There are many reasons why I have been silent surrounding the metoo movement and the conversations that have been happening around the nuances of misogyny and sexual violence, but for the main part, it has just been because I’ve been tired. Tired of having to justify and explain to people I meet why these conversations are happening, tired of defending the concept of nuanced consent, tired of the victim-blaming and tired of the backlash and abuse that women have received just for standing up and pointing out the rotten apples of our community. I mean really, it’s not like the conversation has changed at all, women have always had these conversations, having each others’ backs out of necessity and sharing safety information, sharing stories and pointing out to each other the people that it is safe to trust, just now for what seems like the first time, men are privy to these details that are usually shared in secret.
A lot of men (and women) are confused because a lot of these issues and individual cases don’t appear to be linked, but they are. What started out as allegations against Harvey Weinstein and discussions around sexual abuse patterns of men in positions of power, has turned into a much bigger conversation and outright free-for-all. Within every community, women are finally confident enough to stand up and point out the creeps, the sleazebags and the outright abusers and manipulators that have been protected for years.*
However, these conversations are messy, people pick sides and tend to play down certain parts because it challenges their own belief systems, and that makes people uncomfortable. A lot of good men are now scared because they think that they might be next, that a past fling will have a problem with something they’ve said or done, or even worse, not spoken up about something that made them uncomfortable at the time. Yes, this is probably going to happen and it doesn’t seem fair, but it’s important that it does happen because it is how we as a community are going to learn what is and isn’t acceptable and how to explore consent moving forward. We are effectively children and haven’t been taught how to recognise what we need and how to communicate that effectively.
Tensions are high at the moment though, and what happens when a power imbalance is threatened is that people cling to what they know, they dig their heels in and they go down swinging. What is now happening, is that the rates of abuse among our most vulnerable are now going up. In my own community of sex-workers, the rates of reported physical and sexual assaults have more than doubled in the past couple of months. There have been at least 5 serious cases in just the past couple of weeks in one city alone. I know that I have personally received more abusive messages in the past month than in the last 5 years of working, but that’s nothing compared to what a lot of my peers have gone through.
So what I came here to say to you all, is not just to make a comment on the state of society and feminism at the moment (that is still coming, the burnout is still so real), but to say this;
Stay angry, your anger is so necessary and is what will drive this change. But please, please stay safe and watch out for each other, because we are going to fuck this up so badly and things are going to get worse before it gets better.
*yes I am aware that women can and are also abusers, however, because of the pressures on men to ‘brush it off’ or ‘be grateful for the attention’, it will be a long time before we are at the stage where men can safely step forward and not be ridiculed. Yay, patriarchy.