Tuesday, 17 October 2017

#MeToo : "We are living in a Rape Culture"

I have some thoughts on #metoo that have been swimming around in my head for days. It’s long, but important.
Are people really just now learning that women bear the burden of trauma of institutionalized misogyny? I’m glad that we are having a dialogue, but this whole #metoo thing again just makes it our burden as women to share deeply personal and painful stories, which feels vulnerable and brings that trauma back to the forefront of our minds. Why should I open myself up again? I have built up a protective exterior that has allowed me to continue to exist every day in this sometimes awful world. Many women who have experienced sexual violence don’t want to go about their daily lives seeing themselves as victims, even though it truly is inescapable. We want power, we want agency over who we choose to share our stories with and we want true safety.

This is about economics and power. Since the dawn of time women have turned to sex work as a means of attaining economic justice because traditionally we were not able to access the same types of jobs as men. Our bodies have been exploited as currency because we were viewed as intellectually inferior. We have never been seen or treated as equals in the workplace or even within our families. We know that women are grossly underpaid compared to men, and that men occupy senior management positions while women are employed in assistant positions etc.


Do you think it’s easy for someone who has experienced sexual assault to advocate for themselves or even to undo deep psychological conditioning that tells them they are unworthy? How often do people assume things about my personality or professional qualifications because I can’t carry myself with the confidence of an arrogant white man who has never experienced things that have broken them to their core.This power disparity is the reason why people like Harvey Weinstein are able to get away with these horrific abuses of power. Women want to work. We want the same opportunities as men and we want equal pay. How are your actions helping to undo this imbalance?

Harvey Weinstein is just one grotesque monster of a man. He is not representative of most of the perpetrators of violence, just like Angelina Jolie is not representative of women like me. We live in “rape culture” which means this behavior is institutionalized like how white supremacy is woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. It plays out in a million ways every day: from the horrendously dehumanizing modern dating culture (especially in cities like LA), in our workplaces and amongst our “woke” friends. I’ve witnessed the same scenarios play out in the “anti-racist / anti-sexist / anti-homophobic” punk clubs I grew up in, and the male music-nerd dominated college radio station I worked at to the LA independent music scene. I’ve watched my male Facebook friends who now have baby girls all of a sudden scared shitless that some asshole is going to treat their daughter like garbage… like they once did.

You think that performing for us on social media makes you an ally? We know who our allies are. Women talk to each other. I remember that shitty thing you did to my friend, or me or that story I heard about so and so raping an unconscious girl and now I have to see them around town and say hi and pretend to be normal like I’m not sick to my stomach all the time.

So no. Fuck that. How about men start coming forward about the time they were outright violators, or silent bystanders or benefitters. The truth is, the most insidious aspects of living in “rape culture” or institutionalized patriarchy are the ways that men (or people in power) don’t outwardly admit to participating or being complicit in a system that benefits you. So if you really truly give a shit and want to change things here are concrete things you can do. There are many layers - all pieces to a bigger puzzle.

If you are in positions of power in the workplace, make a dedicated commitment to hire women. Empower women. Support women. Put systems in place to protect them from sexual abuse. Prosecute violators. This is a systematic solution that ethical companies should put in place.

On a more individual, consciousness-raising level, listen to women and talk to them. Buy and read books written by women that deal explicitly with sexual trauma, such as Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist” or “Hunger”. Read “The Body Keeps The Score”.Read Rebecca Solnit. There are many more. Support women-owned businesses, go see films made by women, support female musicians and artists. Talk to your male friends. Call them out for problematic behavior. Think deeply about the times in your life that you treated women poorly - did you ghost someone after you finally got them to sleep with you? Did you care to get to know her before you wanted a physical piece of her? Did you actually care about being her friend? If you are not ready to come out and admit these instances, write them down and think deeply about the ways that you possibly negatively and permanently damaged someone’s psyche. This is a crisis.

Post Script: I should add that I am using the words "men" and "women" to simplify my argument. By "men" I mostly mean people who have inhabited positions of power, and yes I know plenty of men and trans people have experienced tons of abuse too.
-Scenery Samundra

No comments:

Post a Comment