A Hot Take on #metoo

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Author’s Note: the #metoo movement started with activist Tarana Burke ten years ago.

When I woke up this morning, my very first thoughts were thoughts of gratitude. “Thank gods,” I thought to myself, “for the freaks and geeks. For the loser, weirdo kids that make it out of tumultuous teen years alive, for the broken, shattered people who paste ourselves back together with the psychic equivalents of gold and lead.” Somehow, somewhere along the way, we learn to find each other, and we – the repaired broken – help each other out. Without these other like-minded humans, the people who are repeatedly hurt, broken, damaged, these people who rise out of bed every morning  regardless… without them, there would be no road map, no reason to think that I and I alone feel just how awful we are to each other on the regular.

It’s Monday, though, so I do not have the luxury of pondering all of the fabulous rag doll people that I know; the people stitched together after years of wear and abuse. Instead I do what everyone else hustling for a 9 – 5 does; I get up, perform some personal maintenance, sustain my fleshprison with drink, and get out the door. But before that, because I am a child of the 21st century, I blearily tap a few buttons on my cell phone, and look at what has happened to my friends in the 12 hours since seeking the refuge of my bed the night before.

I am greeted with a chorus of “me too”s.

And I know, because I do not live under a rock, that the “me too”s are signaling damage. A crack, held together with gold or lead or putty or spit and sometimes gum.

So many “me too”s. They come from generations of humans, from performers and writers and artists and athletes, they come from some of the feistiest women I know and some of the quietest. They come from femmes, from butches, they come from humans I know across the gender and sexuality spectra. My Facebook feed is, at present, a constant litany to damage.

The me toos? Those hurt. But what hurts just as much is what follows. The statement that everyone who has experienced sexual harassment or assault should display their carefully pasted together cracks as some kind of fucked up collective performance art so that the people who are causing the damage can finally understand the magnitude of the problem. And knowing the magnitude, maybe then (only then!) can we address it.

Fuck that. If you don’t know, it is because you haven’t been paying attention.

You have not been paying attention to the baby onesies that encourage you to think of girl-children as marriage fodder, an asset that needs protecting from plunder, her father’s most precious object. You have not been paying attention to just how early we start sexualizing girl children (look at the number of AFAB children sporting bikini tops at the beach, never mind that there are no boobs to cover).

You have had the luxury of not being told that you cannot wear makeup because it is “for attracting men” and you are too young for that (age 8).

You’ve never had a man notice and comment on your bra – or lack thereof (ages 12 through always).

You have had the immense luxury of not being followed by strange cars filled with men who try to get you to ride with them as you walk down the street with your friend after dark after you get Slurpees, because you are too fucking young to even think about booze (age 13).

You have never been cornered in a dark room, empty of any human but you and the grown-assed adult man who teaches you. You’ve never had someone with that kind of authority place his hands on your shoulders and give you a massage as you crouch before him because he caught you mid-task. You’ve never had to listen to that old, creepy, butt-of-the-joke man shower you with praise as you desperately try to work out how to extract yourself, because you’re away from home and you’ve got an hour long gap in your schedule and you’re suddenly EXTREMELY AWARE that literally no one will notice your absence (age 17).

You have had the immense fucking luxury of no one ever wandering up to you when you are having a good time with your friends – humans you actually know – and just pressing their desire into your thigh because you’re there, right? You’re out in public, which carries certain risks, you know? (age 20)

You have never found yourself in a situation that made you think “how the hell did I get here?” Because all of the soft no’s that you’ve been giving have been ignored, but you’re also preeeeeeeeeetty sure than anything firmer than a giggle and a “please don’t” will end with someone getting hurt. That someone is likely you.

You have had the enormous luxury of never being cornered in a dingy basement by a man literally twice your size and being told you are “fuckable”. You have never had the experience of then complaining to the one person in the organization that outranks that man and being told that the problem here is cultural – that you’re hearing it wrong, that all men from culture X are like that.

You have never, not even once, confided your story of “what the actual fuck” to a friend only to hear “o, yeah, so-and-so is awful, this is what happened to…” And you have not heard that story, my dude, because there has never, not once in your life, been an instance in which one of the every single non-cis-het-man you have ever known in your life has felt safe enough with you to tell you these stories.

So yeah. Me too, I guess. At this point in my life I just straight up assume that everyone has a “me too” story. I am relatively lucky, in that I was not terribly appealing to gross dudes as a younger woman, and so escaped relatively unscathed.  I am also lucky in that I inhabit no intersectionalities of oppression, which means that my experiences of grossness were mitigated by the privileges that I was fortunate enough to be born into.

But here’s the thing. I do not need all of the humans who have been damaged by a powerful, entitled human to perform their hurt for me. I do not want a constant fucking reminder that we live in a society so fucked up that it is considered normal for powerful, entitled (especially but not exclusively) men to be gross at women. And honestly? The people who do need to hear it? They’re not gonna listen anyway. Because what, exactly, is critical mass? When, exactly, is enough enough? How BIG does the problem need to be before we fucking well care?

So yeah. Me too, I guess. Always already #metoo, because there does not exist, so far as I know, a way of being a woman and avoiding this shit (this was confirmed by my therapist, who, when I complained about the harrowing nature of navigating patriarchy, literally told me that I needed to build up the defense mechanisms, armour, and danger assessment tools that most women develop IN THEIR TEENS. I cried that day, too). And all of you beautiful humans, holding your cracks together with whatever means you have: I see you. I hear you, I love you, and I believe you. Please know that if you need me, I am here, and I have putty and a spatula. And you can have my hugs, my affection, whatever wisdom I have to give and whatever tools are at my disposal, all without performing your hurt for me.

