I’m not sure what to make of the #metoo movement. I write some things in private logs, but I’ll share a little snippet here because it’s relevant. I once had a part-time job at a renaissance festival from age 18-22. I have a lot of stories and fond memories from that place, and I hope to share them with you sometime. However, I will say this about the sexual climate at fest:
“When I attended as a kid, I was enchanted by princesses, knights, and wholesome chivalry. As an adult and a member of the cast, I saw fest in a completely different light. Wow! The place reeks with bawdy humor. It’s amazing that I didn’t notice it as a kid, so kudos to the performers for shielding younger members of the audience! The sexual undertones were always present, but I never felt threatened by them. You’d think I’d be a prime target, right? A pretty, naive, young woman. No, I felt empowered and enjoyed navigating my way around this new conceptual space. I eventually found my home among a group of people that ‘had my back’ by supporting and protecting me. There were definitely some guys at fest that gave off a ‘creep’ vibe, and I was sensible enough to steer clear of them. I never felt compelled to complain about the behavior of a co-worker, but if I needed to escalate an issue I knew I’d be able to report it to appropriate authority.” –Quote taken from a personal private log.
[More on Renaissance Festival]
In light of some of the things I heard from women in a YouTube panel (discussed below), I feel a little annoyed when I’m being discussed as being a “vulnerable, infant-like, can’t-make-sensible-decisions-or-understand-my-situation” kind of woman. I know I was barely out of my teens, but come on. What do you take me for? I’m not stupid; I can size up the sexual climate. I might not know everything about it, but I can figure out some high-risk stuff to avoid. I also didn’t go around with a chip on my shoulder waiting to become someone’s victim. I had a handful of voluntary sexual experiences at fest, and those experiences have all been positive for me. I’m not sure whether I’m lucky, OR I’m a good communicator and manage partner expectations, OR …hell, maybe I am actually dumb… In retrospect, I feel that all of my partners were well-matched for me, and I don’t think they had ill-intent. Nor did I feel like I needed to turn them into demons. I know this is not the case for all women.
I selected this image because it was sexually provocative, but harmless and fun. This depicts my feelings on sexual innuendo, and my journey as a woman through sexually charged spaces. Guess what, ladies? You are going to have to work with men. You’re going to go to social functions with men present. You’re going to give birth to boys and raise them into men. We all need to figure out what it’s going to take to clearly communicate with each other. Sometimes miscommunications will happen, and I think it’s important to have a good sense of humor about it.
I respect and revere the actual act of sex itself, and reserve it for the very few. I set principled boundaries with the people that are interested in me. A lot of men are good at respecting the boundary of marriage and long-term relationships. Some men are just gross—they get ignored. Some men are nice, but they’re not what I was looking for in the moment—they will get politely turned away. I respect men who respect me, and I am aware that they are human beings with feelings too. While I have had some borderline experiences before and since fest, I followed my instinct and did what felt right in the moment. I view sexual tension as a “game” or a negotiation. I’ve had no regrets, nor trauma. I know a lot of women don’t feel this way about sexual culture. Maybe I’m just really sheltered and naive. Tell me how wrong I am in the comments.
I found an interesting YouTube panel discussion and took some notes below. While I’ve at least listened all the way through I haven’t quite finished taking notes on it (second time through). You can listen to the video and read the notes below if you want to.
At a high-level, I appreciated this video because I could hear the two opposing viewpoints in juxtaposition with each other which can help me organize my thoughts, and figure out what’s resonating with me and what’s falling flat.
Red text: words paraphrased from the speaker that I resonated with.
Blue text:”aside” thoughts from my head. I might use a quotation from the speaker, marked with quotes.
“(?)” Means whatever the speaker just said confused me.
- Has metoo gone too far? or not far enough?
- Has it had any effect?
- Has it reinforced the stereotype of women being powerless
- Destroyed people and careers, people should be innocent until proven guilty and not tried in the courts of public opinion.
Germaine Greer – First speaker
- Rape or violation of women’s autonomy happen every day and is not isolated to Hollywood
- Story about the country house party in Kent. Friend and her husband had a questionable encounter with her husband. Was it rape? Maybe. But would she want to press charges and send her husband away to jail for 7 years? Rape doesn’t always fit the reality of women’s lives. She argues that rape is sensationalized as a bloody and violent crime. In reality, it’s not always so black and white. It’s something that just happens when you don’t understand each other terribly well. Sex is a bloodsport, people take punishment, people get over it. The relationship survives or it doesn’t. But this brouhaha with movie moguls and women in their hotel rooms, is really neither here nor there. If you want to rescue women who are being ground down in a damned relationship, this is not the way to go about it. #metoo has NOTHING to do with the anguish of real life.
