Freedom and Equality Require Risk and Responsibility

It may seem surprising that I would sign or endorse a letter criticizing the #MeToo movement.  I am a feminist, a victim’s rights advocate, and most famously a rape victim.  I will tell you why I agree so staunchly with the letter.  #MeToo should be a platform for victims to be supported, to show solidarity for each other, to strengthen one another.  Each individual one of us who has suffered in very different and similar ways, but have always known that we are part of a larger group, our mothers, our sisters, our friends, we are not the minority.  We have always had each other’s backs.

Perhaps it can’t be helped that religious and political conservatives will hijack our best attempts to do good and turn them on their head.   In example, attacking Meryl Streep, Hollywood in general, politicians they don’t like, they will use #MeToo or anything else that we let them for their own ends, caring nothing about the issues or the actual human beings who have been and are being hurt.

I have spent 40 years of my life defending myself from attacks.  Those who say I could not possibly be alright after a much older man, in my case Roman Polanski, had sex with me. I don’t have to be hurt to please you, why would anyone want that?  Why would you say what happened to me was horrific or gruesome, it most certainly was not.  It was however a crime for which Roman pled guilty and went to jail. When I refuse to bend and show the damage that is demanded I am a rape apologist, with Stockholm Syndrome, who is bought and paid for and most importantly, I am hurting every other rape victim who ever lived, a woman who must be mad.  And, also a slut for being sexually active at 13. That is the problem with being a strong woman, a survivor, is the activists have no use for you, they turn on you the second they realize it.  They need victims, not survivors.  Frankly, if you can be okay, why do you need them?  We need to shut that type of activism down.  No more apologies for being a healthy, happy survivor.  We should be examples, encouraging women who struggle and lifting them up.  It is not true that your recovery damages others.

Rape and sexual harassment and intimidation in the work place are serious issues, they must be dealt with in a serious way.   We need to empower women, not demand that they revel in their “most certainly permanent” damage not only to prove what happened to them was wrong, but also just for entertainment.  It is sad that a confident woman who has survived a bad experience for some, is not as interesting as watching someone writhe in pain.

If #MeToo seems to have become about attacking powerful people or taking advantage of people who have been mistreated to make some type of point or personal gain.  If it offers no strength, no recovery, just a place to have your pain validated as if it is a badge of honor, an asset, rather than something you can move past, then it’s time to move past #Metoo.

When a simple touch during a photograph, a bad joke, some typical behavior in the 70s or 80s is equated with rape and real sexual harassment, we have diminished the seriousness of those crimes or actions.  When a pass at a 17 year old is talked of as pedophilia, we take away from the actual victims of those crimes.  If you are searching your mind to remember who might have acted inappropriately to you, you are not a victim, and you shouldn’t want to be.  Society may value weakness and pain in women, but you should value your own worth on much more than that.  If women want equality, to be accepted in to all areas of society we need to be what we really are.  Strong adult women, who do not need special protection or treatment because we are the frail opposite sex.  Women who can stand up for ourselves because we were taught to and are expected to.

I disagree with the puritanical ideology that tells women that sex injures them and it is “taken” by men.  That our worth is in our vagina, in our bodies measured by the men who have touched then.   Our young women need to learn the sexuality is healthy, normal, necessary.  That lives are not shaped by a bad experience but by our resilience.  That hatred and punishment does not heal you or undo something that has happened.  Your beauty, your value, that is something inside you that cannot be taken.

Standing with women should be our strength, not a way to turn us all into un-redeemable victims who must be shielded from the world, from men, from sex, from themselves.  Sexuality is individual, it’s part of life, it can be tricky and awkward.  It does not harm you.  Don’t confuse those working to free and empower you with those working to deny us all our own sexuality and to conform with what they want to control religiously and politically.   Rape is a crime, sexual harassment in the workplace has consequences and must stop.  But being offended is one of the prices we pay for our freedom.  There is a big difference between those things.  They may muddy the waters, but ladies do not give up your hard fought for rights and equality, not to those who simply want to cage and control you.

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