Renée has been writing since she could hold a pen and put a sentence together. Trained in the humanities, she lays claim to the title armchair sociologist, and is fascinated by human relationships. Her favourite pastimes include ruminating on the horrors of the material plane, making yarn art, reading just about everything she sees, dancing, and inventing wild stories about strangers based on their interactions with other humans. She lives in Ottawa, Canada with a dynamic feline duo and her gentleman friend, and feels firmly about the oxford comma’s place in this world.



16 Responses to “A Hot Take on #metoo”

  1. Kazoogrrl says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I was telling my partner that for me the litany of #metoo in my social media feed was not triggering, but instead crushing as I felt waves of rage, sadness, and frustration.

  2. jenavira says:

    This is so good and so true. While it's true that there are good and well-intentioned men who just don't see things unless they're shoved in their face like this, is the suffering of all the people who already know this, who don't need to be reminded that the world is a garbage place, really worth the moment of shock those men will have before they forget all about it again?

    (I haven't posted a #metoo story, not because mine is so painful but because mine feels so trivial and common – like yours, really. But also because, christ, I do not need to add to the pile of misery going on right now. Why is it that so many people can be so hurt but we all have to bare our souls and show ourselves bleeding and it still won't change anything?)

    • Kazoogrrl says:

      I've had friends, whose experiences are more on the harassment end of things, say that it's dredged up memories of incidents they had forgotten or tried to dismiss as being "not that bad".

      • jenavira says:

        Yeah. I mean, I hadn't thought about the guy in the B&N science fiction section when I was twelve for years. (And he was just trying to flirt! "Just," like that's okay. But it really is the weight of so many incidents that makes it so bad.)

  3. vladazhael says:

    So, sooooo well done.

    I had a similar reaction to all the #MeToo. Like… yeah, no shit? All of us? Obviously? I thought we knew this? I have had exactly one friend voice her support for the whole thing (compassionately, eloquently, lovingly) and say that she herself has never had anything #MeToo worthy happen to her, and *that* is the one account I have a hard time believing.

    Also, for my part, I am held together by JB Weld.

    • redheadfae says:

      I have one friend who says she's never experience it either. But she also stated that in reading some of the "me, too" stories, she really didn't think of them as harassment. Hm.
      Fucking titanium JB Weld, yeh.

  4. Absotively says:

    Thank you for writing this, it's really good.

    Someone on my Facebook feed shared this article, which is a lot more flip and maybe even less optimistic but kind of covers how I feel about the whole thing:

    Woman Posts Another Facebook Status in Hopes That Men Will Learn to Be Human Beings

    I haven't posted #metoo yet. I have been pretty lucky in regards to sexual harassment and assault, but I mean, I'm in my thirties. I live in this world. Yes, of course I've been harassed.

  5. CleverManka says:

    Thank you so much for writing this and sending it to me to post here. It's horrific to know that for so many of us this is just part of growing up. Common enough that "yeah, me too, I guess" is not an outrageous statement.

  6. pseudonymica says:

    Thank you so much Renee for writing this, Manka for posting it, and the community for being here to share it. ❤

    The whole thing started bothering me a little at first and then snowballed into a complete (though almost entirely inner) freakout. I didn't "me too" because I was uncomfortable with it, but then I felt guilty. So I commented within comments to a couple friends who expressed similar thoughts. I must have cracked sooner than I realized because I referred to my first trauma – which involved a very minor incident when I was 5 or 6 that traumatized me because the parents of the teenage abuser reported ME for making things up and I got to experience the joy of a social worker and a hearing centered around accusing me of lying. I never tell anyone about that (Although I'm sure I've told my boyfriend and when I mentioned it this week because of this mess he was like "you never told me that!" Ha.). But it slipped out on Facebook because I was so uncomfortable with the whole thing and confused about why I was uncomfortable.

    It's kind of obvious to me now, though: I was pretty damn young the first time I innocently stumbled into the consequences of speaking out.

    Anyway, I mentioned the incident I never mention in a comment within a comment and these two friends kept commenting back and forth to each other without acknowledging my comment. I'm sure it didn't look like anything that important, but if three people say they feel guilty and uncomfortable because they don't know if their feelings are valid and only two assure each other that they are…The one who is left out is going to get a little crazier.

    So yeah. AND THEN. Yesterday I had an appointment with a psychologist/attorney scheduled by social security for my disability claim. It was okay, but the setup of being harangued by a mental health and legal professional at a shiny table was a bit too much like the childhood experience I'm freaking out about. At least he didn't have those horrible anatomically correct dolls. And I am wiser now. But more afraid.

    • Absotively says:

      I hope that your understanding helps you deal with your freakout. Your feelings are definitely, absolutely, 100% valid. I'm sorry that your appointment made things worse; I hope that it at least bears fruit for your disability claim.

    • CleverManka says:

      It sucks that they didn't even acknowledge, you, bb. I'm so sorry. All the hugs.

    • redheadfae says:

      Oh, best wishes for you with the SSA. It's demoralizing, and dehumanizing at times.

      • redheadfae says:

        And I hear you. Your experience was horrible and not something a child should have to go through. Offering hugs if you want one.

    • Xolandra says:

      O_o. I have so many feels about your story that I am hard pressed to elucidate them all.

      You spoke up, you were silenced, your feelings about both of those things are valid.

      You are so amazing for continuing to navigate these horrible, murky waters. You are right to be afraid, they are dangerous, made so on purpose. Big hugs, if you want them.


  7. meat_lord says:

    Really, really good post. I've thought about posting the hashtag, but… performing the damage does not appeal.

  8. redheadfae says:

    So well said. Thank you for writing and sharing your story.

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