We’ve been here before as women. Remember #YesAllWomen?
I wasn’t in a place to own my story then and shared details only privately. This weekend, I was much more bold. If I needed a sign that I was healing, there it was.
Yet, in speaking out, we’ve been accused of perpetuating the victimhood complex. I won’t speak for others, but let me be clear for myself: I’m not a victim. Not even a little bit. And, yes, I have been hurt and violated. Yes, there is even damage I’m still working through.
I can speak that without being a victim. I can acknowledge and own that those thing are part of my story without being at their mercy.
I am not a victim and sharing my story does not make me so, no matter how others read it.
Truthfully, I am a little shocked by how many of the women (and some men) I know have spoken up. A little shocked at just how many people who have been violated. And I know many are hurt and disgusted by what they’re reading this weekend. Many people owning this part of their story are also still working through it. Many of them have been violated much more recently or much more profoundly than I have been.
But you know, I’m not just shocked. I’m not just hurt to see my friends hurt and not just disgusted to see the carnage of rape culture.
NOT because I feel kinship with others. Not because it makes me happy or relieved to see that others admit they’ve been violated. Not because it helps me feel more normal. Not even because it’s been well received and believed. It hasn’t. We continue to be disbelieved, minimized, and criticized for speaking up.
But you know what? We are doing it anyway. And it matters.
There are a billion causes for our energy, a billion places for us to get angry and speak up, a billion windmills to tilt at (believe me, I find them).
This is no less important. It impacts how we approach the world. It teaches us who we can trust and how far we can trust them. It tells us who has a right to our bodies, our souls. It hurts men and women who were violated and it hurts men and women who were the perpetrators. When it’s silenced, it breeds shame and shame allows illness to grow into cancer.
I’m empowered by seeing so many people speak because I believe that speaking it helps us heal it.
Healthy people build healthy communities where we respect one another and care for each other’s needs. Healthy people build societies free of -isms. Healthy people build cultures where governments aren’t needed.
And maybe that connection has taken a turn that feels like it doesn’t follow, but (for me) this topic ends where all topics of morality end: at my two foundational values – the intrinsic worth of each person and the inherent right that each person has to control themselves.
At its core, this is an issue of personal value and self-ownership. This is an issue of who is allowed to cross your boundaries and where you have a right to limit that ingress. Only you get to decide that for you.
I hope my daughters and my friends’ daughters and sons will never have a reason to say me too. Speaking up helps make that hope more realistic.
So to everyone who has spoken, who has said “Me too”: thank you. Thank you for empowering me to own my story too. Thank you for making space for all of us to be more than victims. Thank you for helping us heal.
And a note directed squarely at my anarchist people: this is not a distraction. This is a branch not far removed from the root of freedom. We have to heal before we can be the kind of people who can maintain voluntary communities. We will never get that sort of society until we deserve it.
This is not a celebration of victimhood. See above.
This is not an exaggeration or something that “means nothing” because harassment and assault are a spectrum. No point on that spectrum is ok.
This is not an attack on you as a person or as a man. Nobody’s leaving you out. If you have a story, share it. Seriously.
And just because you don’t believe it’s an issue doesn’t mean that it’s not.