- College campuses. 1/5 women will encounter some kind of sexual abuse in their time there. It’s been true since the 1980s and nothing has changed that statistic. Why? Efforts were made to reduce the amount of proof needed to throw someone out of the college. Mentioned a new software called Callisto. Confidential reporting system to report abuses. Matches to other reports that are held. 90% of the offenses are being committed by 6% of the men. Some of the “convictions” have been against men who were not capable of machinations needed to really commit an atrocity. Confidentiality is key. The minute you decided to “out” your rapist, it all turns into mess. Once you try to convict a rapist, the two narratives of woman and the man only get partially told. She tells a specific story of a woman sensationally campaigning against a man, he was innocent, and his career had been permanently affected by her actions. Don’t forget that even though we want to defend women, that we also want to defend men and their vulnerabilities. What we REALLY want is how can we get our sons and daughters to understand each other better? She says X happened, He says it was Y. They both misunderstood each other. Instead of going for the jugular, can we try to push for better mediation? You understand that when we go for the extreme litigation, the only people that make money are the lawyers. No healing of the wounds, no repairing of the career of the man who had been found “not guilty” by the law, but had been judged guilty by the courts of popular opinion.
Helena Kennedy – 18:09
- Older women need to stick up for the younger. It’s more than actresses. #metoo covers a range of conduct, catcalling, groping, rubbing, humiliation, degradation. It’s hard to secure conviction once some kind of consent was given to intimacy. We don’t want injustice perpetrated on men. But let’s talk about the failure of justice on women. Women killed by their partners. Boys as young as 12 subjected to porn on their phones which gives them wrong ideas about how women should be treated as sexual partners.
- She follows up a fairly lengthy diatribe about porn with “Yes we should demand change” which on the heels of what she was just talking about, is not realistic. It’s not realistic to expect change in the porn industry. I’d have to do a deeper dive into this area and understand the public perception and history of this industry. It’d be so interesting.
- “Power is coded male. And we have to change that” – Uh, no.
- Gotta play the race card too, huh? “Isn’t it shocking that there isn’t a black woman on this panel?” – I’m sorry but this really turns me off of her talk.
- Women who complain to authorities are dismissed and silenced. Tells story of 100s of adolescent girls groomed by the Rotherham Gangs. Women are shamed when they speak up. They are told what happens to them is their fault. That is the power of patriarchy. Cultural norms created by men and sold to women.
- Then she tries to cap it off with “We want men and women to work together as equals and have great relationships” How can they do that when you clearly have such a low regard of men and their so-called “patriarchy”?
- There are distinctions between ass squeezing and sleazy remarks. No one is suggesting there is an equivalence. We all live in the same soup in which women’s inequality is suspended(?). Women learn survival techniques to deflect the sexual culture. We hid our hurt.
- Well maybe we should uh… put on our adult pants and not hide our hurt. Say something. Speak up for yourself. Stop being polite and just fucking let him have it.
- Women feel like they have to give blowjobs to get overtime or get a weekend off with the kids. I would just love to know just how prevalent this is these days. Maybe I’m really isolated though. As a lawyer she does not want to see a lessening of the standards of proof. She caps her remarks with an admiration for Germaine. “We felt inspired by you. We’re all travelling in the same direction to make a better world.” She seems to accuse Germaine of not being “with” the new feminists, which already feels like a cheap shot. She probably IS with the feminists, but she’s accepting a more nuanced view. We should show the same generosity of spirit to others who also want to end discrimination and violence. Who could disagree with that?
Melanie Phillips – 31:50
- I am still a feminist, I just define it a bit differently. Goes without saying that we all disapprove of rape or sexual assault of any kind, unwanted sexual advances, etc. Powerful men and ordinary men can behave very badly toward women. Metoo has become a movement that has turned into demonizing men in general. Presents men as brutish and oppressive and women as their victims.
- Disproportion – Rape is a serious crime and is rightly regarded as so. There’s no argument here. However it’s gone too far because men are being pilloried for groping, flirting, putting arm around shoulder, leering, etc. It’s brutish, pathetic, ill-judged, and stupid but should NOT be lumped in with rape. E.g. Making a pass at someone now gets you on the sex offender list. (She provides real example.) Was what happened to him really a proportionate response? Unwanted advances happen all the time. W-M, M-W, M-M, W-W. Are we really entering a world in which we are going to criminalize all inappropriate behavior? Women should just be clear that these advances are not welcome. But apparently we are all victims now.
- Complicity – Women can be complicit. Should we be blaming the victim? That means that the “victim” can taking no responsibility for what they do, it infantilizes women. Treats them like they’re so incapable they can’t see what’s coming and avoid it. (Tells story of presidents club) (Harvey Weinstein – Women made a decision to go along with it to advance their career) Were these women intimidated? Do these women really feel like they were at a point where they thought “I have no other option but to have sex with this man”? Complain, tell your friends, go to authorities? Also, why do we assume that women are always telling the truth? Put a #metoo sticker on it, and everyone takes it as truth. People say that rape convictions in this country are too low. TOO LOW?? By what standard? Only by the standard of someone who assumes that anyone who is accused of rape is actually guilty!
- Hypocrisy –
That’s all for now because I am tired. Maybe will pick it up later.
Featured Image : Pixabay