I’ve been following the media coverage of Harvey Weinstein and resulting #MeToo campaign with a lot of interest over the past few days. It has clearly revealed that this is a conversation that has long needed to occur. Women already know just how many of us have been harassed, victimized, assaulted, marginalized and raped. Men are the ones who seem surprised by these numbers.
When I was attending John Jay College for my MA in forensic psychology, I once wrote a paper on rape & date rape. I looked at the psychological impact each had on survivors as well as how societal responses differed to both types of assault. In many instances, survivors of date rape expressed feeling more blamed and less support. They often blamed themselves and questioned whether they had “asked for it”. This mindset shows the fundamental misunderstanding we still face about rape – it has nothing to do with sex! Let me repeat that – RAPE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX! Harvey Weinstein isn’t a sex addict, he’s a sexual predator. He used sex to impose his will upon unwilling women. If rape is the result of a desire for sex then I would expect there to be no sexual assaults of those society has deemed no longer sexually viable or attractive. That does not appear to be the case.
I have no doubt that physical attractiveness can play a role in why someone has been put on a sexual predator’s radar but I don’t believe it’s because the predator wants sex. It’s because it fulfills some need in them to impose their will upon others, especially those who might be seen as a “catch” by society. I would bet that if one caught some of Hollywood’s male actors in a private moment, we might learn that they are just as harassed and preyed up on by those in power.
I will admit that by the time I completed that paper I was suspicious of all men and looked at them with rage. I’m rather impressed that I didn’t attack any men during that time period.
One of the reasons I had an interest in the topic of rape is because I have been raped, sexually harassed, hooted & hollered at as well as molested many times over the course of my life. I know how it feels to have people look at you as though you brought this upon yourself. I know what it feels like to think you did something wrong and your actions triggered the assault. I know how it feels to tell someone what happened to you and have them either disbelieve your or, worse, believe you and do nothing. I’ve been afraid to sleep in my own home because I wasn’t sure if I’d wake up to find my molester assaulting me again.
I’ve never been silent about these assaults. I might not share the details with everyone I know but I’m open about having been through these experiences. Many times I fought back, either verbally or physically. In my youth I was gifted with the nickname The Nutcracker because if boys touched me in ways I didn’t like (such as trying to cop a feel or snap a bra strap), I kicked them in the nuts. Needless to say I wasn’t very popular with the boys. When I first began working I experienced harassment from some of the men in charge. This ranged from the 60 year old warehouse manager who kissed me against my will when I was 13 to the “dirty old man” comments from a 60+ year old man when I was in my 30s (you know the type – “why don’t you sit on my lap and we’ll talk about what comes up”).
I tolerated the comments for a while because, while I wouldn’t say it was harmless, those types of comments didn’t seem threatening to me. At least not until I saw those same behaviors aimed at younger (in some cases adolescent) females. Then I began commenting. My responses ranged from subtle “jokes” about how apple seeds are poisonous and would be so easy to slip into someone’s food to statements about how “crazy” and violent my hubby could be to more straightforward comments like “you couldn’t get it up if you used a crane” or “if you touch me I’ll push you down the stairs”. These often got brushed off as jokes but they achieved the desired results. I was left alone. Unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do to stop it with other females. Too many laughed and treated it as a joke and the executive director was guilty of similar behaviors. I’d like to think that I made a difference but in truth I’m not sure.
I drew two Tarot cards from the Darkness is Light deck to get an idea what I should write my next blog post about (it has been a while since I’ve updated). I drew the 3 of Blades Rx and The Empress Rx. To me that spoke of sharing times I’ve felt betrayed, heart sore and hurt; times I’ve been left to fend for myself rather than being nurtured, cared for and protected. So here is it – as much as I hate to jump on bandwagons, #MeToo