Friends, I’m going for it. I have felt the need and I’ve felt it for a long time now. I know, it’s heavy. I know, it’s also Friday. But please, bear with me, because this is too important to ignore.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, and let’s be honest, sometimes especially in our current political climate we wish we did, you’ve heard about the #metoo movement. (Some people call it a moment, but I believe we should all refuse to accept that this is only a moment in our history… A “blip on the radar” so to speak. This is astronomical for us all, and therefore it is a MOVEMENT, whether you like it or not.)
#metoo is the “come together” hashtag, where all of us, women and men, LGBTQ, tall and short, all colors of the rainbow, skinny and curvy alike, can come together and say,
“We are victims of sexual assault/sexual harassment/rape/sexual violence.
WE ARE NOT ALONE.”
Never before, in the history of our world as we know it, has there been a coming together of people from all walks of life who share these enormously awful and despicably unfortunate events or occurrences in their lives. Some (scratch that, probably A LOT of) people can say #metoo for multiple moments in their life, and FUCK that hurts my heart.
I can say #metoo because one weekend when I was in high school a group of my girlfriends and I took the train into the city to window shop and drink too much Starbucks, and a man sat with his wang out, touching himself and staring at all of us the entire ride downtown.
I can say #metoo because I have been on several bad dates, where there was a breaking point. I was almost forced into doing something I didn’t want to do.
I can say #metoo because I’ve been catcalled on the street from moving vehicles, construction workers and pedestrians alike, asked how much, or asked WHY DON’T YOU SMILE MORE, DARLIN’??
I could go on. But I won’t. You get it. (I hope.)
If you cannot claim a moment (or more) in your life with which to identify with the #metoo Movement, that’s ok. (You probably haven’t thought hard enough, but I digress.) You do have options here, though:
- Stand beside to your sisters, brothers, cousins, friends, and relatives who identify with the #metoo Movement.
- Try your damndest to see where they’re coming from.
- Accept what they’ve been through as inexcusable.
- Be there for them if they are in need of support and encouragement.
- Support them in any way that they need you.
- Visit the link above, and see other ways that you can get involved with the movement or support those around you.
Within the #metoo Movement, there have been cut and dry issues (Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, I’m looking at you both and everyone like you.) No argument whatsoever that they did unspeakable things. They acted inexcusably. They should be punished for their crimes. Then we have moments like the Aziz Ansari issue that came up last week. If you haven’t read the original post by babe.net, I really highly recommend you take 10 minutes and read it before reading anymore “response” pieces, or formulating your opinion. Always best to get the information from the horse’s mouth, right?
This issue is literally tearing some of the Feminist Groups I belong to on Facebook into pieces! (Along with Hillary vs. Bernie, Al Franken, and the color and inclusivity/exclusivity of the pink pussy hats at the Women’s March, but these issues deserve ENTIRELY DIFFERENT BLOGS about them, because FAAAACK, why can’t Feminists all unite under the common umbrella that we all should lift one another up with our strength and encourage each other to do what feels right ALL THE TIME, but NOOOO, it’s got to be more complicated and angry than that. Apparently.) But there are quite a few responses I’ve read as well as an extended conversation that I’ve had with Martin, where a few bullet points have popped up continuously, so here I go:
People are not ok with gray. Everything must be black and white for people to be able to “pick sides”. But this is not always possible. This Ansari case falls smack into that gray area, which is why people are literally up-in-arms about it. Here are some of the lines of reasoning I’ve seen so far:
- People can call Aziz out because coercion is a serious thing that exists and it’s a huge problem. Sexual coercion in any form (be it plying with alcohol/drugs, blackmailing, guilting, etc) is abuse.
- People can’t call Aziz out on despicable behavior, because, “Was it really despicable?” and the fact that babe.net reported that Grace never actually said the word “NO.” means that Aziz wasn’t really out of line, was he?
- People can’t fully pull together with Aziz because just because he plays a woke bae in his shows online and in his standup, doesn’t mean he’s not a complete feckin’ arsehole on his own watch when the cameras aren’t running.
- People can call Grace out because we’ve all been on shitty dates, amirite? and we all know about bad sex, amirite? and we all just build a bridge, take a shower and get over it, amirite? (Hold your horses, folks, because someone touched on this in a HUGE way this morning, read it here!!) So Grace should just get over it, amirite? (This is sarcasm. I do not agree here, whatsoever, but I have heard this line of reasoning too many times not to mention it.)
- People can’t call Grace out because no means no. No never means “try to convince me” or “try again in a minute” or “maybe”. No means NO.
- People can’t fully pull together with Grace because all she gave Aziz in resistance were “nonverbal cues” (We all think we might know what that is, right? Wrong. It’s situational, and OH-SO-VAGUE it almost gives me heart palpitations, thanks, babe.net) And asked to “Take it slow, and just chill.” which, really, when you break it down, could mean NO.
It’s a mess. And both Martin and I agree that we don’t know where to stand on any of it. But the important thing is that we can identify all the sides of this (or at least most of them.) And see where there is room for us to improve our current state of society.
The most important thing M and I agreed upon, is that we all must be aware of our own personal mental health, as well as be able to observe potential issues in the mental health of the people we choose to associate with.
