Once again, we’re faced with a powerful man who’s used his power to attack and assault women for years without consequence.
Once again, women are being asked to dredge up what were, for many of us, the most painful and humiliating moments in our lives for public consumption.
Once again, I have to ask: Is anything actually going to change?
I wish I could be more hopeful, but I doubt it.
In response to brave women coming forward to reveal Harvey Weinstein’s crimes against them, Alyssa Milano suggested that women could find solidarity in #MeToo:
Hundreds of thousands of women have replied, re-tweeted, launched their own threads, and carried the campaign to other platforms.
I should point out that Milano did not originate the idea. The “Me Too” campaign was begun in 2007 (when Twitter was a baby social media platform, little known outside the confines of sxsw) by Tarana Burke, a black woman, seeking to connect and empower survivors. (Milano, to her credit, gave credit when she was alerted to this about 24 hours later.) #BlackGirlMagic strikes again.
We know the stats about rape: 1 in 4.
When we broaden the circle to include assault (things like groping, unwanted touch), harassment (things like inappropriate conversations and requests from men with power over women), and threats (things like “blow job or lose your job” and like my story from the bus from last week), it’s much higher. When we broaden further to include things like catcalling, it is literally 100% of women. #YesAllWomen
Yes me, and no, I don’t owe you my fucking story. Sorry not sorry. Yes Hecate, and she doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing either.
(I am aware that men can victimize other men, that women can victimize men, and that women can victimize other women. Motes and beams, though, y’all. Motes and beams.)
It’s funny how EVERY woman has been a victim and yet NO men seem to be perpetrators – or even know anyone who is.
I know I’m just a girl, but that math doesn’t seem to work.
Two words for you on that one: Joe Biden.
Rebecca Traister wrote a far more calm, cogent, and smart piece for The Cut than I’m writing here (that may be because I am fucking pissed), where she breaks it all down.
Ole Handsome Uncle Joe just gave a barn burner of a speech in the wake of the Weinstein revelations. He’s been very active in the movement to prevent campus sexual assault. He authored the ground-breaking Violence Against Women Act back in 1994.
He has NOT ONCE admitted or apologized for the way he treated Anita Hill. He is, as Traister points out, complicit. But nobody talks about that.
In 1991, then-Senator Joe Biden led the all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee presiding over the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. When word got out that Anita Hill, a former colleague of Thomas, was willing to speak about how he’d sexually harassed her, Biden made no effort to seek her out or speak to her. He also initially resisted the calls of his female colleagues in the House to delay the vote to hear Anita Hill’s testimony.
Once Hill did appear before the Biden-led committee, she was interrogated about her sexual proclivities, called an “erotomaniac” and depicted as lonely and desperate (then-conservative writer David Brock famously referred to her as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty”). Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, didn’t even object to Senator Orrin Hatch’s suggestion that Hill had copied one of her stories about Clarence Thomas from The Exorcist. Most crucially, however, Biden declined to call three other women who were willing to testify in support of Hill, including Angela Wright, a woman who had worked with Thomas and had previously complained of his having pressured her to date him and his comments about her breast size.
Altogether it was as vivid an example of every dynamic Biden described in his Weinstein excoriation last week: the shaming, the silencing, the ways in which long-embedded attitudes have allowed generations of perpetrators to escape consequences.
In the end, Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court, where he has, ever since, diligently worked on the side of the powerful and against those who might want to challenge that power. He voted against reproductive autonomy. He voted to weaken equal-pay protections. He voted to dismantle the protections of the Voting Rights Act. And he voted in favor of weakening the federal ban on sexual harassment in the workplace — a decision that would make it infinitely more difficult for anyone to speak up in the manner Biden recommended.
As I mentioned above, it’s funny how #YesAllWomen are victims and yet NO men seem to be perpetrators. Somehow I doubt 157 million American women have all been assaulted by one guy who apparently has no friends.
We’ve been shouting about this shit for 50 years or more, and yet here we are.
Just as it’s not on black people to fix us white people’s racism, it’s not on women to fix misogyny, sexism, and the sexual and physical violence that’s done to us EVERY DAY (when you actually work out the math, five women a day murdered by their intimate partners) – that’s on men. And if men aren’t willing to start by looking in the goddamn mirror and asking themselves “How have I personally contributed to the victimization of women, and what am I going to do about that?” this will never be fixed.
(I swear to the Goddess, the first person who responds #NotAllMen to this post is getting turned into a toad, and I am not kidding.)
Image found here.
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