In the wake of #MeToo, the Darling team has spent considerable time deciding what would be the most helpful way to respond. In the end, we’ve felt that the only way to do justice to the diversity of stories, experiences and gut-instincts that pop up is to simply share two of the many. Two of our own. Two that we hope others can find comfort in, draw courage from and hear championing a hope that culture can, will, must… change.
We believe it can.
FROM ZIZA, OUR DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL CONTENT:
I had been offline all day Sunday, thinking a day’s pause from social media would do me good to soak in the long weekend I had just spent in my favorite city.
Then Monday happened. One of the first messages I opened was, “How do we want to respond to #metoo?”
I drew a blank. What had I missed in one day? I quickly Googled. Ah. Yes, this. Of course we should comment. Absolutely, let’s shine the light on the rising voices amplified in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s deserved condemnation.
As I ruminated on the most helpful ways to respond, continuing to work but also scrolling through Instagram, #metoo grew louder. Stories shared, posted, applauded. The courage of women speaking out was evident… but something else was too.
I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. A pit in my stomach, an anchoring. Slowly it solidified and weighted down my thoughts to the point where I could think of nothing else. Like a scab scraped off with one scratch, there it was: Oh. Yes, that.
I hadn’t thought about it in years. I was eight. He was not. Though the details aren’t important to share here, they are details I still remember and carry with me now. Details that, for a young girl, made me feel powerless and trapped but also a strange new thing – desired. And ashamed by that desire. Details that I know went on for weeks, maybe months, but I now can’t access in my mind. Details that should not have happened. Details I thought I had healed from.
Details that also now, in the collective of #metoo, I somehow feel aren’t “terrible” enough to draw attention to. Maybe I’m not #metoo, after all? Maybe I should just forget those details ever happened and encourage those finding freedom in sharing theirs.
Mine is not everyone’s story, but I know my story has marks I wish it didn’t. I also know there are others who have a story that they are not ready to share. A story perhaps triggered by #metoo and maybe feel now even more alone than they did before. Even more silenced. Even more ashamed by an inability to put out there publically what they’ve experienced privately.
For some, staying silent isn’t condoning. It’s prioritizing the sanctity of their own inner space.
And so. I say this to you as I say it to myself: Your details are valid. There is no monopoly on bravery, whether demonstrated by a hashtag or spoken in the silence of a processing heart. If the internet suddenly feels like an unsafe space in light of #metoo, let it. It’s OK if you can’t be there right now. You’re not weak. You’re not un-empowered. You’re practicing what makes #metoo so important, what makes its essence a rallying cry for so many.
It’s the ability to say, “This is mine. I’ll share it when I’m ready.”
FROM TERESA, OUR MANAGING EDITOR:
When my fingers hovered over the board of my computer, hesitant to add my voice to the many that were accruing interest on the internet, it wasn’t because I was concerned about the young women who would see it. It wasn’t because I was too concerned about the ones that rave against social media marketing and movements, because I think the damage is done, and we take less to the streets than to the airwaves and electrodes that drive our new digital world when we move in activism now. I didn’t mind that my most conservative friends might roll their eyes and move along. I knew that move would come from not understanding that the “me too” posted on the wall wasn’t a feisty hand in the air waving for militant feminist takeover, but more of a whisper of pain; a cautious first step forward.
It took more than I bargained in my brain to type those two words, and I’ll tell you why. It’s because I don’t have a Harvey Weinstein. I don’t have a man that everyone can turn to, and loathe, and blame and incite a riot against. I don’t have a leader that we long to see fall. I don’t have a villain that society is ready to incarcerate and place the collective angst for every mother, sister, daughter, friend, or lover who has been sexually assaulted on top of.
Don’t misunderstand what I am here saying: I believe that Mr Weinstein deserves the full extent of the law against him. It’s wild and unusual that the greatest punishment America leverages against him is to “throw him out of the Academy,” as though that will teach him. What about: actual, legal justice? What about, simply put him through a trial and make certain that it is fair and impartial? And then, naturally, he should be kept miles away from any young lady in or out of Hollywood for a good, long time.
Yet while “Hollywood’s worst kept secret” is now out for the public, the secret that seems to only just be breaking is that we all have our Harvey’s, and they aren’t long-standing, grossly wealthy industry moguls. You don’t need to have starred in an A-list picture to have survived a predator, assault, or molestation. You might be, as Emma Thompson recently put, “groped in the tube” in England, touched to the point of questioning your own sanity in a crowd, or—as my case would have it—kicking off a man who was sure that “all of the tension between us is just sexual.” Kicking him off for about 45 minutes.
“Me too” isn’t about a throng of angry woman trying to take over the world, just as—in my humble opinion—Black Lives Matter wasn’t meant as a demeaning, overthrow partisan team trying to tell the world that Jewish, Middle Eastern, European, Slavic, You Name It, lives don’t matter. These two little words are the words that I hope displace the other two. “Me too” should and can replace “Harvey Weinstein” because “Harvey” is one man, in one system, with one wife and one house, but “Me Too” is the flip side, the women in every home, in every system, with every kind of lifestyle, whispering to the unknown masses around her “please don’t hate me.”
We can choose, in the days ahead, to vilify and hate one man, or we can choose to turn towards, embrace, and care for billions of women. To do the first is simply the news of the month. To do the latter is the work of the ever-unfolding future. To hate one man, collectively, is a true but ultimately meaningless feat. To change the culture we are building on earth to love, respect and fight for women? That would be a honour I would love to share with every single one of you.
Teresa: one of the “me too.”
Feature Image via Katie Kopan