Change #metoo to #ifoughtback

Change #metoo to #ifoughtback

Change #metoo to #ifoughtback

After Hollywood starlet Alyssa Milano launched a social media storm to expose sexual assault and harassment, I was dismayed to see how many of my female friends on social media joined the campaign and proclaimed themselves to be victims. The hashtag campaign was meant to expose the enormity of the problem after revelations against serial groper and rapist Harvey Weinstein rocked Hollywood.

On Sunday actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a note that read “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The sheer scope of the problem was vast, indeed. I was sickened to see how many people I know were victimized by scum.

But I did not join in the latest hashtag activism fad, and please let me explain why.

First, I don’t believe in waving the victim flag. There’s no pride in being prey, and I refuse to advertise a tragedy, and claim some kind of moral authority because of it.

Second, “sexual harassment” is many times a subjective issue. I’ve seen women get upset and claim sexual harassment because a man made an inappropriate joke at work, because a man they didn’t find attractive gave them a compliment, or because a man had a comic, cartoon, or picture pinned to his office wall that the female found objectionable. And because there’s a certain amount of subjectivity involved in this campaign, it waters down the very real, very traumatic subject of sexual harassment and rape. It promotes the concept of “rape culture” and victimhood, and dilutes the definition of sexual violence against women to whatever the “victim” wants it to be.

Third, it promotes a mob mentality – a mentality that advances the desire to be part of a group and the mindset that misery loves company. Instead of being appalled at the number of women who claim to have been sexually abused, the hashtag activists appear glad for the company, as if it somehow makes their plight more real to have others join them. Personally, I’d be thrilled if I was one of just a handful of women who experienced this, but instead these women seem to wallow in the sheer size of this repulsive swamp and celebrate when others fall in. Many of these people seem to rejoice that their cause has so many victims, as if the cause wasn’t real enough before. While I understand that having a lot of people with whom to commiserate helps healing to a degree, I can see it also promotes a certain pride in victimhood mentality, and that’s just not me.

Fourth, it excludes men. It also excludes women as predators. The implicit assumption is that only women are victimized, and only men are predators. A friend on FaceBook actually recounted an encounter in which someone chicksplained that “Saying guys can be assaulted in response to a #metoo post is like saying ‘all lives matter’ to a black man.” Pardon me while I pound my head into a wall until there’s a massive dent. The CDC reports that 1 in 71 men has been raped, but remember, that number only includes rapes that have been reported. It’s much harder for a man to report rape or even sexual harassment. It impugns their masculinity (You didn’t fight back and let someone take advantage of you? What kind of man are you?), it undermines their credibility (Yeah, right, sure you got groped! A real man would enjoy it!), and because of this, it’s vastly under-reported, even more so in the workplace. How likely is a man to report sexual assault or harassment, if he knows he will likely not be believed and will almost certainly be demeaned and derided as something less than a man for falling victim to sexual assault? I knew a guy who was groped by his female superior. She demanded sex in exchange for special treatment. I told him to report it. He refused, and said “I’m not worried about it. That’s just the way it is.” Sexual assault and sexual harassment isn’t a women problem, it’s an everyone problem.

Fifth, the #metoo campaign solves nothing. You read it right. It solves nothing. It prompts no action, other than momentary outrage on the Internet, after which, readers will move on to something else.

And finally, how many of the women who are posting #metoo on social media fought back? How many of them did something other post a hashtag on social media? Hollywood knew about Weinstein. Actresses are crawling out from under their rocks and claiming he abused them, and yet they fell all over themselves for decades to laud him and thank him for helping advance their careers! Where was their outrage when they were groped? Courney Love warned young actresses in 2005 to stay away from Weinstein. Gwyneth Paltrow in 1995 at least had the balls to tell then-boyfriend Brad Pitt that Weinstein groped her, and to his credit, Pitt threatened to beat the crap out of the hairy, fat pig if he ever laid hands on Paltrow again. Angelina Jolie had the courage to at least walk away after the pestilent creep pawed her. But overall, Hollywood was largely silent, blaming men writ large for the problem in Tinseltown, because PATRIARCHY or something.

Here’s a clue for you: the fact that men are “in charge,” and the fact that the majority of women still report to men in Hollywood isn’t the problem. The problem is that none of them had the courage to speak out. They allowed this to happen. They lauded him, kissed him, posed for pictures with him, and protected his veneer of benevolence, and by doing so, they allowed him to continue to victimize other women. It’s not about men being in charge. It’s about alleged victims helping perpetuate the cycle of abuse.

How many of these women stood up and exposed that odious, loathsome lech for what he really is? They didn’t. They were afraid for their careers. They were afraid he would sue them. And instead of having the courage to slap that pig down, they allowed other young women to be assaulted and harassed.

