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.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sonya sofia
    Jan 22, 2018 @ 08:51:10

    a text full of wisdom. thank you samantha

    Reply

  2. Bruno Frederico Müller
    Feb 02, 2018 @ 17:29:00

    Excellent post. I agree with you 100%. But it is not clear to me: are you referring to the open letter written by French women supporting the “right to hit on women”?

    Reply

  3. Julia
    Feb 03, 2018 @ 20:51:19

    Wow! This is brilliant. I do think we are all resilient, and I also do think it’s important (as much as possible) to acknowledge the pain and trauma of the assault. Then to do any therapy that lets us move on from it. I think many of us never acknowledged the pain or trauma of the assault(s), which is why the MeTo movement might seem overblown. We tried to move on, but were walking around with weird pieces of souls missing. I think once this part of our experience is finished then we all can move on to what’s next. My impression is that the author dealt with her situation and dealt with her feelings and didn’t need the rest of us to continue to tell her that she should feel trauma, pain etc.

    I disagree with the premise that being touched inappropriately is not as bad as being raped. I know that this depends on the circumstances. One person wrote about being raped several times, but her father touching her breast inappropriately was much more traumatic. I was grabbed by men several times on the streets of Mexico –I wasn’t raped, but that wasn’t as traumatic as a married friend of my brother’s coming after me with way too many compliments. So I think a lot of what we talking about is context, expectations, and the victim. I would not be considered a victim, by what my brother’s friend did to me, but it stayed with me and affected me much more. It was because I trusted this man to be decent, and he wasn’t. Other of my brother’s married friends made passes at me, but they were water of my back, because I didn’t expect them to be decent.

    So I say, let each woman (or man) have their experience, and let them experience it the way they experience it. If it’s a crime and they want to prosecute the perp, then let them do so. I don’t think any of us have the ability to tell another how they feel about their experience, or how their experience should impact them.

    Reply

  4. Bootstraps
    Feb 16, 2018 @ 09:03:33

    Thank you and I agree, it’s time to move past metoo and in to Times Up! I found that when I shared my story I was met with so much pity and I felt so disappointed and confused. Pity!? I wanted backbone! So this #metoo, it’s necessary and messy to stir the pot, but hopefully it’s made room for some real positive change and justice. Thank you Samantha!

    Reply

  5. djvinno
    Mar 01, 2018 @ 18:29:41

    Came here from the link at http://quillette.com/2018/01/31/nobodys-victim-interview-samantha-geimer/
    Great work and powerful writing.

    I am particularly struck with this line from your entry here:
    “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.”

    Reply

  6. Michelle Christopher
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 20:23:43

    I just finished your book. I was inspired by it and began doing research to find more about you I paid special attention to those articles that you actually participated in, just to be sure I was reading truthful things and not made up or “edited” quotes from when you were a child. After reading an interview with a link to your response to the #Metoo movement all I can say is that you are my hero. Thank you, for sharing your story. You have made an impact in my life.

    Reply

  7. cap10voodoo
    Jul 24, 2018 @ 20:13:10

    Thank you for your nuanced and thoughtful insights.

    Reply

  8. Marcelo Maya
    Sep 08, 2019 @ 23:42:12

    Your comment does not exonerate Polanski nor delete his crime. Kudos to you for have forgiven him. But the law does not forget nor the society in general.

    Reply

  9. Trackback: #Cine | “El Oficial y El Espía”: El Caso Dreyfuss, lo último de Roman Polanski – Cine La Guasacaca
  10. Werushka O
    Jul 27, 2020 @ 06:26:34

    Bravo! i am late to reading this entry, but find it as timely and as necessary as it was 2 years ago, when it was posted. Or the 40+ years ago from the legal turmoil it references

    thank you, SG, for continuing to be speaking out, with clarity, and for bringing focus and sense to a conversation that is often bound to turn into nothing other than both screams and muffles

    with much appreciation,
    Werushka

    Reply

  11. J.Wellwisher
    Aug 27, 2021 @ 07:18:52

    A very sane voice. Thank you for sharing your views. I am sure you are a happy woman inspite of all that you have had to put up with..

    Reply

  12. generationnext
    Apr 03, 2022 @ 02:37:34

    I’d like to point out that #MeToo was not meant for women like you. It was hijacked by rich White women in Hollywood, most of which have money, prestige, full families, and stable home lives to bounce back from traumatic events like rape or sexual assault. #MeToo was started by a Black woman for BLACK WOMEN who, unlike you, was not raised by an actress and model with connections to big businessmen in Hollywood.

    I agree that you don’t have to feel traumatized by the experience, neither do you have to say the sex was horrible. He may have pushed himself on you, but if you felt you enjoyed yourself in the process, and that he’s “still a great guy” that was “gentle”, you’re in your right.

    Where you go wrong is when you suggest or allude to the idea that women who do feel real deep hurt and trauma are just “wallowing in their sorrow” and that those who do see sex as a “bad experience” after dealing with this trauma are somehow morally or mentally inferior to you, “acting like victims”. I would like to know if you’d been so strong if you’d gotten pregnant after the ordeal. I would like to know if you’d been so strong if you were poor, didn’t have mommy and daddy there to make sure you were financially comfortable and living in a nice home. The traumas of rape for many victims, outside of elites like yourself, often extend beyond the act itself. For Black women, this is the case.

    Where other people are going wrong is using you as their proof of the trauma real victims have experienced and using your story to expose Hollywood. Honestly, it is time to move on from your story because the incident doesn’t effect you and your story can not help the women who really need it. We should be focusing on the victims where rape really does harm, mentally, emotionally, and physically TO THEM, allowing them to have a voice, so they can feel powerful enough to combat those who escape justice after doing real harm through rape and sexual coercion. We all should be sending a warning to people who commit these acts, especially as anti-abortion laws sweep through the country. As an African American survivor of abuse myself, from a single parent household, without the same financial backing, I can’t say I can just move on like nothing happened and not feel scared to move in the world, which hurts me even more financially. But that doesn’t make your “back-bone” any better than mine. Your circumstances allow you to have that strength, along with a supportive mother.

    To add, I can’t say that you haven’t profited financially from this situation at all yourself. Is it not true that you received compensation? That also makes the experience less traumatic. Now, you can afford the therapy, counseling, and protections you need. For millions of the other girls, often girls of color, who get raped by men who never get caught, where’s their compensation? They can’t retire on any money. If they get pregnant at 13, without a financial backing, what do you think it does to their lives? I would have liked to see how “strong” some people would be then.

    Reply

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