I don’t often add caveats after the fact. Actually, in more than 13 years of blogging, this is the first time. So here it is.
I am not ridiculing or belittling those who simply said #metoo. In this article, I am deliberately and specifically calling out those emotionally or otherwise profiteering on pain and capitalizing on it for the sake of attention with no emphasis on the whole people and lives involved.
Yes, by all means, speak up. I have been for years. It’s my story and I will tell it how and when I believe I should. No one gets a pass. I don’t for being silent when I should speak up and predatory villains don’t get a pass for their violation of those weaker than themselves. These garish caricatures of humanity are only unknown and invisible as long as they are able to maintain their control over people who refuse to stand strong in the light and defy the odds.
My argument is that the moments captivated by #metoo are only a small part of actual life and it’s time for people, for all of us, to stop stagnating on the pain and focus instead on the process of living.
Our greatest vengeance is to live well because we are stronger than they are. They are forgettable. I will not be. You don’t have to be.
So, without further ado…
I didn’t write #metoo. I have every right to do so but I didn’t. I’m too busy living for #metoo. See, I am not just a survivor of something awful. What a tiny part of my identity that takes up!
I am a person who has overcome circumstances contrived to destroy me. I’m a wife, a friend, a mom, a sister, a daughter, a person of faith, a great cook, a voracious reader, someone who appreciates beauty and poetry, a writer, a confidante, a teller of bad jokes, a lover of sci-fi and 40’s movies. A whole person who has a few places where the limbs were bent in the storm and I grew a little crooked.
Movements like #metoo want to reduce us to just the bare bones of a sordid tale that demoralizes everyone around us and reduces us to reliving those agonizing moments over and over and over again.
And that’s just not gonna happen.
I don’t want to join a movement. I’m too busy living.
I didn’t post #metoo and join the chorus of agony because I don’t want to live as though all I am is someone who has suffered. I refuse to be reduced to a pathetic sum total of someone else’s overindulgence. I am not thrown out garbage. There is far more to any man or woman than a litany of damage.
If #metoo was about strong men and women explaining how they have overcome extreme odds to become dynamic and constantly evolving human beings contributing to society, determined to not be defined by the weaknesses of others?
Well, with those brothers and sisters I would stand up and scream #METOO at the top of my lungs. Heck, I’d crochet a hat and walk down main street for that cause.
But it wasn’t.
From the very start, it grew into a litany of who could outdo the person in front of them by displaying the depth of depravity their story exposed while the excruciating pain was marched out like a favorite pet.
For public consumption, people with genuine tragedies became just one more screech in the cacophony of the perpetual victim. While all the onlookers breathlessly gave their best effort to outdo each other giving the best affirmation, the best comfort, the best example of social media support and consolation. Because it wasn’t really about the #metoo after all but how much better the spectators could feel about how they responded to the few words on a screen before going on as though nothing happened.
Because for them? Nothing did.
And #ibelieveyou? Want to know a secret? Sometimes, I don’t. I don’t believe everyone. I have learned to not underestimate the lengths humanity will go to in an effort to receive ALL that syrupy love and attention. Lying about their “victimization” becomes just one more way to mock those who have been truly harmed and insure they are harmed again.
When the liars are exposed, as they often are, those who have the real stories to tell are shushed again. Those who were exploited for a perverse fantasy of borrowed shame? What about them? Do they get a #metoo?
You know one way to find the liars? Well, it’s the same way you can tell if anyone is lying in the rest of life.
Too many details.
No one who has endured great pain wants to verbally live it over and over again to sate the appetite of a panting onlooker. It’s not Thanksgiving leftovers that you can’t wait to go back for. It’s raw. It wasn’t fun the first time. Nobody wants to relive it on stage so you feel some sort of random solidarity.
But, if #metoo was about the strength necessary to walk back out of that pit of despair we are tempted wallow in until the very edges of our hearts are prune-y then I would join that march. In combat boots.
Tell me how you got out of bed, took a shower, got dressed, wore the red lipstick, bought the great tie, and looked people square in the eye. Tell me how you went after that job, loved those kids, fought like a warrior for your marriage and family.
Tell me how you chose to LIVE. Not how you want to die. Every single one of us who has been broken knows how that feels. We need to remember to live.
If it was those of us who have suffered and LIVED not those who suffered and withered into vindictive, bitter abusers themselves? Then I would say #metoo. I’d buy the damn bumper sticker.
This isn’t a competition to see who is more deserving of compassion or who isn’t worth listening to. Your pain, my pain, his pain, her pain… I don’t get to quantify what constitutes pain to you. Don’t tell me what constitutes pain to me.
But more than that, don’t tell someone they are little more than the sum total of actions done by selfish indulgent weaklings who wanted to steal from someone weaker than themselves what they couldn’t honestly get from a willing equal.
I pity the sad pieces of ragged soul that exonerate the behavior of the abuser, the onlookers, the abusers themselves. There is redemption for everyone, should they choose to find it. However, a long hard road of accepting responsibility, taking the weight of the consequence, and living with the full knowledge of evil choices seems to be enough deterrent to keep most hiding behind justification and the masquerade that says perversion is only distasteful if you aren’t “enlightened” or “informed”.
But, it’s just not something we want to think about.
The whole disgusting debacle being uncovered in Hollywood isn’t news. The wolfish teachers and preachers and politicians aren’t news. No one is surprised that 1 out of every 6 women has been assaulted or that 1 out of every 10 rape victims are men. Maybe that last one surprised you.
Is ANYONE surprised that there are sexual predators in the world?
Think about the basic role of any predator and any victim. One is the hunter and one is the hunted.
Stop being the victim. Stop being hunted. Stop being prey.
So, for all of us who have refused to be a casualty of a debauched society ever again? For those of us who said, “Oh, HELL NO!” to letting a piece of garbage control our thoughts for one more second?
Stop rehashing the story. Write a new one. Where you are the voice who decides what you do and where you go. How you live and what you say. What you love and what you hate.
For all of us who are walking with our heads held high, refusing to be defined by the things done to us without our consent, letting the violators and the abusers choke on our dust? Those are the ones I want to join and say #metoo.