To the Critics of #MeToo and #IBelieveYou

I’ve seen a lot of reactions to the #MeToo campaign over the last couple of days. Some were heartwarming, some heartbreaking, and others filled me with white-hot rage. Two days ago, I posted my own #MeToo on my facebook with a strange mixture of emotions I’ve yet to pick apart. I’ve seen two family members, and some very dear friends post their own, my heart breaking with every new post. My heart swelled seeing men reply to their friends and family with #IBelieveYou, and was shook again when I saw male acquaintances bravely admit #MeToo.

And then there are the ones who somehow manage to make something already unbearable to begin with even more ugly.

Not only were there the predictable victim-blamers, men throwing angry tantrums about divisiveness between the sexes, and people trying to demean what it is these people were saying, but there were women–who had moments before cried #MeToo!–invalidating men who joined the movement with their own stories of abuse. I don’t know which one pisses me off more.

 

“If we can’t step back and take in the ENTIRE picture—which may or may not resemble our own personal struggle—then we will NEVER find a solution.”

 

So here is my opinion on the subject, broken down by each horrible response I have seen so far:

 

“This is an issue of men preying on women! Men, sit your ass down!” or “I get that men can be abused, too. Or that women can be the abusers. But this is a largely MEN attacking WOMEN problem!”

 

#MeToo is for SURVIVORS of sexual abuse, harassment, and rape. Survivors—not men, not women. It was originally created in 2007 by Tarana Burke, founder of Just Be Inc. as a succinct and powerful way for survivors of abuse to connect with one another, and has evolved into a battle cry over the last week.

This is about people, of any demographic, making their voice heard as loudly as they are comfortable. This isn’t just about men attacking women. The larger issue, which includes all sets, is the predatory preying on the victims. People hurting people, and that pain being considered “the norm.” If we can’t step back and take in the ENTIRE picture–which may or may not resemble our own personal struggle–then we will NEVER find a solution.

 

“This whole movement is STUPID. What the Hell do you think you are going to achieve by posting two words on your facebook page? Do something WORTHWHILE!”

 

This is a perfect example demeaning or dismissing the victims. You have no idea how many years it took some of these people to share that they were hurt. For many, this is the very first proclamation from a childhood of sexual abuse. This is the first time they are letting go of the shame, the guilt, and the fear. They are finding support through recognizing each other.

For others, they have shouted from the rooftops what they had gone through and no one ever believed them. How many years of second-guessing, of shouldering blame for something they had no control over, do you think some of these people suffered? By telling the man or woman who responds to their cry with #IBelieveYou that their support is useless not only demeans them, but it also belittles the overwhelming relief that survivor felt by FINALLY hearing those words.

The hope is that, with a wall of #MeToo’s pouring into people’s newsfeed, it will stop being some far-off epidemic. We can finally see just how close it hits to home. It will no longer be some intangible issue that couldn’t possibly effect my little world. Not only that, but the more people that post it, the more likely it will cajole that one victim into speaking up. You never know how many predators will finally be outed.

 

“The whole ‘Casting Couch’ trope has been a fixture of Hollywood for decades. Why start screaming and crying about it NOW?” or “They knew what they were getting into in that business. They should have found another career if they didn’t like it.”

 

God give me strength on this one…

 

“We should NEVER accept sexual abuse and harassment as being a ‘risk of being in the business’.”

 

Let’s just pretend you aren’t assuming this ONLY happens in show business or to young, naive actresses.

Imagine you are working your dream job, whatever it may be. It’s what you’ve worked your entire life towards. Thousands of dollars in school, classes, resources. Exhausting hours, long commutes, starting from the bottom and clawing your way up, fighting to prove yourself over and over again until finally you land and interview at the company you’ve had your eye on since you decided you wanted to be in that field. Except, when you finally start the interview with your future boss, they aren’t really interested in how hard you worked, your experience, or your ability to do the job. They want something from you if you want the job, a job thousands of others have gotten because of what was on their resumes rather than what was on their bodies. They dangle this job in front of you because they have the power and they know you would do just about anything for the break you’ve been fighting for.

Would you give up everything you lived for or just lie back and take it? If you were young and desperate and did what you had to do, would you not feel shame or disgust for what they put you through? Do they, then, get to just continue their predatory ways because you didn’t speak up right away?

