Most of you know about the #metoo campaign currently sweeping across social media. Some of you may even have joined, some may be avoiding the posts, some may be feeling triggered, others angry. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I feel, I’m still working through it and probably will be for some time. These feelings stem from multiple places and before I delve into them, please know that anyone who has been brave enough to come forward, I see you and think it’s a truly heroic decision. At the end of the day you made the choice that was right for you. For those of you who have not, I think you’re just as brave. No one has the right to make you tell your story, to share your hurt. That is for you to decide and you alone.
You have done nothing wrong by not sharing.
And I guess that’s where I start, because even as I type that, I feel guilty. About my own decision, not to post, not to add “me too” to the movement that dominates my feed. Every time I see a new post, a new friend speaking out, I feel a twinge of guilt. Of shame. Of complete and utter panic. How can I call myself a feminist if I won’t share my story? How can I say I support fellow survivors if I don’t type those two words… two simple words. Me too. And yet every time I go to, something stops me.
I’m not a woman, I’m non-binary (AFAB)
Somehow every time I see a status that calls for others to join, it’s usually followed by “ if all women…” and I’m not. Does that mean I have no voice in this ? That I should leave it to those more clearly aligned with “woman?” I know, statistically non-binary and trans people are more often at risk, but that doesn’t change the swell of anxiety I have every time I think about joining this discussion. Perhaps it’s because I’ve only been out for a short while. That I’m still coming to terms with my own identity without also exposing yet another facet of it. I see men sharing their experiences and getting shut down. I hear the calls for let the women speak, and all I can think (perhaps selfishly) is where do I belong? Perhaps this stems from something more shadowy.
Sexual assault and I are no strangers.
We’ve known each other a long time, but it wasn’t until a year or so ago that I came to terms with the full scope of the situation. To be honest, I’m still wrapping my head around it. I’m terrified that it doesn’t count. The thought is irrational and steeped in misogynistic crap. I mean I know that sexual assault is rarely some stranger in a bush, that a lot of the time it’s someone you know. But there is a part of me, the part that internalised the bullshit no means no culture, that thinks that because I never uttered the word out loud, I deserved it. After all, how could they know? The other part of me is like if you can’t tell that the person you’re sleeping with is not there, you shouldn’t be allowed to interact with people. Sometimes the examples are easily for me to call out. For example, vomiting mid blowjob and having my head held in place – not okay. And yet still that voice says, “but you didn’t say no” and no I didn’t. And my all too eager to forget mind almost latches on. Because while we’re taught that we can, we’re also taught that we can’t say no. You don’t want to be a cocktease, a blue baller. I mean what kind of person makes out with someone and has been hot and heavy and then changes their mind?
Because we’re not taught consent.
We’re not taught that we can change our minds at any time. We’re taught that no means no, which means in the absence of a no it’s a yes. That’s just not how it works. Yes means yes and the absence of a wildly enthusiastic and conscientious yes is a great big ‘no’. And I know this, but it doesn’t change the fear that my experiences will somehow not be enough. That they just don’t count. That I was asking for it. Isn’t that in part why this whole campaign started?
For some reason I find it infinitely harder to write about assault rather than talk about it. Maybe writing feels more permanent somehow? Maybe it’s because it makes it real once it’s written down. Whatever the reason writing gives me a tightness in my chest, and an imminent desire to throw up. It may also come down to less control.
If I speak I can try and choose who sees it. But on the great bad internet? That’s everyone.
People who know, who don’t know and who may not want to know. Perhaps it’s a cop out, worrying that I’ll have to put my friends and family through that. After all it’s my pain right, it should be about me? But it’s not. And the thought of it spiralling out of control, of the conversations I’m not ready or willing to have that some people feel entitled to? It makes me sick. And then the shame sets in and a voice asks, “aren’t you part of the problem?” But then I remember how triggering these last few days have been for me. How triggering each new post is. The sheer volume is overwhelming and yes that’s the point, but also maybe some survivors don’t need a deluge of reminders? It’s comforting and brave to come forward but also this is the internet, there is backlash, and what if you do it wrong?
Anyone sharing their story is brave. We do not get to tear other survivors down, we do not get to coerce people into sharing their stories or police them when they do.
That’s the crux of the issue. I’m torn and #metoo doesn’t have space for that.
I’m torn about my place in a largely binary narrative. Torn by my anger at feeling coerced, by my guilt about not speaking up and torn that this even had to be said in the first place.
Whatever happens, something needs to change. Actually some things need to change. For what it’s worth, I’m always going to believe someone who comes forward, and I will preach active consent and destroying horrific double standards and work towards the downfall of the kyriarchy until I die. But will I type two simple words?
I don’t know.