Yesterday, Alby posted a comment saying, “Nothing on #metoo?” It was a valid comment. Usually I write about these issues, but…
I’m exhausted, and this topic is deeply personal to me. Yes, I am saying, “Me too.” So many times “Me too.”
As I’ve read through the comments on Twitter and articles about the hashtag it strikes me that nothing I read is new. The women’s stories are familiar, many resonate on a deeply personal level for me. Know what else is familiar? The way a group of men feel the need to weigh in on a post/article about women’s experience with:
#Hey, women are awful to men too!
#Men are assaulted too!
#Why aren’t there shelters for men?
#Are you sure you didn’t do something (fill in the blank with whatever victim-blaming excuse moves you)
#Consent is soooo complicated
#Women lie about these things
#An accusation of sexual assault/rape is just as bad – if not worse! – as sexual assault/rape
There’s more, of course, but I can’t even. However, I will point out (for the gazillionth time) that it’s mostly feminists writing about how toxic masculinity hurts men, how men need to be made comfortable is speaking out, how men can be sexually assaulted and how they’re shamed into not reporting it, etc.. Not to mention that most men are sexually assaulted by other men which plays into the shame. I’ll also point out that every one of the above hashtags is about deflection and a way to silence the discussion at hand. (We get this when delacrat writes a comment.)
Jessica Valenti asks the question:
Why have a list of victims when a list of perpetrators could be so much more useful?
After all, there was a reason men in media circles were shaking in their Vans last week: an anonymously created spreadsheet was being passed around, listing “Shitty Media Men” accused of everything from sending creepy direct messages to violent sexual assault.
It was an extension of the existing whisper network we’ve heard so much about in the wake of the Weinstein scandal – women warning each other about potentially skeezy or dangerous men.
Some suggested that creating a list where men couldn’t respond to accusations, or where sexual propositions were listed alongside rape, was irresponsible. Those people missed the point entirely.
Of course the list wasn’t a perfect solution to sexual harassment and assault – because it wasn’t meant to be a solution at all. This list – private until its existence was outed by Buzzfeed – was triage. It was an emergency measure; harm reduction for a community of people who felt they had no other recourse.
Newsflash: That list of men has always existed (and is constantly growing). At work, on college campuses, at churches, in bars, etc. women have always warned other women about these men. And yes, we name names. If a man is worried he’s on the list, chances are he deserves to be.
But what strikes me most about all these hashtags is how every woman knows someone who’s been sexually harassed, but no man seems to know any harasser?
Granted, some of this behavior is deliberately done without an audience, but a lot of it isn’t. And it’s those public incidents where we need men (yes, men) to start calling this behavior out. We need allies. We need men to tell the guy who brags about how drunk the women he took home (so drunk! “like she was dead!” – actual quote, btw) or the woman he’s scoping out to approach at a party because “she’s so out of it” to cut that sh*t out. We need men to call out co-workers who objectify women, or make comments about how everyone knows how she got that promotion. We need men to report what they see/overhear to HR. It doesn’t have to be the women reporting. See something – say something. Silence on these issues is speaking.
Because here’s the truth: All of this behavior isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a men’s issue. And we really need to start treating it that way. We need to stop making victims responsible for the actions of their abusers. We need to stop pretending that there’s something women can do differently, (dress differently, not drink, not walk alone, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.) when that’s the biggest lie out there, and focus on what men can do to change what’s happening. Because I’m not sure I can handle another hashtag.