Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.
CW: Sexual Assault/Violence
Today was both #NationalComingOutDay and #InternationalDayoftheGirl. While these are important and empowering sentiments to have and keep having, there needs to be more of effort to making society an actual safe and equal place for women and LGBTQ+ folks to live. For anyone who is marginalized there is an obstacle course manual that we’re constantly referencing as we go through life. Living in a white patriarchal heteronormative society requires us to anticipate every possible outcome to survive. (Check out this article from a POC perspective on what that looks like). For some people, the decision to come out or to report an assault or rape can mean anything from the loss of a career, family, money, and reputation or even one’s own life.
In terms of coming out with my bisexuality, I’ve been very lucky to have friends and family that are supportive and don’t think there’s anything wrong with me or that I’m going through a phase until I meet “the right guy.” But, as we know, there is still a lot of hatred toward the LGBTQ+ community here and around the world and many youths become homeless because their families won’t accept them. Brazil is one of the more recent countries to start cracking down on LGBTQ+ communities with a judge approving “conversion therapy” and in Chechnya gay and bisexual men are being murdered in what’s being called a “Gay Purge.” We need to do better.
We also need to do better when it comes to rape culture. I’m so sick of writing about this. I’m so sick of rarely really feeling safe, rarely feeling like I’ll get ahead in my career, rarely feeling 100% comfortable in my relationships (personal and professional) with men because I’m just waiting for them to try something. I’ve been conditioned to feel this way and to try to avoid any situation (which is basically every situation you can possibly think of) because these things have happened so many times to me. They have happened so many times to women and some men I know. They happen to millions of women all over the world every day. So many women are conditioned to not trust men because we’re treated like children, nags, and receptacles for getting them off. It’s disgusting.
What makes this whole thing even more devious is sometimes these men have so much power we’ve been told we just need to “play the game” and we’ll be fine. First of all, that is never true and secondly, it’s abusive as fuck. Here’s a quote from model and actress Cara Delevingne recounting Harvey Weinstein assaulting her:
“When I first started to work as an actress, I was working on a film and I received a call from Harvey Weinstein asking if I had slept with any of the women I was seen out with in the media. It was a very odd and uncomfortable call… I answered none of his questions and hurried off the phone but before I hung up, he said to me that if I was gay or decided to be with a woman especially in public that I’d never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood. A year or two later, I went to a meeting with him in the lobby of a hotel with a director about an upcoming film. The director left the meeting and Harvey asked me to stay and chat with him. As soon as we were alone he began to brag about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had made their careers and spoke about other inappropriate things of a sexual nature. He then invited me to his room. I quickly declined and asked his assistant if my car was outside. She said it wasn’t and wouldn’t be for a bit and I should go to his room. At that moment I felt very powerless and scared* but didn’t want to act that way hoping that I was wrong about the situation. When I arrived I was relieved to find another woman in his room and thought immediately I was safe. He asked us to kiss and she began some sort of advances upon his direction. I swiftly got up and asked if he knew that I could sing. And I began to sing… I thought it would make the situation better… more professional… like an audition… I was nervous. After singing I said again that I had to leave. He walked me to the door and stood in front of it and tried to kiss me on the lips. I stopped him and managed to get out of the room. I still got the part for the film and always thought he gave it to me because of what happened. Since then I felt awful that I did the movie. I felt like I didn’t deserve the part. I was so hesitant about speaking out… I didn’t want to hurt his family. I felt guilty as if I did something wrong. I was also terrified that this sort of thing had happened to so many women I know but no one said anything because of fear.I want women and girls to know that being harassed or abused or raped is NEVER their fault and not talking about it will always cause more damage than speaking the truth. I am relieved to be able to share this… I actually feel better and I’m proud of the women who are brave enough to speak… this isn’t easy but there are strength in our numbers. As I said, this is only the beginning. In every industry and especially in Hollywood, men abuse their power using fear and get away with it. This must stop. The more we talk about it, the less power we give them. I urge you all to talk and to the people who defend these men, you are part of the problem.”(*I made these particular words bold).
This is only one example of the bullshit Harvey Weinstein pulled for 30 YEARS. This was an open secret for 30 years and people just let it happen. How worthless must women be seen as in the eyes of so many to allow this monster to abuse his power and assault and rape women who were trying to make it in their chosen industry. The fact that other women were used as a tactic to make Delevingne feel safe in a dangerous situation is horrifying. The use of physical intimidation and threats is classic manipulation. The trying to rationalize and give this man the benefit of the doubt when her boundaries are so clearly being ignored is incredibly sad and upsetting. The only thing I can compare the actual feeling to is when you’re watching a horror film and you get a sense of impending doom in your chest because you know something bad is going to happen. And she knows something bad is going to happen but feels powerless to do anything about it. On the flip side of the misogyny coin is Mike Pence. I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet try and say that if we lived with the “moral compass” that Pence exhibits then that would solve a lot of these problems. Except it wont because his point of view, just like Weinstein’s, is that women are liars and men just can’t help themselves. Let me make something very clear:
MEN. IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU CAN BE NEAR A WOMAN WITHOUT WITNESSES BECAUSE YOU INHERENTLY THINK SOMETHING SEXUAL WILL HAPPEN, YOU ARE A DANGER TO SOCIETY.
STOP BLAMING WOMEN FOR TRAUMA YOU CAUSE. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.
We live in a society where we’ve brought people up to believe that women are irrational and cannot be trusted. Sometimes to the point where women can be so dissociated that they don’t know how to trust themselves. This makes it difficult to feel safe reporting crimes if you already know you’re not going to be believed. That’s partly why when one person comes forward more people flood out in the open. It feels safer when you’re not alone. And Delevingne is right, we do just need to keep naming these people so that hopefully the justice system will begin to change in a way that will actually serve justice.
Trauma at the hands of men is very tricky. I want to name my rapist and abusers, but I’m still stuck in fear. I believe it is a responsibility to name them, I’m just not ready. I still shut down. I’m still traumatized. And that’s just where I am in my healing journey. I’m glad that these conversations are happening more often and I’m hopeful about male allies are beginning to speak up and take women’s stories seriously. We still need to do better. Our country elected a sexual predator to be President of the United States. We have a long way to go.
For another in-depth take on why survivors/victims don’t come forward, Evan Rachel Wood posted this today.
Katie Louchheim is thoroughly disgusted a majority of the time.