom crying after someone slapped your butt. Even if it just made you angry that you were objectified out a car window.

You count. And you matter.

"It feels like I'm begging for attention." 
This was reason #2 for me as well. So I totally get it, dear sister. "You're just whining," you will hear, and "You're just blowing this way out of proportion so that you can get someone to tell you you're brave." or "You're just doing this so someone will ask about it and give you an invitation to rant." or "You just want pity."

And while this is usually completely untrue, there are people who genuinely believe this. I won't tell you there aren't. In fact, I've met many of them, and this one came from my own personal facebook.

As if it was all about her. As if she had the right to judge people who felt they should share their story simply because she didn't feel like she needed to. This also happens vice versa, when a person can't understand why others won't share their stories simply because he/she felt called to share hers.

One of my friends countered the comment by saying that she understood where the woman was coming from, but she didn't agree. "Yes, every woman and lots of men have probably experienced it," my friend responded, "so I understand how you would think posting your story is a ploy for attention. But that's the point. To raise awareness. Someone always has it worse than you. And someone always has it easier. But the point of the movement is to show numbers. It's to show how many have been impacted my objectification, harassment, assault, rape, etc."

And, because the woman is an average person in the 21st century, she decided to start a comment fight because my friend didn't agree. "I'm not saying everyone does it for attention," you could practically hear her spat through the font, "but when I see people put it in their status and then someone else comments and then they respond with their story then I feel that is for attention."

Upon reading that, I began to get angry. Basically, she saw someone post "#MeToo" and felt that it was a ploy for attention because someone else asked for the poster's story.

What that sounds like to me... is that a woman posted "#MeToo" but didn't include her story because she wanted to raise awareness for what happened to her but didn't want it to seem like she wanted attention. And then someone else was interested in knowing her story, so she told them. I fail to see how that was a direct ploy for attention.

My friend failed to see it also. "Some people are just more open about their past," my friend responded calmly. "I suppose you'll never know anyone's actual heart behind it... But that's also not for anyone else to judge."

So if you aren't posting for attention, post anyway. The point is to show numbers, not motives. People will always judge you if they think you want attention. But they shouldn't be judging people anyway.

"I'm just not ready to share." 
And that is totally okay.

People who can't understand will try to get you to talk. People who love you and believe that you can influence the world will also try to get you to talk. It doesn't make them bad people, but it's hard to say no when they say something like, "You could change so many lives and reach so many people if you would talk about your story."

Listen closely, beautiful...

It is not your job to heal other people. Especially not before you heal yourself. After all you've been through, you owe yourself a freedom before you set out to free others. It is much smarter to break someone else's handcuffs after you are out of your own cage.

So if you shared a #MeToo statement, thank you. I do not think you were asking for attention. I think you are brave, and strong, and beautiful.

And if you did not share a #MeToo statement, you have no reason to feel any guilt. Or shame. Or fear. No matter how big or small, your pain hurts. Your story is valid. Your life matters.

1 comment:

  1. main purpose of these awareness movements are really amazing and they can do wonders if shorlty after the declination of the movement we forget the cause of it and thats how we neglect ourselves and what we truly should be doing helping out and hearing out and to keep the purpose alive.