Sadly, the #metoo movement has already started to fade out of it’s 5 minutes of fame. And all that’s left of the passionate push for change is a few straggling stories. While I feel strongly that the core issue is something that needs to change and many women I know are fighting daily for that, I do not support the #metoo social media movement.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully see the benefits of how this movement has affected people in a positive way. For example, getting people in the habit of saying “I believe you” instead of immediately questioning the situation is progress. The questions about who should be involved has sparked some truly thoughtful debates and opened the eyes of people everywhere to the complexity of the issue. And of course it’s beneficial to feel there is ongoing support from other women in the war against sexual abuse.
But while this short movement has I hope pushed us a little closer to the finish line, I fear that it has in some ways pushed us back as well.
We are not victims.
Of all the stories I’ve heard about women being harassed, assaulted and victimized not one has shared a success story of how they received redemption for an assault or how they avoided a traumatizing experience. For all the stories urging men to take responsibility for their actions, no single story has shared how women turned around a potentially awful situation. No one offered solutions about what women can do to change the way people think about sexual assault.
It’s almost as if we are sitting around sharing our stories of victimization and waiting for someone to save us, like some 50s Disney princess. I don’t know about you, but I would like to feel as if we have power to change the way society sees us. I want to be allowed to save myself. By seeing story after story of women’s tragic experiences, it seems to me that society will start seeing us as victims and I’m sure that’s the opposite of what anyone was looking to accomplish.
Maybe instead of showing the world how common and normal it is to victimize women, we start giving women tools to deal with the problem. Maybe instead of telling our stories over and over, we start talking about how we can change our future stories to reflect strength and confidence.
Awareness isn’t a solution.
The initial post says “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Maybe it’s the area of the world I live in, but I think at this point, most people are pretty aware that this is a big problem.
I’ve read so many articles and statements running toward the finish line of removing the stigma around these traumatizing events. But by removing stigma are we also removing importance? Some of these stories I’ve heard under the #metoo movement are horrific and allowing the world to desensitize discredits our cause. They should be shocking, they should invoke passion for change and turn your stomach. Yes maybe the problem is bigger than many people realize but normalizing it in a “everybody poops” sort of way does not create understanding for the nature of these gruesome events. These experiences should not be shared along side posts about concerts, vacation pictures and recipes. It’s not casual and it shouldn’t be treated that way. And by putting it in this context, we’re dulling the seriousness of the issue.
People want to be part of something. And in a social media world that is predominantly women, I can see how a movement like this can catch on. Before we even think about if it’s a good idea, we’re jumping on the band wagon under the guise of making the world a better place. So quick to participate and show we are up on the trends, we don’t stop to give the issue the proper thought it deserves.
Yes, it feels good to air your grievances. And I am all for that. It feels great to complain sometimes and even better when someone truly understands what you’ve gone through. And on that side of the #metoo movement, it’s a win. And maybe that’s the way we should be thinking of it – as a way for women to give support to one another and encourage each other to be strong and continue the ongoing fight.
But just because sexual assault and harassment has happened a lot and it shouldn’t doesn’t mean that’s enough to change anything. Joining a movement by adding a rainbow flag to your profile pictures, marching down main street with a sign or sharing a story that’s happened to you is the easy part. And that’s when the trend ends because coming up with real solutions and testing theories is difficult. And a movement like this is too important to just fizzle. This deserves an in-depth analysis and more than a brief week long social media hashtag.
When a social trend like #metoo goes viral, it can spiral in a million different directions and the plot gets lost in the process. And when we aren’t united in our message, it’s hard to accomplish anything. Who are we trying to target? Just “people”? Are we trying to change the way rapists think? Are we trying to create an environment of support for women who have gone through traumatizing events? Are we trying to educate people about what is and isn’t appropriate? It seems like the original post suggests we are reaching out to people who aren’t aware this is a problem, which seems to me must be a very small population. But if we don’t know who or how we are planning to change anything, change isn’t the first objective.
It’s not a man hunt.
In a culture where the first question when something bad happens is who’s to blame, social issues like this often get convoluted with hate. A torch waving mob is never a constructive way to approach a wrong-no matter how justified the cause. As per the original post, this entire trend pits men and women against each other.
I’ve read post after post of bashing, scolding and demanding apologies from the men who have treated women in an inappropriate way. And while I think that career rapists and power mongering misogynists deserve to be reprimanded like any other criminal, a stern talking to isn’t going to change them. Some men who have never had to be in the situation that women have find it hard to sympathize or even understand our cause. The finger wagging perhaps isn’t the right approach to change the way the population thinks of these injustices. Perhaps it’s dividing us even further.
When a woman is shamed for something that happened to her that was out of her control, it’s a very difficult emotion to explain to someone who’s never been in a similar situation. If it was easy, things might already be different.
Anything worth doing, is worth putting effort into and demanding someone see your story from your point of view isn’t enough. And why should men care when all we’re doing is throwing shade and hate at them? It’s like launching a campaign to sell a million wallets but all the advertisements say is how broke and sad the owner is that you aren’t buying their product.
In conclusion – what we say is important, but how we say it matters too. I hate the thought of this important issue reduced to a blip in social media history. Keep fighting, but with thought and love.