I posted #MeToo on Facebook this Monday. Along with nearly 8 million other women who used the hashtag to remember suffering sexual assault and/or harassment.
I didn’t give any details. I didn’t feel the need to then.
And I wasn’t in the least bit surprised when I saw fellow female Facebookers post the same status.
But a couple of days later, the counterarguments are being spun. ‘Why I refuse to post #MeToo’ articles are appearing in the liberal broadsheets.
And now I feel like I have to answer back.
So here goes.
Jessica Valenti (the Guardian), urges us to “list the perpetrators”.
“Why have a list of victims when a list of perpetrators could be so much more useful?”
Yes, I see what you’re saying, Jessica. But what if you DON’T KNOW the perpetrator? What if you have only a face, a first name, or not even that?
That’s all I have. Does that mean my story isn’t useful?
And, by the way, I’d rather not be called a ‘victim’.
Here are some of my stories:
- (can’t remember his name), Manager of Ravel Shoes, Leeds c 1991
Offence: Repeatedly bum-tapped, touched and ‘cuddled’ me (aged 13) when I worked in his shop on a Saturday. I didn’t say anything to anyone.
- Enzo (don’t know surname), Udine, Italy. Now aged 42-45?, 1999
Offence: Pushed me hard against a wall in a nightclub and stuck his tongue down my throat and continued ‘kissing me’ for several minutes while I struggled to get away. Another male ‘friend’ told me to ‘stop playing the victim’ when I told him what had happened. My girlfriends carried on socialising with him. I had to see this guy socially on a regular basis. I stayed out of his way.
- Dino (don’t know surname), bar tender at a bar whose name I can’t remember, Playa de las Americas, Summer 1994
Offence: Abduction. We met in his bar and kissed. He suggested we go to the beach for some more kissing. I was 16, drunk, naive and fearless. He led me up a side street away from the sea. I asked where we were going. He told me he was taking me to his apartment. I said no. He picked me up and put me over his shoulder. I was kicking, screaming, punching. He was laughing. We were almost at his apartment. The steps leading up to the front door were lined with cacti. Their needles scraped my forehead as he hauled me up the steps. Got tangled in my hair. My face was bleeding. There were cactus needles sticking out of my skin. I showed him the blood on my hand. He stopped. Put me down. I ran back to my apartment. I didn’t report him to the police. The next time I saw him he was with another girl. They both laughed at me.
See the problem?
I can’t ‘out’ these guys now. I could have done then. But I didn’t.
It’s too late for any action to be taken against those three, but it’s not too late for these stories to be useful.
Only the shoe-shop manager, could possibly be traced.
I was about to write that ‘but he was the least pernicious of the three’. But, looking back, maybe not.
I was 13. A child. He was in his 40s. That’s sick. If my daughter came home from work with that story, I’d report him to the police.
But would she tell me? I hope so.
Maybe that’s what #MeToo is about. Maybe it can help us all – WOMEN INCLUDED – be more open about sexual harassment.
Next up. Heather Jo Flores (the Independent) directs her ‘Why I didn’t post’ article to the male audience:
“I refuse to post this #metoo thing. Not because I haven’t been harassed and abused but because y’all already know that likely every woman you have ever met has dealt with this crap.
It shouldn’t take some hashtag to remind you.”
First, I didn’t post #MeToo only to remind men about the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual abuse.
I posted it to remind myself.
A good friend of mine (male) told me on Sunday that Courtney Love had outed Weinstein back in 2005. He was so surprised. He was shocked that this guy had been getting away with it for over a decade.
Know what? I was surprised that he was surprised. In fact I told him that I was surprised that the world was reacting to the whole Weinstein story like it was something new. This goes on everywhere. It’s been going on for millennia.
Christ. Donald Trump boasted about groping women and STILL got elected as President of the United States. If that’s not a mandate for powerful men to behave like arseholes, then I don’t know what is.
#MeToo showed me I NEEDED TO BE REMINDED that this sh*t isn’t ok. Because our culture tells us otherwise.
Second, it’s helped me see things more clearly.
I dithered about posting #MeToo.
Because, well, what really had happened to me? Nothing really. I know that I got away with it lightly. Things could have been so much worse.
See that? See me downplaying what happened to me? Like it doesn’t count because it wasn’t ‘so bad’?
If my daughter comes home in years to come and (god forbid) tells me anything like those stories, will I play it down? Accuse her of exaggerating? Playing the victim? Nuh uh.
So the #MeToo thing has helped me see things more clearly.
That means my daughter has a better chance of knowing what is and isn’t acceptable.
Third, men DO need reminding about this.
Because they don’t think about it enough. None of us do.
We’re all just about managing to survive out here.
All the men I am proud to know are too busy and knackered from sharing the load to remember their own names let alone anything else. Working, parenting, cooking, cleaning, putting the bins out. If my husband remembers our wedding anniversary, that’s because I HAVE REMINDED HIM.
That’s our job. WE ARE THE REMINDERS. Deal with it.
The more we talk about it. The more we argue about it. The more we REMEMBER and remind others that sexual harassment and sexual abuse HAPPEN, the more chance we have of changing things.
I posted #MeToo on Facebook this Monday. Along with nearly 8 million other women who have suffered sexual assault and/or harassment. I didn’t give any details. I didn’t feel the need to then.
But I do now.