Trigger Warning: I’m getting ready to be super-duper politically incorrect. I mean, even more than usual. Like, way more than usual. So if you can’t stand the heat, here’s a link to a cute puppy page, because I can see you need a safe space.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole #MeToo movement, about women telling tales of sexual abuse from long ago, particularly if the perpetrator is someone rich, famous, and powerful. Initially, I didn’t want to comment, because I’m not a joiner. I hate saying “me too” about anything. I’m terribly contrarian and individualistic and love to look for flaws in any form of groupthink, but I’m ready to come out of the closet now and join the #MeToo movement…if only to tromp all over it.
In my younger and prettier days, I experienced the entire gamut, at one time or another, of what is now referred to as sexually inappropriate behavior. So I get to talk about this subject without the SJW’s telling me to “shut up, you just don’t understand,” because I totally do.
Some of those youthful experiences simply hurt my feelings or left me fuming angry for a couple of days, while others caused me great distress, like therapy-and-mood-stabilizing-drug-level distress, so first I have to say, yes, there is a spectrum; while a butt-pinch in a smoky bar might be crude and belittling, it’s not life-changing. It’s just not. And a guy who “forcibly kisses” a woman shouldn’t be classed with serial rapists and child-molesters. We might call him creepy or filthy or some other words I won’t use here, but should he be put in jail? Absolutely not. Now, one of my lovely perpetrators probably should have been put in jail, and maybe would have been, if I’d been up for having my life turned upside down with cops and courts and public shaming and tearful family members and lost friends. Yeah, no, I didn’t go there, and I don’t regret it.
But if that guy was running for office or had a high-up corporate position today, some thirty-odd years later, I absolutely would NOT step up to the podium now, choking back tears, with Gloria Allred at my side, and out the dude as a slime-ball. And for saying that, I’m sure the Feminist Police will have my head. Especially if said slime-ball was someone they were ardently politically opposed to and wanted to destroy. It’d be my duty, they’d have me believe, to save all of womankind from this creepy person of the male persuasion. Even if the creep has cleaned up his act and is no longer a threat to anyone.
Which brings me right to my point. What, really, is the purpose of all the long-ago story-telling, of the #MeToo’ing? What is the motivation for sharing with the world how this big, important person wronged you back when Jimmy Carter was president?
Well, maybe you’ve never told anyone before. Maybe you need support and therapy and soul-cleansing to get on with your life. Fair enough. So go get some–call a hotline, hire a therapist, tell a friend. Trust me, it’ll do a lot more for you than an anonymous post on Facebook. But then, typing a hashtag takes way less courage than actually trying to resolve your issue.
But maybe you’re past that. You’re good with whatever happened. It was a long time ago, after all. Now you want to offer support to other men and women who’ve suffered as you have. Okay, that’d be a nice thing to do. But of course, you can do that without naming names. In fact, you can do it without going public at all. You can join support groups, do volunteer work, write songs or books or poems that express your outrage and your pain and help others work through theirs. But those things take time and energy; where’s the fun in that?
Maybe your reason for “coming out” is more serious. Maybe you want to try and stop an active predator or help another victim put him away. That’s a laudable purpose indeed, and surely, the right thing to do. If your testimony would keep this person from hurting someone else, then by all means, give it and any evidence you have to the police and the courts. Or to the head of the school where the person teaches. Or to the H.R. department where he works. That is how Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein were eventually stopped: police procedures and due process. Not much glory or limelight in that, but it works.
But what if the bad guy is no longer a serious, active threat? President George H.W. Bush comes to mind—90 year old man in a wheelchair. Or what if all the allegations are ancient and unprovable, as in Judge Roy Moore’s case? Or what if they’re provable but not realistically prosecutable, as in Senator Al Franken’s situation? Even if everything these men are accused of is true, what is the point of the finger-pointing? You want compensation for your pain and suffering? That’s not unreasonable. File a civil suit against them. Nobody else has to know. In fact, they’d prefer it that way; if there’s any believability to your story, you’ll get what you want, and they’ll get your silence in return.
But maybe it’s not about compensation. Maybe you just want to warn us that this guy is creepy. You want us to know he’s capable of bad judgement, stupid mistakes, and nefarious deeds, or at least he was, at some point in his life. Good thing none of the rest of us has ever done anything we regret. Good thing none of us has one single thing in our pasts that we’d rather no one know. Because surely that one thing absolutely defines who we are and what we’re capable of, a decade or three down the road.
But maybe your desire to share your story is not about helping the world to understand this person’s character. Maybe it’s more that you just want people to know that, damn it, he hurt you all those years ago, that you were a victim of this now rich and powerful person, because poor you, your life was ruined. Unless of course, it wasn’t. Not saying you didn’t suffer great pain, but are you happy today? Do you have a good life? Do you like who you are? If you do, what would you go back and change? How do you know that your worst experiences aren’t the ones that made you who you are?
Okay, maybe it’s none of those things. Then I’ll ask again, why share the ancient history? Maybe, just maybe, what you really want is to bring the person down. Maybe you want to destroy his life and his career and his family—because that’s the likely outcome of a #MeToo tale. Maybe you want to exert control over this guy when he’s vulnerable and unable to fight back, just like he did to you once upon a time. Maybe you just want to even the score.
So maybe you’re stooping to his level. Maybe you’re abusing your power in what is currently a socially acceptable and rewarding manner.
Maybe I just got too close. If you’re feeling the pain, I refer you back to the cute puppy page.