DEBORAH JONES: FREE RANGE
Oh. Ummm. Well, sure. Yeah. Of course. I’m a female human — and so I, too, have been abused and harassed in my life. Haven’t we all — or almost all?
Is putting “Me too” as a status update on social media the way to address it? Is the now-viral hashtag “Me too” the way to respond to the issues raised by American entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose scandals now slime every media platform? Is “Me too” going to heal the insults and injuries inflicted on victims? Does “Me too” counter the silencing of not only the victims, but the censorship of everyone who tried to publicize their stories or the problem?
Maybe? Sorta? I dunno?
I’m no fan of clicktivism. I kinda prefer a friend’s suggestion of the hashtag #FuckHollywood. Because if a mogul is the latest poster boy for male moguls accused of abusing women, Hollywood leads in the commercialization of sexuality, force-fed to us in every ad and entertainment event.
But since we’re all exposing our wounds on social media — yes, the same corporate-owned/publiclytraded- manipulative-commercial-exploitive-abusive-AnythingForProfit-DamnedDangerous platforms we know are infested with spam and abusive trolls — as if Facebook and Twitter are suddenly, magically, sacred safe spaces where we can bare our souls, I have some thoughts.
First, I say respect and empathy are owed anyone sincere who with good intentions adds their tremulous, fragile, scared and so very very brave voice to this social media chorus and and says, in public, “me too.” Bravo to you all.
Second, recognizing I’ll be seen as a #nastywoman by other women and their male champions, I disagree with my sisters slapping down the males daring to post “me too.” Who gave you the right to dismiss the experiences of others? Who gave you ownership of the term? Not me.
Who says women are so weak that we must refuse male victims shelter in the “me too” tent, and so virtuous that we’ve earned that right? Not me.
When I was at my most vulnerable — in childhood, as a student, as a youngster starting a career — those who most hurt me, most of them not directly sexually but physically and mentally, were women. Humans who abuse are always humans with power — power trumps gender, and nobody has more power than adults caring for youngsters, educators over students, or bosses bossing employees. My own experiences with vicious women taught me to never give anyone an automatic free pass on abuse of power. (There were bad men too, but in my own life blessed with good men the bad men were outnumbered by the vicious women.)
Who says the fact that women are rampantly, horribly, constantly abused in our society negates the fact that men are also abused? Not me. And I suggest dismissing abuse of men as a mere numbers game, or ranking types and severity of abuse, is disingenuous.
We all know people who as boys and teens were assaulted by women (and who were too “gallant” to respond). We know boys and men raped by male predators, or assaulted by male bigots because they were gay or the bigot thought they were gay, who were too silenced by shame to respond. (Catholic priests are not the only predators in our sexually messed -up cultures.) Who says that’s irrelevant because, what, they got what they asked for by having a penis, and we women didn’t/don’t? Not me.
Thirdly, complicating Hollywood’s dumbed-down, simplisitic take on human sexuality and power politics, consider the many who do not neatly match the “gynocentric” world, those who will never be easily tagged as male rapists or female virgins/victims because they’re part of our vast lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Who says LGBT people can’t say “me too,” too? Not me.
If the “me too” trend can make everyone more aware of abuse, more sympathetic, more thoughtful, more active in standing up against abuses of all kinds, OK, I’m in. #Metoo. f “#MeToo” helps to fix the problem of sleazy people abusing their power, I’m in. #Metoo.
But I have an nagging a suspicion that “Me Too” is another overwrought outpouring of simplistic emotions, that some are already using it to divide and conquer us, that it will be quickly forgotten as we move onto the next big shiny thing.
Who needs another maudlin, mawkish, unaware, unawoke, First World, hubristic, Hollywood hashtag kerfuffle to distract us? Not me.
Copyright Deborah Jones 2017
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Links and references:
#MeToo Floods Social Media With Stories of Harassment and Assault, by Anna Codrea-Rado, New York Times
What Facebook Did to American Democracy, And why it was so hard to see it coming, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic