With so much recent talk about the #MeToo movement, I wanted to address some of the discourse I saw. There was a Ted Talk called Is Modern Feminism starting to undermine itself?, where Jessica Butcher talked about how the #MeToo movement was reinforcing a narrative of disadvantages that don’t help women in the fight towards equality. She also mentioned that it was not only bringing women down, but also hurting the reputation and careers of several men with no due process. I simply do not understand why women would try to tear down such an important and needed movement.
Just last week Jessica Butcher was one of four who were appointed as an equality commissioner with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). It really concerns me that someone who doesn’t believe in a movement about empowering and supporting other women by letting them know they are not alone in their experience could hold weight in EHRC.
From an intersectional lens I believe that part of the reason why she thinks she has never been at a disadvantage for being a women given her success in becoming a tech entrepreneur, and that her success simply came from hard work and support from loved ones is because she is a white women. She is in a single-bind and is not thinking about other women who are either also disabled or are in a marginalized racial group that face even more societal challenges in the work place and real life. By discrediting the #MeToo movement and saying that is is actually creating an identity obsessed with female victimhood that damages the self-confidence of women, she is perpetuating the cycle of abuse that many women endure for speaking out about rape.
In case this topic does not seem universal, here are a few tweets from around the world to look at:
“I was 19, in the Navy. He asked if I knew how to keep secrets to myself and if he could see my barracks room. He was chief”
“I was sexually assaulted and bullied by leaders at Bell until I broke down. #MeToo”
“Staying silent about my story and struggle serves no one. I was given a voice, and I will share and speak up for women who feel voiceless #MeToo”
“To women out there who are survivors of sexual assault if you’re feeling a bit triggered know you’re not alone. My PTSD has become more prevalent. #IStandWithBrittany & I also stand with all who have been through this, as I know people stand with me too. #support#MeToo“
As someone who understands how hard it can be to speak up about a traumatic situation such as rape, we need to be uplifting the women who are brave enough to come forward. Because let’s remember how many times rape is blamed on victims of assault or harassment. For example, just a few months ago police in Pakistan blamed a woman for being gang raped in front of her children for traveling alone after her car had run out of fuel. She was stuck on the side of the road when two men broke the car windows, dragged her and her two children out and attacked and raped the mother multiple times before stealing her jewelry, cash, and bank cards. The lead investigator Umar Sheikh even said that she should have taken a safer highway and made sure she had enough fuel for the journey. This is only one of several comments used to silence survivors of rape. Common arguments for women being blamed for rape focus on what they were wearing, or for consuming alcohol, or for being flirty with someone, when men are never scrutinized for any of those things. Instead of teaching women how “not to get raped” we should be focusing on teaching men that they will be held accountable for their actions and that the narrative excuses will be put to an end #MeToo.