FOR INSTANCE: If coercion is being attempted by the person we’re seeing, in the form of plying, manipulation, blackmail, guilting, etc, we need to be able to identify it, call it what it is, and have the courage and strength to SAY NO and LEAVE. The chances that this person will either continue to attempt to coerce you to do things you don’t want to do, or let this coercion spread to other areas of your relationship and life are ENORMOUS.
This all comes down to Mental Health Education, folks. I’ve said it once if I’ve said it a million times.
“And that’s all I have to say about that.” – Forrest Gump
Do you have more to say about it? Have I raised some issues foryou? I’d love to hear your points of view, your questions, your comments. This is my first attempt at really delving into something this deep that I feel so very passionate about, so any thoughts are welcome. ❤
2 thoughts on “#metoo”
We all know women send mixed signals sometimes. Whether because they are uncertain of their own desires, unsure of where or how far they want the relationship to progress, testing the waters, wanting to please but not be seen as a “round-heels”. Add to that all the taboos, norms, restrictions that our parents, society, the law, and religious affiliations impose on us and I do not find fault with our fair sex for some confusion. From my own experience, I find it more likely that we are pressured into having sex that is less rewarding than expected because it is so fraught with expectation. We expect to have great sex with a man that we can hardly talk to and that ain’t gonna happen. We rush into liaisons that are bound to disappoint for reasons that are not even clear to us. Many women have convinced themselves that they can have “casual” sex (an oxymoron if ever there was one) that will fulfill a need that is so much deeper. We cultivate our attractiveness, knowing that the power we have over men is often commensurate with our desirability, but we also expect men to recognize our more enduring attributes, our intellect and character. Until I found the man with the right chemistry, sexual congress seemed like an audition, and I was never sure whether I was the judge or the applicant, voyeur or participant. The Ansari case sounds to me like a failure to communicate and both parties bear the blame for that. For me, good sex means being on the same page. Anything less is just pretend.
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Thank you for getting this out there in your voice.
I’d like to add some thoughts (warning edit: it turned into a wall o’ text):
In addition to mental health concerns, whether we’re considering a potential target or perpetrator (or someone who is both at the same time), another focus I hope comes from all this discussion is the importance of learning and practicing basic social skills from early childhood on, especially social skills that are rarely used in certain contexts (i.e., for high-risk situations).
A reminder: folks with mental illness are generally more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
I think a person could be very solid in terms of generally being mentally healthy and not know how to communicate effectively, especially in high-risk situations. Also, people, both potential perpetrators and targets, may not have learned to recognize certain classes of high risk situations in order to avoid them entirely in the first place.
An example of a potential perpetrator might be a male who normally is polite, reserved, etc., who has recently been cheated on and is very angry about that. He may be at significant risk of projecting that anger physically or verbally against a different woman or otherwise attempt to coerce a woman to re-establish his damaged self-esteem through establishing perceived dominance. ESPECIALLY if substance use is involved. And being encouraged to go out drinking with male friends after a breakup is common in my experience as a man; perhaps it’s similar with women, I don’t know.
I’m not suggesting that the potential for this behavior is ok or justifying it. I am suggesting that there is an opportunity in this example BEFORE something happens: If that male has been given the skill-set and basic training in mindfulness, for him to be self-aware enough to know he’s currently at risk, he will be much more likely to choose not to go out that night or week or month. To choose to seek therapy or write in a journal or go to the gym.
Seems like many of us are just going by the seat of our pants, and are as lacking of self-awareness while being an asshole and hurting people as when we’re day-dreaming at the grocery store.
On the other side of that, people may downplay the risk they put themselves in or not know how, in a practical sense, or feel empowered enough to advocate for themselves when they feel scared or isolated or even in the midst of a crowd when it comes to peer pressure. This statement makes me feel uncomfortable because now we’re skirting on the edge of victim blaming, and I think I’m fairly aware of that.
To highlight my difficulty in processing this, I’ll give a real-world example from a male perspective: We were trained in the Army to always use ‘Battle-Buddies’ or the buddy system, whether in training, combat or out in the community. We were told, where I was stationed, that there were local gangs who preyed on members of the unit I was in because these gang-members would gain prestige if they killed one of us. And there is an inherent imbalance of power between one person with a gun and another person without a gun. So. If a soldier went out alone drinking/clubbing/etc. and got shot by a gang-member, I could say both that what he did put me at risk and might be considered stupid, given that we were aware of the risk. I could also say that I shouldn’t be blamed because people shouldn’t kill other people. For me, both of these things are true at the same time. So am I victim blaming? I don’t know.
It also occurs to me that we, as males, were acculturated to recognize other males as a significant threat as a normal thing. That sucks. I also didn’t get shot.
Last thought: One could be of generally good mental health and commit abusive behavior as a result of lacking skills associated with empathy… listening is a skill, and I think perpetrators who are otherwise not sociopaths might not act in the same manner in situations where the risk of abuse is high (e.g., horny, drunk, or otherwise emotionally aroused) if listening was something they were acculturated to practice on a regular basis. I think that if Ansari had truly heard ‘Grace’ during that date, assuming he’s capable of empathy (I don’t know the guy), his behavior wouldn’t have been so shitty in the first place no matter how much he wanted to get laid that night.
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