I don’t care if it’s acting, medicine, education, law, or just a babysitting gig. No one has the right to exert power over someone like that. We should NEVER accept sexual abuse and harassment as being a “risk  of being in the business.” To suggest such only lets survivors know that you aren’t someone they can run to for help when these situations arise. Because that is what we are hearing when you say that. We hear you saying what we went through is not a big deal. Which is the very reason many of us take years to come forward—if ever.

Why are we all screaming now? Because we didn’t always have a platform from which to let our voices be heard. Back when the “Casting Couch trope” began, there was no Facebook or Twitter. There were no readily available outlets that allowed us to speak up on a large scale, to find support in one another, and to let us visibly see that we aren’t as alone as we were years ago. We can find one another, we can find help, and healing can finally begin.

 

“If they aren’t willing to name their attackers, then their voice is useless.”

 

Some victims still won’t be able to speak up. Some will remain silent because they still fear the consequences. My heart goes out to them. They are still allowed to count themselves as survivors. If they have the strength to let people know, “Hey, me too,” and not call out their attacker by name, guess what? That doesn’t invalidate them. Who are you to decide which survivor is worth their story and which one isn’t?

Yes, it would be a better world if everyone was strong enough to lay it all out there but this is reality. Some are still very much in their abuser’s lives. Some have close family who have grown up from whatever kind of kid they were when they assaulted or harassed them. Some are too kind to destroy people’s lives, even when those people have hurt them. There is no end to the reasoning behind not naming your attacker, and I for one am not going to harass someone over it or make them feel small because they can’t bring themselves to. They’ve already gone through that once (or more,) I refuse to add to their pain.

 

#MeToo can effect anyone of any gender, orientation, class, or creed. Just because it happens to a male, or a rich person, or a polyamorous person doesn’t make it any less life-altering. Whether or not you have personally experienced sexual assault, your life is likely to have been affected by it. If your girlfriend is afraid to walk put the trash to the curb at night, or your husband is twitchy when it comes to being intimate, if your once-outgoing children shut down out of nowhere, talk to them. Ask them questions. If you find out the worst, will you tell them it’s a risk of being small and helpless? If even ONE predator suffers the consequences of their actions as a result of this movement, I will call that a good day. And even more importantly, tell them #IBelieveYou.

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32nd #Birthday: When Everyone Just Quits Trying?

Let me start this post by saying I am not really a birthday kinda gal. In fact, the only reason I know mine is coming up is because my husband asked me his usual, “What do you want for your birthday?” question. There were two years where I actually forgot my own birthday: One I only figured out the day before because of my work schedule, the other I realized the day of because someone wished me a Happy Birthday.

I don’t know when or why the lack of give-a-damns about the day came about; I just know that eventually, when people started giving me the old “Oooohh someone has a birthday coming up” grin and wink, it would take me a few minutes to realize they were talking about me. It was like I had a finite number of fucks to give on the subject, and each year I spent one of my fucks to blow out the birthday candles.

I think the last time I cared was on birthday number 25, and really that was only because I was excited about the super delicious Costco sheet cake my family bought for me. Not even joking, that shit was delicious.

 

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Probably how I am going to be kidnapped one day.

 

Now, because it drives my husband insane that I can never tell him what I want for my manufacturing-date celebration, I figured I would at least try to help him out a little and browse the web for ideas. What DO you give the woman who has no fucking clue what she wants? I typed “gifts for 32 year old women” hoping to find something that was mature yet fun enough to pique my interest. Because, let’s face it, I’m no spring chicken but I can still cluck with the rest of the hen house.

 

It was like I had a finite number of fucks to give on the subject, and each year I spent one of my fucks blowing out the birthday candles.

 

What… the fuck, guys.

Now I know I’ve quit caring about my own birthday—I mean it happens when you got a bushel of crotchfruit to buy gifts for every year… twice. You stop thinking about what you want for yourself when you have to worry about everyone else—but holy damn. When did 30 mean death of creativity, fun, or adventure? Here are some of the gifts suggested for your 32 year old wife/sister/daughter/friend:

 

A floral phone case.

 

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Show how much you care for your wife by giving her a girly-enough-to-puke phone case that she could have probably bought for herself because, you know, it’s a phone case. In fact, she probably saw this at the store, snorted, and passed it up for the durable Otterbox because she knows she’s a klutz, but now she has to smile and pretend to like it because you tried your best.

