It’s Time to Change the Conversation

I am so tired.

Tired of having to explain. Tired of having to defend.

For the past few weeks, I’ve processed a ball of anger seeping in my stomach, and now I feel spent.

When the news of Harvey Weinstein came out, I actually read an article, thought, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”, and moved on. I feel a bit guilty about that reaction, but for someone who has been sexually harassed and sexually assaulted, nothing surprises me.

Then, a few days after the news broke, a relative of mine posted a rant about the Hollywood liberal elites protecting Weinstein. I wasn’t quite sure what she was trying to say, so I dug into the comments of her post and there it was…. a comment of HERS that made my insides boil.

“Why didn’t Ashley Judd say something sooner? Liberals!”

Did I mention she was a SHE?

My first reaction was, “What the heck? How can you not support the victim?” Then, I thought, “Must be nice to never have had something happen to you that silenced you.” Where was the compassion? I mean, I know it takes empathy, but this one shouldn’t be hard.

After a few hours of stewing over the fact that a fellow female actually placed blame on a victim of sexual harassment, I then briefly moved on to another part of her comment.

“Liberals!”

Um. Hmmm. While many, many politicians have sexually harassed women, and men, and some have actually sexually assaulted people, politics has no place in this discussion.

I mean, sexual harassment and assault do have to do with power, but that is not exclusive to the world of politics. However, that thought was brief. I moved back to the most important issue.

I still cannot believe that some have not evolved enough to see it is not the victim’s fault. All to often, people ask what a woman was wearing, or where she was at the time.  I rarely hear questions like, “What the hell is wrong with (the person who ACTUALLY did something wrong)?”

I posted an article on social media that came out shortly after Weinstein was called out. It was about Donna Karan saying women should watch how they behave and what they wear.  Again, another woman who is quick to lay blame on the victim.

I had flashbacks to my rape. I still hold guilt over it, because I was 13, I had a beer, and I was out late with my best friend. Many of you might read that and say, “See? You should have been in bed, not having a beer.” Sure. That is why I have the guilt. However, if this had happened to someone else, I would first say, “What the hell is wrong with that 21-year old sicko?” That would be my first reaction.

However, this was not my first assault, as I describe in an earlier blog here. So, it must be my fault. And, let me tell you, a couple of people at the time told me it was.

Oh! That takes me back to my relative’s comment: “Why didn’t Ashley Judd say something sooner?” Um, because, we are ashamed. We are scared. We feel more alone than we ever have in our lives. Most of us were targeted because we already feel “less than”.

We feel like we are the only ones.

I believe that is why the #MeToo campaign has affected millions in a positive way. Heck, it affected me more than I thought a hashtag campaign ever could. I am finding out that I am actually not the only one who has been assaulted. I’m not the only one sexually harassed in the workplace.

We are not the only ones.  We are not alone.

So, what is it we can do to change the perceptions? How can we make sure victims don’t feel alone?

The best comment I read on Facebook came from a woman I admire so much. I won’t share her name because I didn’t ask her if I could.  However, I need to share her comment.

“Victim shaming is deplorable. It is a pretty sad state of affairs if a man is unable to control himself when a woman has bare shoulders. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, and that is on the perpetrator of the harassment and/or assault. When the crime of rape is committed on a woman, we say she was raped as if it was her fault. We should say someone raped her, because that person committed the crime of rape, not the victim.”

What a simple, but profound change we could make if we all spoke about assaults or harassment cases this way! Instead of saying someone was a victim of something, say someone actually DID something wrong.

If you have ever been a victim of sexual harassment or assault, I hope you know you are not alone. I feel like this is the good that is coming out of having a President who thinks it is ok to do it, and now having a Hollywood executive called out for it. I feel like maybe so many of us will stop feeling alone. We will stop feeling like victims, and start supporting women (or sometimes men) who have been victims.

By the looks of the #MeToo campaign, there are many people who have assaulted or harassed people. (See what I did there?)

We have strength in numbers. Let’s join together and change the WAY we speak.

And, most of all, let’s make sure we DO speak!

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