Browse Month

January 2018

#metoo is spreading around the social web. I wish it felt like a good thing.

This grew out of a comment thread on one of my posts on Facebook. I suspect this might be used as fodder by anti-feminists; please don’t. Women aren’t the problem. Female empowerment isn’t the problem. Feminism isn’t the problem.

A refusal to take instances of rape seriously is, and remains the problem.

We don’t take it seriously when women are honest about their sexual abuse. We also don’t take it seriously when men do it. Men refuse to take rape seriously. So do women. This is a problem with people in general.

I also suspect this might be used as fodder by some to claim that I’m horning in on women’s spaces (as it was in the original “discussion,” which predictably went nowhere). While that matters, the fact that I was raped matters, too. Tell me what to do to try and get you to pay attention to that, and I’ll do it.

Some of you will see this as appropriative. I can’t really do anything about that. You’re going to see what you want to see. My only decision is whether or not I should continue to sit on my hands.

A hashtag isn’t a women’s only space. I’m not telling you to admit men to women’s shelters (though, resources for men escaping domestic abuse matter; it may be a separate discussion).

The people who know me already know this is part of my history.

We’re left in a tough spot. Either we don’t talk about men who get raped and sexually abused, which is business as usual, or we do, and instead of focusing on the issue, now we have to deal with accusations of being appropriative.

My first instinct, of course, is to stay out of this. My first instinct whenever rape is being discussed is not to talk about it happening to me. My first instinct is always to be quiet, to be compliant… to let the people who know “better” than me talk about this, because what happened to me isn’t really the same thing… not really.

Never mind that he systematically coerced me into sex I didn’t want to have, over and over again. Never mind that “no” was never actually an option. Never mind that he took what he wanted, used me in ways he’d already decided he was going to, regardless of what I said. Never mind that I was too young at the time to really understand what was happening.

Never mind that I’ve been in and out of therapy for years, at this point.

What happened to me isn’t really a part of the rape culture. A bad thing, sure. Regrettable. But I’m not one of the 6 in 10 women who will be raped or assaulted, say some.

Well. No, I’m not one of those women. But what happened to me still happened.

So, okay — #metoo isn’t for me, too, say some people. That’s starting to leave a really ugly taste in my mouth. I’ve been told by all sorts of people to stay quiet, to not make this an issue…

No one pretends that women don’t get raped. We don’t pay any attention to individual women who come out about their abuse, and we slut shame them and all the rest, but nobody debates that “female rape” doesn’t really exist. If ignoring the scope of the problem is part of the problem, then it’s the same problem if we ignore or downplay that this doesn’t just happen to women. It’s part of the same problem to claim ownership of a hashtag that’s supposedly intended to raise awareness about just how widespread this really is, and how many people it affects.

That’s the crux, I suppose. Do we intend to show people that this is a problem for just the people who are women, or that it’s a problem? If just the former, why?

Because no one listens when you tell your story? That’s happened to me. (In some ways, given accusations of appropriating a hashtag, that’s still happening.)

Because people tell you it was your fault? That too.

Because people tell you that if you’d done things differently, you wouldn’t have brought it on yourself? Yeah, that too.

If #metoo belongs to women alone, in what way was the fact of my rape, and the reaction to it in any fucking way any different?

The angrier I get about this the more I realize I’m asking you for permission to talk about this, in the hopes you’ll pay attention. I do not require your permission, and permission isn’t yours to give, in the first place.

I’m a feminist. I’m in favor of actually talking about any of this. If #metoo helps, then it’ll be good.

But not at the expense of male sexual abuse still being ignored, by practically everyone.

And at this point, I fear we will never, ever, not ever escape claims of being appropriative.

So we either actually talk about this, and let the folks who want to focus on claims of appropriation over the reality of rape do what they were always going to do… or we sit back down, and be quiet, and it’ll be business as usual.

If this works out to some greater awareness of the scope of the problem of rape and sexual assault among women, then that’s a good thing.

I wish I felt like it was, though.