Yup, me too.
I didn’t just decide to participate in the #metoo movement because I want to speak my own truth (although I do, and that matters). I decided that I wanted to share because none of us are safe until all of us are safe.
Since I’ve shared my own post, I’ve seen such an array of really irritating, ignorant responses. On the one hand, it’s so heartening to be a part of something that is prompting powerful conversation in our society. This movement has brought me hope, because it’s a stunning, visual outpouring that shows me I’m not alone!
On the other hand, it’s exhausting to have to field these replies, on top of the emotional burden of picking the scab of recalling these experiences in my own life. Can I live, please?
So I decided to assemble the greatest hits of the responses I’ve had to craft over the past few days. Hopefully these will serve you on your own journey with #metoo! And if you’re one of the people out there saying this stuff, please reconsider your approach.
“But Sexual Assault and Harassment Affect Men, Too!”
Agreed. Sexual assault and harassment don’t discriminate based on race, age, gender, income bracket, educational level, physical attributes, or your level of agency within society. We are ALL vulnerable when even one of us is vulnerable.
Unless you’re out there campaigning on men’s behalf every other time of the year, I think it’s a cop out for people to say, “Oh, but it happens to men too,” in response to this movement.
Let’s face it―if your response to a bunch of women publicly sharing that they’ve been affected by sexual assault and harassment is to say, “But it happens to men, too,” you’re more than likely using that argument to silence women and shame them for speaking up.
So yes—it for sure happens to men too. So those men that have been affected are welcome to either join in, or take a long, hard look in the mirror. The widespread nature of this problem is not a reason to oppose or abstain from #metoo. Women & men (cis & trans), Z, and other all deserve to move through this world feeling safe in our bodies.
“Why is this the first time you’re saying something? You should report it when it happens.”
It’s a fallacy to assume that those posting as part of #metoo are doing it “for the first time.” For my own part, this isn’t the first time I’ve spoken out about what I experienced. But like many, when I spoke out, I was encouraged (and in some cases, threatened or intimidated) to keep a lid on my experiences.
“They’re a family member, and we don’t out our family members on this stuff.”
“You don’t want to be known as a whistleblower.”
“No one will hire you or want to work with you.”
“You’re just going to be labeled a basket case, it’s better for your own sake to stay silent.”
These are the types of things that people have said to victims to keep us quiet over the years.
This movement is a great thing because it’s bringing us all out of the shadows, and allowing us to speak our truth in full view. Brené Brown has said that “Shame needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgement.” #metoo is abolishing shame around this topic, and that’s a super empowering thing!
“Okay, so you’re talking about it. Now what?”
PLEASE STOP ASKING “Now what?” in reaction to #metoo.
Would you say that to a gay person after they’ve come out?
“Great, you’re gay. Now what?” No. Because that would be insanely disrespectful.
It’s just as disrespectful to turn that question on a community that is speaking out about really painful, traumatic stuff. Stop asking this question and applaud the fact that the conversation is happening! That in itself is a major step forward.
I can’t emphasize enough the power and progress that is reflected by the simple act of speaking out. There is so much shame and secrecy surrounding these experiences, and many (though not all) of us have been living in the shadows for a long time. So “merely” being able to “out” ourselves is important.
For now, that might be enough. Instead of everyone pointing the finger at the victims of these acts and asking, “Now what?” perhaps it’s time to turn our gaze to major employers, thought leaders, and prominent figures in our society, all of whom have contributed to this culture in one way or another. It is up to them to show us, as a society, how they’re going to take action to make the spaces they have influence over safer for all of us.
“Are you going to share the details of your story?”
I’ve been speaking up about many experiences with my body over the past three years, as a plus size model and a blogger / influencer. I’ve written about the physical trauma that lead to two major surgeries, and being medically discharged from the Navy. I’ve written and spoken in front of Congress about my eating disorder, which developed in the military.
This week, I’ve posted about the fact that sexual assault and harassment have affected me too. But at this point, I can’t say if I’ll be publicly sharing the details of those experiences. It doesn’t necessarily serve anyone for me to make those stories public, and I’m not sure I’m ready to do that.
It’s not a cop out. It’s an act of self care for me, or anyone else, to take this slowly. I don’t owe anyone the gory details just because I decided to join the #metoo movement. But there is tremendous value in us all speaking out, and holding space for one another.
So there you have it. That’s my cheat sheet on replying to irritating, ignorant comments in response to your #metoo posts.
Whatever you do, don’t let the haters get you down, or stop you from speaking out. It’s time to raise our voices, not just as victims. But as a unified society that has had enough. I’m not going to stand for it any longer, and I won’t stay silent on behalf of those that do.