How many women on my FaceBook feed stood up? How many of them reported their assaults? How many of them fought to ensure their experiences were not repeated, and other women were not similarly victimized?

So, here’s where I reveal it all. I was sexually assaulted when I was a college student by a completely insane ex, who I later found out was sexually abused as a child by a relative, leading to some serious psychological issues. I was prevented by laws and regulations from carrying a personal firearm for protection, and I was left defenseless by the very government that was supposedly there to protect me from violence. I made sure he was arrested, and he was jailed, spent several years in prison, and ultimately deported (he was here legally, but that visa was revoked). I swore to myself right then and there that I would never become a victim again. Ever.

No, I was never sexually harassed at work. Yes, most of my supervisors were male. No, I was never threatened or offered promotions in exchange for sex – not in the private sector, and not in the Army. Ever. When a drunken supervisor demanded I date him, I looked him straight in the eye and told him to “Walk the fuck away. Now.” When an officer in my chain of command got a bit gropy on deployment, he received such a rebuke, that he begged forgiveness the next morning. I don’t consider these incidents “sexual harassment” per se, because I successfully slapped them down, because they would never have impacted my career, and frankly I don’t view ham-handed attempts at “hooking up” or dating to be a huge issue. Human beings desire human contact – especially on deployment. Additionally, two incidents in my eight years of service that resulted in absolutely nothing other than abject humiliation for the men involved aren’t what I would consider sexual harassment problem.

But that’s my experience. I wonder how many others would consider the incidents I described as “sexual harassment” and would gleefully fly that #metoo flag on their social media status.

My point here is that I would encourage victims to fight back. Fight back to ensure that the predator is held accountable. Fight back to protect other women who may become prey at the hands of these exploiters. Fight back for your dignity. Fight back for your honor. Defend yourself when needed, and use every tool at your disposal to do so.

It’s not enough to speak up and wave the victim flag. That hashtag proclaiming yourself to have been a victim will not give you moral authority.

Fighting back against your abuser will.

Change that #metoo to #ifoughtback. Proclaiming yourself to be a victim will not give you power. Ensuring that it doesn’t happen to others, will.

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18 Comments
  • Kate says:

    Yes. A thousand times.

  • Nina says:

    Excellent! I found the campaign problematic after seeing a post on FB that literally said that one’s trauma after sexual assault or harassment is acceptable UNLESS you voted for Trump. If you voted for Trump, your trauma doesn’t count! And people were agreeing with that! Belittling someone’s pain just because you have deemed who the victim voted for is the wrong person is so very wrong on all levels.

    That’s just one of the reasons why this #metoo campaign makes me uneasy.

  • Cindy C. says:

    Thank you! You’ve said all the right things I refuse to post #metoo. I want people to post what they’ve done about it or what they suggest we do going forward. Otherwise, the posting solves nothing.

  • Jenny North says:

    Thanks! 100%.

  • GWB says:

    They lauded him, kissed him, posed for pictures with him, and protected his veneer of benevolence, and by doing so, they allowed him to continue to victimize other women.

    Obviously, some of them are a LOT better actresses than I ever gave them credit for being onscreen.

    And, Marta, it sounds like you were definitely accosted, and you didn’t let it turn into harassment (an ongoing pattern).

    And, gentlemen, when your lady tells you she was accosted/harassed, don’t forget about it because “it only happened once” or “she handled it”. Make sure you’re paying attention to what’s going on with her, and you step up beside her when she needs it (and stand behind her when she’s got it handled all on her own). It’s one of the many ways you honor her.

    • Scott says:

      I’m with you GWB… and in the unlikely event that should this happen to my wife, and she didn’t promptly ventilate the offender, there’s not much in the world that would stop me from doing so.
      And yeah, a real man is there for his woman, no matter the circumstances.

  • Brat says:

    ‘First, I don’t believe in waving the victim flag…’ EXACTLY!

    Absolutely agree about the rest of the oh so silent men AND women..

    Thanks for this one… Sharing…

    #Ifoughtback

  • Kirk S. says:

    Something you wrote, describing how harassment is a subjective issue. You wrote, “because a man they didn’t find attractive gave them a compliment,” really hit hard.

    I work in an overly sensitive PC work environment, which my company promotes heavily. One day, I noticed a colleague didn’t look like she was feeling well. I asked how she was doing and suggested if she wasn’t feeling well, maybe she should take the rest of the day off. She didn’t say anything, so I let it be.

    Two hours later she came up to me at my desk. “How dare you talk about my appearance! I have a master’s degree and I worked hard to get to this position. How dare you!” I was stung, it really hurt.

    I would later find out from another co-worker that this person had left another location because of “sexual harassment” claims against a fellow cubicle mate.

    I’m acutely aware of my work and social surroundings. I work mainly with women and I treat all of them like they are the ticking time bomb, waiting to point the finger at me, screaming “#metoo!”