If you are dead set on giving her something for her phone, I guarantee she would be way more excited if you payed for a month of service, or an iTunes gift card. Or even an Audible membership/credits because, let me tell you, I burn through books on my phone and they are not cheap.

 

 

Cord Organizer.

 

cord-organizer
…. Really? If she needs a cord organizer, chances are pretty good she won’t actually USE the thing, so it will likely just decay at the bottom of her purse.

If she’s the type to get really irked at cords, maybe get her those Bluetooth headphones she’s been drooling over, assuming she hasn’t gone wireless already. Or, if you want to do something with organization because she’s a mess—er—because she is too busy kicking ass and can’t get anyone to cooperate with helping out at home, maybe pay for a housecleaning or organizing service for the house. She will be speechless, I promise.

 

 

Colorful measuring spoons.

 

colorful-measuring-spoons
Okay so, while these are kinda cute… do they really scream Happy Birthday to you? Yay! You were born! Here is a little reminder that your entire life’s meaning is to cook until you die, and as an added bonus we get to play “will one more item fit in the utensil drawer?!” And I know, I hear you already. “Well my wife doesn’t do all the cooking! I help out, too, because I am super husband!” Which begs the question, if it’s something that is going to be used constantly by everyone in the house, does that really make it her gift? Or just a nice addition to community property?

If you think cooking is the path to her heart, try taking her to a cooking class for couples. Or plan way ahead and save up so that you can spend the week of her birthday taking her to restaurants featuring exotic foods from all over the globe. You know, something that isn’t McDonald’s or Applebees that she doesn’t get to indulge in regularly. Make it a foodie adventure.

 

A Paperweight.

 

paperweight
You have GOT to be kidding me, right? If this is how you think your wife feels, maybe you should ask yourself if there might be another reason there isn’t enough wine. And then you might ask yourself if you really want to arm her with a blunt object perfectly sized for throwing.

If it’s the quote thing that caught your eye, then maybe try to tap into your romantic side and start the month out by slipping her hand-written quotes that remind you of her every day. Yes, I know, this takes a lot of planning but come on. Think of her smile when she sees these little surprises and knows you think about her as more than just a bed heater, personal chef, and TV remote arch nemesis. And here is an added bonus… this costs next to NOTHING. Thoughtful and frugal, my two favorite things.

And the last one because we will be here forever if I keep going:

 

Coasters.

 

coasters
Yes, they actually suggested buying a woman 4 coasters for her birthday. Unless these coasters come with a magically endless refill of wine, tea, or whiskey, you just gave me yet another projectile weapon. There really are no words for this one. I mean, really guys? You look at someone you love and think, “she deserves coasters!”

At this point, there are no “comparable” alternatives. If you cannot think of anything better than a coaster, just don’t even try shopping for her. Hand her some cash or a gift card and drop her ass off at her favorite store. It might be the mall, it might be Target. Just let her do her thing. Coasters, guys. Really?

Now I know there are going to be some people whose first reaction to this blog will be, “You are so materialistic! At least they tried! Get over yourself!” To those people, I will point your attention back to the beginning of this rant. I honestly could get nothing and I would be indifferent to it. But I felt like I needed to help my fellow ladies out because sometimes a woman just likes to feel as though someone gets them. And if you notice, I had suggestions that were affordable or even free for the most part. It doesn’t have to break the bank.

 

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Just make sure the gift is appropriate for the recipient, guys.

 

It’s not about how cheap the gift is, it’s solely about knowing the person you are giving the gift to. By the products suggested in the article, I would think these women receiving them are dead inside, gentrified, no fun, and maybe just flat out broke and can’t buy any of these type of things themselves (I mean, baby oil? Really?) And that’s okay if that’s the case, but I wouldn’t label these as gifts to symbolize the celebration of their existence. If you wanna get them some cool coasters, do it just ’cause you think they’d like them. I’m not saying these aren’t nice things, but… you are supposed to step it up a notch for a birthday. C’mon.

Most women want to know they are seen and heard. That you want to experience things with them. Give them an adventure. Give them something they’ve been drooling over. Give them romance. Show you get them as individuals. Don’t just toss them a 5oz bottle of Beauty Blender cleaner. What?

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