We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic. ~bell hooks, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism
In late 2017 I watched celebrity male after celebrity male come forward and admit to having assaulted or harassed women or other men. And with each admission and pseudo-apology, my eyes rolled a little bit harder and wider. I had the same response to Joe Biden’s recent string of non-apologies to Anita Hill as well as the women who have come forward stating he had hugged or touched them without their consent.
My initial response to all these “admissions” is No shit. No shit that a man in power wielded that power to get sexual gratification from those who couldn’t, for any number of reasons, say no. No shit that these men didn’t think this was “bad.” No shit that it would appear that every man in the world has done this.
Just like, #yesallwomen have been sexually assaulted or harassed, #yesallmen have at least harassed, if not assaulted women or other men.
(I know there are a few men who read this. Please don’t write me and tell me #notallmen or #notme. Yes all men and yes you. I’m not open for a discussion on this particular point. Complicity is as bad as an actual act as far as I’m concerned.)
I don’t find it surprising or shocking that all these men have done what we all know they have done. I do find it surprising that other people are shocked by these admissions.
I don’t even find it particularly shocking that they are coming forward. Because what a great publicity stunt. What a great way to get yourself, the perpetrator, centered instead of those you assaulted. What a great way to make this, again, all about the men and their power. Or worse, they twist the narrative in such a way as trying to appear to be the actual victim, like Biden seems to be trying to do by saying he won’t apologize for his “intentions” or making quips about how “times have changed”. This is all a re-centering of the perpetrator and pushing the actual victims out to the margins. Again.
I do find it irritating that now that the men are coming forward and saying “oh yeah, I did that” that now women are finally being believed. Because lord knows we need a man to corroborate our story in order for it to be true. (Please note the dripping sarcasm there.)
I also find it to be telling that now that these men are either coming forward or admitting guilt to allegations against them that they are losing their jobs and careers. Because let’s be real honest and clear here, everyone knew this shit was going on. All the studio and theater executives were crystal clear that this behavior was happening and they normalized it, “looked the other way” (at best), encouraged it (at almost worst), and participated in it themselves (at worst).
There is the term “casting couch” for a reason, folks.
So that now these executives are firing male perpetrators tells me a couple things. The first is these executives are very smart. The second that in their smartness they realize that at least 50% of their revenue comes from women. The third is that they realize those women who make up about 50% or more of their revenue are pissed and are speaking up and out more and more and more and are beginning to no longer tolerate this behavior.
Let’s not think for one moment that these executives are firing folks out of any sense of ethical or moral outrage.
They are following the money. End of story.
As I am watching as some of these men make pseudo-apologies, I am also watching to see what their next step is. How are they going to behave moving forward. What are they going to do to make reparations, not only to their own victims, but also to women everywhere?
Because talk is cheap.
And actions speak louder than words. (As a note, since this was originally written over a year ago, the actions of apology and reparations have been sorely lacking.)
Isabel Abbot wrote this on her Facebook page in November 2017
just so it is made plainly clear.
here in this space #notallmen will not be tolerated.
victim blaming will be shown the door.
defending perpetrators and praise for shitty apologies and hand wringing over critique of apologies because “what about redemption” is not worth my time and will be asked to leave.
expressing fear over a perceived witch hunt of even the good ones and claiming men can’t even have a hug or say a word without the threat of being misunderstood and accused of assault is not welcome and if it shows up here it will be called out quickly and completely.
what is happening now is the truth coming into the light. we burn it all down together, all the idols made of our father’s house and false power. nothing spared. this is where the life lives.
and here in this space, i will not qualify my critique of patriarchy and mysogyny with professing i do still love men. i don’t have time for that bullshit.
here, in my spaces, women and femmes are trusted,
and when women speak of their experiences of harm, i believe them and link arms in solidarity with them.
and we keep our eyes on them, keep the attention on their voices and narratives and truth and do not center the frantic scrambling to keep men and patriarchal power forever our focus.
here, we continue to center the margins and celebrate the righteous rising up of those who say no more.
I am weary of the idea that women are on some sort of witch hunt and that “good men” are going to be persecuted and that we need to think about the trauma that the perpetrator endured as a child and well, she didn’t actually say no or stop lines of bullshit.
Even “good men” are complicit. Even “good men” have looked the other way. Even “good men” have not spoken up. Even “good men” have harassed and assaulted. Even “good men” benefit from the fear that rape culture instills in women and femmes.
Because this isn’t about “good men” or “bad men”.
This is about living in a culture that normalizes and justifies the objectification and dehumanization of women. And all men benefit from this.
I am neutral about these men coming forward. I question their motives in doing so. I question the executives and their motives in firing these men. I really don’t care that these men are finally admitting their guilt and complicity in our culture. I don’t care that some men find it “confusing” or feel like the “rules have changed”.
I do care that up until now women have not been believed.
I do care that women have been told “oh it wasn’t that bad” or asked “well, what did you do to encourage him.”
I do care that dress codes are still focused on sexualizing girls instead of having a conduct code that punishes boys for objectifying these girls or even better yet creating and teaching and modeling a culture of consent.
I do care that these men have gotten away with this behavior for hundreds and thousands of years. And that, frankly, they will continue to get away with it, because the old boys club is real.
Not only do I care about these things, I am also furious and filled with rage.
I am furious that women have been gaslit for millennia.
I am furious that 1 in 3 women have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
I’m furious that 1 in 5 women in the United States has been raped in their lifetime.
I am furious that these numbers are likely much higher because these are only the numbers that are reported and the entire process of reporting this type of assault is rife with victim blaming and actually discourages victims from reporting.
I am furious that 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.
I am furious that 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
I am furious that between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.
I am furious that between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were murdered in their workplace by their abuser, which is 78% of women killed in the workplace during this time frame.
I am furious that men think they have a right to touch or talk about a woman’s body without her permission.
I am furious that some people seem to think the men who are finally coming forward and admitting their guilt deserve cookies and medals and praise for being “so brave.”
I am furious that in my circles I need to differentiate between a sense of safeness within our bodies and actual physical safety out in the world.
I am furious that I have to remind the women in my circles NOT to do any of the exercises and practices I offer them when they are not in a physically safe environment.
I am furious at the amount of trauma that lives in our bodies, because of the culture we live in and the normalization of rape, objectification of women, and victim blaming and silencing.
I am furious that women earn less than men yet are often more competent and do better at their jobs.
I am furious that reproductive rights is even a topic of conversation, let alone that “heartbeat” laws are being passed across the US, the Roe vs. Wade will be challenged at the Supreme Court level within the next decade and that the current Supreme Court will likely reverse RvWade.
I am furious that those who would take away my reproductive rights, also would take away my ability to care for and feed a child (by cutting funding to social services that benefit women and children).
I am furious and repulsed by the excuse making for pedophiles that crops up periodically.
I am furious that we have all suffered in relative silence for far too long.
I am furious that we have not been believed and need men to corroborate our stories.
I am furious, about all this and so much more.
Remember:: Our rage is valid.
And please, don’t ever forget that.
This was originally published as one of my weekly newsletters in November 2017 and has been edited for publication here.
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