Our Little (big) Secret.
This month felt like a really big wave swept through. A big, gross wave of secrets and dirt and everything we probably already knew and were telling ourselves to ignore.
What it also felt like was a sweeping wave of relief for a multitude of women who had likely decided their wrongs would never be righted,their story never told.
Now, I'm not anti-men by ANY means. I have three brothers and a dad I love and a wonderful boyfriend. But I also have a son. And I would hate to think that he grew up in a world where we still treated women like women are being treated in society without saying I honestly did all I could to make a difference.
In the days following Harvey Weinstein's dethroning, I posted "Me Too" on Facebook in an act of solidarity with other abuse survivors/secret keepers. I don't tend to partake in Facebook acts of changing profile photos or reposting statuses all that often. It's not that I don't find it important - I just like to know the difference the post is making other than my 600 friends seeing that I care about something. That day I felt the gravity of my post as I clicked enter. I felt powerful.
So why is it a secret? Why is there even a need to post "me too" or #whywomendontspeak? Well, that's it exactly. Why don't women speak? Why are we afraid to say ME TOO and shout it from the rooftops? I can't speak for all women, only myself.
We are scared.
Telling anyone anything that happens in your life ever is scary. I've spoken about anxiety, PN depression, OCD and bullying but it never gets "easier"to spill your guts all over the internet. We got taught real quick that the internet is forever and you should fear it always. It's also scary to think that no one else will feel what you're feeling or have gone through what you have gone through and you'll feel even more alone than you do now.
Not everyone's abuser is Harvey Weinstein, but that doesn't mean you can't be equally afraid of them. We fear further attacks, further abuse and retaliation but we also fear the worst: that people won't believe us. The fear of no one believing the most heavy secret you are carrying is reason enough to never share it with anyone. For me, not only is the fear of no one believing me very real, but more so the knowledge that people who I have told chose to ignore it. I shared so many stories of things that had happened to me with "friends" who chose to look away because it was the easy option, or more beneficial to them. We are asking women to share the inner most sacred weakness but not providing an environment where they are protected and nourished if they do. If we aren't protecting each other in the aftermath then all we are really asking for is gossip. And I've learnt the hard way how much people love gossip.
We think we can't change it.
From the inside, it's impossible to get out. We have formed a society that forgives too easy and turns a blind eye. It's like if you started drowning while you were swimming and people can kinda see you're drowning but they're a bit far away and maybe they didn't see you because of the sun and "oh look, someone else is closer" oh and I have my own swimming to worry about and I don't wanna go causing trouble. I'm not saying that I'm any better, I write this knowing full well I could have done more to save others from drowning the same way, but when you are in the water you can't see a way to get out of it. This month we saw an actual shift in dynamics between powerful men and their victims. People spoke up and finally some weight was given to it and measures were taken. We saw the usual balance of power shift and there were conversations being had and ideas being shared that had not happened in other recent reports of a male abuse of power over a female. But you also have to consider, it's 2017 and this has been happening for years so when all you know is fear it will take a few more reactions like this to get a full-stage revolution happening on a localised scale.
We will get attacked.
By this I mean our character. By making accusations against someone else we run the risk of character assassination as means of rebuttal. Maybe publicly, maybe within your family or friendship group or even just online or in forums. Weinstein's victims have spoken about how they were petrified of his clout in hollywood and the weight he carried and they feared that their reputations would be ruined if they said anything. I feel this partners with the fear of not being believed. We are so scared that the truth will be ignored and instead the abuser celebrated that we just bury it down instead.
We have children.
If this was my only reason, I still feel it'd be enough. I would protect my son with every breath of my life.
You don't want us to.
The main reason I feel women don't speak out? Because we know you don't really want us to. If what's done in the shadows becomes public knowledge then we have to admit it's as big of a problem as it is. We will have to do something about it. Things will change. It will be hard and take a lot of work. If we start to admit in society that there are wrongs that we will NOT take lightly anymore then we need to do a lot of work overhauling our society and some people are just not ready for that. Growing up as a girl you learn to shut your mouth a lot because people aren't positively responding to what you have to say. Now as a grown up woman I find that to be, sadly, even more so. We can't speak out about sexual assault, domestic abuse, financial abuse, mental abuse, abortion, miscarriage without feeling we are sharing too much, being too open. The platform for women to speak on these issues is infrequent compared to the overwhelming occurrence of them. Once we start the ball rolling on calling out sexual abuse and assault there's likely to be an avalanche of confessions from women that felt too repressed and scared to come forward earlier, is society ready for that?
So today, I acknowledge that writing "Me too" is not saving any lives, it's not raising any money or providing any shelters. However it is telling one, two, 700 other women that they're not alone and this is only the beginning of the fight. And I'm happy to get behind anything that does that.
I apologise for not being stronger, not fighting the fight and not loving myself enough earlier. I know other women have suffered because I didn't stand up. But there's power in numbers. And it's time.