#MeToo

My father used to love telling a story about the high point of his career as a thespian in school plays, when he played a character whose only line was “Me too.”  Although he did not consider himself a great actor, nor was his taste in movies particularly highbrow [1], he was a far better actor than he gave himself credit for.  His acting was of a kind that is far more common than is recognized.  He appeared to the general public as a genial, expansive, and sociable person when he was deeply private, especially about his emotional life, and never let anyone get particularly close to him.  There is an especially common sort of acting by which we show the best sides of ourselves to strangers and leave the less than pleasant aspects of our nature to those who take the time to get to know us.  There are a great many reasons why this is the case, although it is an aspect of my own life that has often bothered me.

Last night I was looking for NFL Scorigami updates (one game, a 52-38 score, ended up being a new final score in NFL history) and I happened to see that the twitter hashtag #MeToo was spreading.  Looking at what it meant, I sadly had to add my own tag along with a short comment that expressed my dissatisfaction with how so many people had used the tag as a way to bash men or to assume that only women suffered from sexual abuse and harassment.  To be sure, such things are distressingly common for women, but they are not something that only women have to deal with.  By the time I was a year old I was already a survivor of sexual abuse, and with that early start in trauma the results have been both fairly lamentable and fairly inevitable in my own life, as I have commented on from time to time [2].

The context of the #MeToo campaign is itself a fascinating one.  Much of it has to do with the sudden fall from grace of filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, previously known in this blog for botching the release of movies like “The Founder.”  For decades this man seems to have gotten a great deal of enjoyment in trying to take advantage of his power in Hollywood to gratify his own lusts.  Some people use their power to try to get sex.  Some people use their sexuality in order to get power.  It is not uncommon to use what we have to get what we want.  There comes a time, sometimes, though, when one can no longer do it.  Such was the case for Weinstein, who went from being a power broker in Hollywood to being a pariah after the floodgates opened and person after person accused him of indefensible behavior.  This is not the first situation where this has happened, and it certainly will not be the last unfortunately.  We live in a world where the gratification of lusts is a major aspect of life, and it is all too easy to gratify those lusts with those who are less powerful in a situation than we are, creating an atmosphere that encourages survivors to pile on when someone who was once an exploiter and abuser appears vulnerable as a result of their cover of respectability being blown.

Sometimes the matter is not so cut and dry.  To the extent that we focus on our victimhood, we feel a sense of malicious enjoyment at seeing the suffering of those we see as abusers.  Yet it is hard for anyone not to abuse power in some fashion if they focus on the wrongs that they have suffered without realizing that they too are capable of doing wrong themselves.  A great many of the comments I have seen with #MeToo have used this hashtag as a way to attack men in general, not only men who happen to be abusive, and even more have forgotten that men too have suffered sexual abuse, and are often caught in a double bind as a result of the abuse as well as the way that others respond to it.  Others are caught in other binds with both fear and longing for intimacy and affection, and so it goes.  How often does the pain that we suffer end up being inflicted upon other people, some of whom are quite unworthy to receive the full brunt of our scorn and abuse?  All too often we are not only sinned against, but sinner as well in need of mercy rather than judgment, something that is easy for us to forget sometimes.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/06/06/tears-of-the-sun/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/04/17/we-all-die-trying-to-get-it-right/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/05/13/book-review-when-a-man-you-love-was-abused/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/book-review-not-quite-healed/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/23/book-review-naming-our-abuse/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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