The #MeToo campaign has been eye opening for me. I thought myself well aware of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault against women (and men). I was wrong.
As my social media feed continued to be filled with heartbreaking post after post (some with sickening stories, others with no details at all), the weight of it brought me to tears. So many people that I knew (many very well) had been victimized. I felt angry, horrified, disgusted, ashamed. Trying to figure out what to do or say was overwhelming. Any words felt forced, and writing them seemed more like “well at least I’m not THAT guy” than an honest acknowledgment. Even liking the posts seemed an empty gesture, though I did continue doing that throughout the day because it felt necessary.
I promised myself again and again that I would continue to speak out, call attention to actions, teach my children better, be the sort of human being who joined others in fighting to end abuse.
I still wanted to do more.
Towards the end of the day a good friend of mine made a simple, perfect, and poignant Facebook post. He wrote: I believe you.
Those three words summed up everything I’d been trying to expound on all day (and perhaps most of my adult life). It should be obvious, but somehow it isn’t- Believing victims of sexual assault is critical.
I wanted to go outside and shout that sentence over and over. I believe you.
I settled for copying my friend and posting those words on Twitter.
And because they are important, I wanted to share them with you all as well.
I attended high school at the end of the 1980’s and my school wasn’t the most racially diverse. Most of the students were suburban white kids, pretty sheltered. Still, I don’t remember race being an issue (though it is very possible I just didn’t see it). I naively believed that the racism which plagued America for hundreds of years had (for the most part) been overcome, and that my generation had grown beyond that sort of idiocy.
By the time I was in college, I was not quite so unobservant. But even then, it was clear to the majority of us that anyone acting overtly racist was an asshole. We dismissed their behavior, their rhetoric for what it was- Unintelligent garbage. Absolute crap.
I really believed America was growing up, putting aside old prejudices, becoming a more welcoming, open minded place.
I continued to believe it, even after the abhorrent behavior I witnessed from those who did not like having a black president. It was easy to do. Things seemed better. Social progress seemed to be unstoppable.
Maybe it moved too fast. Small minds weren’t ready.
And I had misjudged the pulse of the country completely.
In the last year to year and half, the voice I’d thought reduced to a dying whisper has become a very loud shout. Scared white people are running about screaming the sky is falling, their culture (whatever that means) is under assault, and they have to stand up, reclaim their country from everyone who suddenly won’t stay in their *proper* places.
The violence this past weekend is likely only the beginning of a nasty string of events.
Emotions are running dangerously high.
This isn’t just a conflict of ideas (one does not attend a debate armed, in full riot gear, ready to club the opposition), but a war against an ideology of oppression and hate. One that has already shown us what atrocities it is capable of committing, and one that cannot be given another chance.
My friend Holli was sexually assaulted at a spa while on vacation in Italy. Those responsible refuse to take action and of course, are blaming Holli, insinuating she misunderstood what happened or was confused about events. I am disgusted, angry, saddened by what has happened to my friend. Read her story HERE.
Blaming the victim is a vile and cowardly practice. I will do whatever I can to make sure something is done. Holli has crated a petition which you can sign HERE.
Do the right thing. Stand up. Do not sit silent.