The Me-Too Club
If a declaration on social media is the arbiter of reality, I have now officially joined a club I never wanted to be in. The truth is that I’ve been in it for decades– but nobody else knew it. That’s because I did not tell them. Admitting what happened to me, I thought, would only serve to deepen the penumbra of shame that surrounded the event in my psyche …and God knows it was dark enough. But after being bombarded almost daily with reports of egregious sexual misbehavior by brazen, unapologetic people with power and money like Roman Polanski, Jerry Sandusky, Harvey Weinstein and, of course, our sociopathically promiscuous commander-in-chief–misbehavior that often continued for years, covered up, or overlooked or tolerated, and ultimately enabled by people who stood by and let it happen–and after hearing the groundswell of “me too” voices that continues to rise up across the internet, I finally found the courage to speak up.
My admission was long in coming–I use the word ‘admission’ here because it’s the guilt I’ve felt, the deep, accusatory darkness surrounding the event, the fear that I somehow caused or deserved that violence, that has for so many years kept me from speaking. I understood intellectually that this guilt was not mine to carry, but I carried it nonetheless …and the heft of it has at times all but flattened me. Clearly, I am not alone in this.
There are so many of us, too many of us, who have been violated and silenced. And now, at long last, we are demanding to be heard. What we want more than to be heard is to see changes in people, and roles, and laws. People especially.
But is it possible? I think it is, for some people. Whether or not it’s likely to reform those most in need of reforming (some of whom are mentioned above) is an open question–I am not overly optimistic. I have noticed, perhaps ironically, that the people willing to shoulder the responsibility for the misbehavior are not the ones who are guilty of it while the real offenders put on a show of being shocked and outraged and then go right on doing what they have always done, leaving their victims to struggle silently and alone, ashamed to admit to being a member of a club they have already joined.
So please, keep talking, and listening. Don’t ignore suffering. Don’t suffer in silence Call out the behavior you will not tolerate. Your voice and mine, together, can make a difference.