With the emergence of all the allegations being made about Harvey Weinstein, I'm finding myself a little bit frustrated. And I'm not quite sure how to explain what I'm feeling without crossing a line into dishonoring the incredible courage it takes to come forward and share about sexual assault. Here's where my concern lies: in our valiant efforts to support victims who come forward (which we UNDOUBTEDLY need to support), sometimes a subtle shaming subtext takes place for those who choose not to come forward. It's obviously incredibly brave and always the right thing for a victim to come forward IF she/he chooses to do so. HOWEVER, each person who is victimized by another person, especially someone who is in authority, especially when the victim has been victimized recently, especially when the victim is young and has disproportionately less power than the perpetrator, should be given the space to make the decision to come forward or not to come forward based on what they're willing or capable of doing. Meaning, sometimes people don't come forward AND THAT'S OKAY. There are a myriad of reasons why people choose to stay silent. And if you're unaware of how we threaten victims very lives, their entire future and their reputation, that would be a great place to start in investigating rape culture. Of course, it's always awesome when people come forward. It shows a willingness to risk all the things I just said and that's HUGE. It benefits society when victims speak because it provides accountability and potential punishment for a crime. BUT when we emphasize that, it also makes me feel like we're putting that responsibility on the victim. That if a victim does not come forward, they don't care about potential future victims. That has a tint of shame, am I right? When someone is victimized, they ALWAYS hope and pray it doesn't happen to someone else. BECAUSE IT'S FUCKING AWFUL.
But, ultimately, the blame for future crimes committed by a perpetrator is actually the perpetrators to take. I know it's a revolutionary concept, but if a horrible, power hungry, predator victimizes people again and again, PERHAPS the ramifications of those horrendous acts should be placed on them and them alone.
The victims (or survivors as I often like to say) may feel empowered or even obligated to speak up. And if they do, they should. And they deserve a freaking medal. But if they can't find the strength or the will to do so, when or if further victimization happens, guess what? That's on the one who committed the crimes. Don't make victims feel guilty when their perpetrator hurts other people. THAT'S NOT THEIR FAULT. And perpetuating that shame is part of rape culture. If you don't understand why survivors stay silent, ask a question versus assuming something about their character or even their very story if they do come forward later.
Also, I'm finding myself frustrated that so many people have come forward to denounce Weinstein without taking any potential responsibility or look within to see if they are perpetuating anything in regard to rape culture. This does not happen in a vacuum. We don't get to look at Harvey like the criminal he is and pretend that none of us have anything to do with that. We've created and perpetuated a culture that fosters this kind of criminal, predatory behavior. Hell, WE ELECTED A PRESIDENT who bragged about doing this kind of shit. Of course, if you've never violated another human being sexually, it seems like an appropriate thing to denounce. And we should. But just like with gun control or police brutality, toxic masculinity is a dynamic that seeps into so much of our culture and daily lives. Perhaps we are contributing to it in some way? I don't know. That's for you to determine in self-reflection. But I find it to be hypocritical when all of Hollywood denounces a pervert without taking into account that this shit went on for A LONG TIME and with the awareness of a lot of people. Maybe not to the full extent of what was going on. But it takes a village to allow this kind of despicable behavior. People employed by this pervert had to help him create these opportunities. And no, my readers and myself are probably not part of the Hollywood elite so I think we can just wash our hands of disgusting Harvey. But are there other Harveys in other industries? ABSOLUTELY. So take a look around. Take a look within. Denounce the victimization of women and then actually contribute to dismantling the culture that makes this dynamic thrive. Interrupt incidents you witness where women are being demeaned. Speak up when women in professional settings are being sexualized. Push back when adults try to sexualize your daughters with repressive, sexist, one-sided dress codes. Teach your daughters to set boundaries around entitlement to touch or discuss their bodies, their clothing, their very sexuality from a young age. And men, look within. Do you see women as conquests? Do you evaluate a woman's work performance in conjunction with her attractiveness? Are you threatened when women assert themselves based on merit or idea? Rape culture is a CULTURE not a person. Whether we like it or not, we're breathing the same air and it just may have seeped within us too. So keep denouncing. Survivors, speak if you're able and willing. But know, this is a group effort and locking up one predator isn't enough. This is way bigger than nasty Harvey.