    I may still hold the door open for women, habits are hard to break. But unless I know them real well, I’m never allowing myself to compliment anyone. It’s just too damned dangerous.

    • Scott says:

      Very true Kirk, and what a damn shame! The left is doing all they can to destroy civilization, and this is a big step in that direction

  • Scott says:

    Marta,
    As always, great post. It’s horrible that you had to go through that assault, but bravo for fighting back, and making him pay. I agree that the term is thrown around far too loosely, as was reinforced just recently in a “workplace bullying” seminar at my job, and that such use trivializes actual assaults.
    As for your comment “someone chicksplained that “Saying guys can be assaulted in response to a #metoo post is like saying ‘all lives matter’ to a black man.” Pardon me while I pound my head into a wall until there’s a massive dent.”, I would suggest that a better result would be had by finding the person doing the “chicksplaining” and using her head to create the massive dent… just saying

  • Jenny says:

    I get that this is just one person’s perspective, but this is my perspective
    #itriedtofightback but people at the party laughed as he dragged me into the room #itriedtofightback but I was afraid of how much worse he would hurt me if I did #itriedtofightback but my guidance counselor told me it wasn’t worth it to report my rape in high school #itriedtofightback when a friend took advantage of me in college, but instead my boyfriend broke up with me #itriedtofightback by telling my story, but what good did it do for me to be just one person telling their experience? #metoo isn’t about “misery loves company,” it’s about promoting awareness and seeking empathy and validation through others’ understanding of our pain #metoo because there is strength in numbers, and the hope of this movement is that it gives others the courage to speak up and bring to light the pervasive problem that is perpetuated by the silence of its victims #metoo because this caught the attention of a large audience, and many have recognized the need for change and are now committed to make a difference #metoo because we need to stop victim blaming and saying that “we allowed this to happen” because we didn’t fight back #metoo because I am not ashamed of having been victimized, because no one should be made to feel less-than for someone else’s crime against you #metoo because not everyone can fight back – this isn’t about a male/female issue, it is a power/strength issue #metoo because everyone should be part of #WEfoughtback

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      Jenny, first, I’m really sorry this has happened to you. As I said in the piece, it’s happened to way too many people. I fought back during my rape by acquiescing to his demands, because I was disarmed and I knew there was no one there to help me. I did what he wanted, because I wanted to live. I fought back later through legal channels, and I was successful, but not everyone is, and I recognize that too.

      Second, how many people are unaware that this has been going on, and continues to go on? A Hollywood writer recently wrote on his Facebook that they all knew and did nothing. Awareness is not the issue. Silence and the refusal to fight back, because job, because success, because… whatever reason – THAT, to me, is the problem. This isn’t victim blaming. This is the truth – when we do nothing, we allow this to go on. When these Hollywood starlets continued to genuflect in front of Harvey Weinstein despite the fact that he harassed, assaulted, and raped some of them, while his pals covered it up, more people get victimized. While I’m glad you find solace in confiding to others, I and many other women do not, because these aren’t people I know. These aren’t people I care about. I don’t care if they know I was raped, but I’m certainly not going to shove it in their faces, because I know they ultimately don’t care. They’re strangers on the Internet.

      If we are to stop this from happening, we need more than a hashtag campaign, advertising our plight. We need to not remain silent. We may not always be successful, but sometimes we will, and if I can stop one more person from experiencing what I went through, I will, goddamit!

      Yes, we ALL need to fight back, but it’s up to each individual to begin it.

      You tried to fight back, and that’s good. It’s not always a resounding success, but it’s a start.

    • GWB says:

      Not to minimize anything you have dealt with, but…

      #metoo because there is strength in numbers

      Not really. Your very first line (after the intro) is evidence of that. The strength in numbers lies in actually fighting back.

      I get the “metoo” thing. I also get the “Ifightback” bit. “Me too” is not enough, if it isn’t accompanied by “Hell no, I won’t let this happen again.” And, despite what feminists think, it won’t be enough if men don’t also stand up in the same way, defending their wives, daughters, mothers, girlfriends, and co-workers.
      (BTW, I’d love to kick your ex-bf’s azz right now, along with a bunch of other folks.)

    • Sunshine says:

      Thank you for speaking back against this article. To the author: No one is “gleefully waving a victim flag”, and if you imagine so, you need therapy. How dare you shame anyone who has been through horrible things that you yourself have experienced before that you know are traumatic and awful?? Where is your empathy? You have quite a jaded and twisted view of things that have happened to others that you should not be so judgmental about. Try having some compassion and kindness for your next article.

  • aAlabamaDill says:

    How about #Ifightback , don’t want to confuse anybody.

  • Timmy says:

    Just remember, all the women who didn’t report these crimes enabled the alleged harasser to target other women.

  • Tara says:

    Thank you!!!

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