Why as a woman I feel disappointed by the #metoo movement.

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TRIGGER WARNING FOR THOSE DEALING WITH SEXUAL ABUSE:

I had been in support of the #Metoo movement from the beginning – I thought this would change everything. I had memories of bosses making moves on me and if I didn’t respond I would be ostracized the next day. I have memories of being grabbed in public places even when fully clothed. Most importantly, I was best friends with two girls who had been raped. I felt like there was an epidemic, that I was one of the lucky ones who narrowly escaped some tricky situations that could have ended in rape. I am not being overdramatic. I have had the same concerns for my daughter who is of the age I became aware of the rapes of my friends, but felt “a little safer” in the location we live in. I felt that there hadn’t been enough done for victims that I knew or enough to even protect me in previous jobs. #METOO was supposed to change that.

Then the Brett Kavanaugh hearing happened. Now, I’m not going to go into sides – but the words “EVERY WOMAN MUST BE BELIEVED” was the slogan. I suddenly became sick. Other memories of guilt came to mind.

I was at a summer camp where our dorm of 10 year old girls were split into two cabins. Kate* (*name has been changed for protection) from the other cabin told us right before sundown that she had overheard a Wendy* (*name changed for protection) scream out “Daddy no, don’t touch me” in the middle of the night. The scary part? This girl who supposedly yelled this out had her father working at the camp WITH US. I have never seen anything spread like wildfire among a young group of girls. Suddenly rumors and accusations of pedaephilia became very well known within 45 minutes of the first whisper. Girls became hysterical, crying about how scared they were. I believed it 100%, why would anyone make this up? Girls in the dorm started questioning Wendy about her relationship about her father, a memory that still makes me sick. She denied everything and stood in shock as she witnessed the girls talking about her father in this way.
Wendy could have been me, because my father, was not only working at the camp too, but he was the camp director. My father called me into his office. In the other room was Wendy’s Father. My dad had rightfully detained him (as he had to protect possible victims) while my dad privately questioned me about what I had heard. I was scared to tell my father, I had never heard of pedaephilia at the time, nor did I understand that a father could do that to their daughter. After assuring me that I could tell him anything, I explained the situation to my dad.
I was upset that this was something I personally had to deal with – all I had heard was a rumor – a disgusting one, and I was not involved with witnessing anything. As officials had to get involved and people were questioned, there was no foul play found, and even the man accused forgave the girl who made up the rumor. I did not realize all of this had gone on, until I was in a group of girls with Kate hours later and she was laughing about being questioned. Surprised I asked “Wait, that wasn’t true?” She found that question the funniest question in the world and laughed a lot while I stood watching her in shock, and finally she answered “No, of course it wasn’t.  I persisted “But, why would you make that up? I believe you!” She just shrugged her shoulders and said “I’m bored, it was fun to stir you all up”. I remember just staring at her and watching her keep talking to the other girls like nothing happened. My heart was heavy thinking “what if she had done that to me or my father?” I knew this had affected Wendy – she never spoke to us girls again or came to a summer camp. I ran into her and her father a couple of times over the years after that and even though her dad would smile and say hello and EVEN THOUGH I knew what Kate had said was false – I couldn’t look at Wendy’s father in the eye. I was scared to go near him, even knowing the truth, and I felt horrible for Wendy – as she didn’t even want to be friends with many girls after that.
A few years later, Wendy’s father died from cancer. We were 14-years-old and I remember thinking how hard it must be to lose a parent at my age. I never saw Wendy again but I knew I couldn’t ever give her condolences after what she and her father had been put through. That memory haunted me for years and as I had not seen Wendy in so long I had put that memory behind me – until the slogan “EVERY WOMAN MUST BE BELIEVED” appeared recently.

The thing is people lie. MEN AND WOMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS. ALL PEOPLE LIE. And it’s more common than you think. Look up the national registry of exonerated convictions – just for RAPE. Proved false by DNA.

The reason as a woman that I cannot stand by “EVERY WOMAN MUST BE BELIEVED” is because I have a father, a husband, a son, wonderful brothers and nephews. They deserve to be believed too if a woman ever thinks it’s okay to accuse them for any reason other than the truth.
THIS IS WHERE THE #METOO MOVEMENT HAS LOST ME. They have lost their momentum and all the progress that they were making to help REAL VICTIMS. They have done the opposite of helping female victims by using that slogan, and that hurts for all those that were hoping for some sort of change.

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“People will never forget how you made them feel…”

Maya

It’s been 4 years since the woman who spoke these words passed. It’s one of my favorite quotes especially in this age of social media. We have been trained to give our judgement and opinion more than ever. These judgements are made so quickly because we are used to scrolling through multiple news items without reading the whole story. Those news items are published to create an emotional response.
We are trained to speak without seeing the other side. Today there was another post of a woman who did something socially unacceptable. A woman shaving her legs at a hotel pool. As far as I can tell, no one confronted this person, no one alerted the staff of establishment that this act was taking place. Instead, there was a picture posted on social media while everyone from around the world could label it as disgusting. There is something this does for us. It helps us feel better about ourselves because at least we aren’t as disgusting as this woman. However no one thinks about how the children of this woman will be easily identified in their home town, no one will realize that this will cause pain for the children, and probably a lifelong experience of bullying. This is for something that the children had no control over, but that their own mother was publicly shamed on the internet.
This was not an uplifting story which made us feel good about someone doing something lovely for others. It was not anything that made us feel happier about the world we live in and the good parts of humanity.
I pointed this out on a thread and was challenged with the response “but this woman deserves it!”.
Two weeks ago I saw a woman doing socially unacceptable things in a public area. A lot of people were giving her dirty looks and I am thankful there was no one with their phones out. I was curious as to why the woman was behaving in this way and struck up a conversation with her. To my surprise, she couldn’t have been more thoughtful or polite when discussing her situation. I discovered through having an open discussion with her that she was struggling in more ways than I imagined, and appearances were definitely different from the person that I had a conversation with. I realized it was judgement that caused this woman to be isolated and lack help from the greater community. I now keep an eye out for her so I can have a chat with her again.
She completely changed my assumptions about her.
We have the right to pass judgement and share our opinions, but how amazing would it be if we lived in a world where we thought a little more about the other person. Sometimes people surprise us. Sometimes there is more we can learn from those that do things that seem so different, or socially unacceptable. When we stop focusing so much on who did right and who did wrong, and we treat people who are so different from us as equals, we become blessings in other people’s lives.  You will be someone like Maya’s quote – and people will remember how you made them feel.

For more of Maya Angelou click here.