As we watched our Facebook feeds fill with #MeToo from acquaintances, friends, and family members, I knew that something was changing, and you probably did too. We were raising our hands collectively. We were being seen as a group all at once. We were being heard. But what I also hoped for and believe is that we were prepping those around us for deeper and more difficult conversations about domestic violence, harassment, and sexual assault to create systemic changes.
I joined the chorus after a gut-wrenching, heavy day and said:
But you knew that already. Knowing has never been the issue.
You’ve heard mine or others’ stories already. We’ve told you loudly (like when I shared my story in my college’s newspaper) and quietly (when I told you my story in a personal conversation over dinner when you took a strong stance about the Ravens and Ray Rice or asked me why I didn’t see Casey Affleck in his Oscar winning performance in Manchester by the Sea or why I don’t dance to that R. Kelly song anymore at weddings) or you’ve already read it here on Facebook (when I posted my story to share what it was like to have a President who has sexually assaulted women, just like me).
So yes, me too.”
Truly knowing really has never been the issue. Women have always known. We know why we don’t go to parties in that person’s dorm, or meetings alone with the CFO, or why we tell friends about where we are, what his name is, and when we’ll be back when meeting someone off Tinder, or why our friend told us not to accept a job there. We have always known. And if men really had to stop and think about it and force themselves to be honest, they know too.
But they were worried about what that really meant to accept and acknowledge all the #MeToo stories.Because it’s not just 5 dudes out there raping, harassing, and abusing thousands of women.They were worried about the gray areas or what they may or may not have done or said in the past.And honestly, we were worried about those gray areas too.Worried about the things that made us imperfect victims. Worried about how these stories redefined our own stories. The things that made people question our honesty, that made people call us sluts, liars, manipulators, sociopaths (all actual things I’ve been called by dudes).
And that is why I started this website. My point was that knowing alone is not enough to create the kind of systemic change we need. Because #MeToo has got us all thinking, but we still haven’t said everything we need to say to end violence against women because, well, it’s complicated. The good news isI’ve never been afraid to speak my mind, loudly, confidently, and sometimes angrily. And I’m not afraid of the gray area, the uncomfortable, the confusing, the flexible, the space where people, including me, say “I’m not sure, but this is what I think is right”, the space where people can learn, be vulnerable, and change their minds.
I want to talk about our imperfect victim stories, why I don’t care at all about “innocent until proven guilty”, how the music you listened to growing up may have messed up your relationships, why your story isn’t a burden, and why we need your story, but you don’t owe it to anyone.
I want to discuss why verbal coercion is as unacceptable as rape, what we mean when we say this is a power issue not a political one, and how to include voices besides cis-gendered white women and why it’s critical to do so.
I want to explore how any oppression or marginalization of women helps contribute to a society that accepts violence against women in all but the most extreme cases… and sometimes even then too, what the research really says and why it matters, and small ways we can all be a part of the change.
I want to tackle some of the more difficult or divisive issues like forgiveness, atonement NDAs, statute of limitations, separating art from actions, boycotting, joining the movement, and so much more.
If you’re anything like me, you also think it’s time to share these stories and have these conversations in this way, at this time. You may not agree with what I say, but I welcome it, I want it! I want to have that conversation with you in a safe space where we know at the end we still all want the same thing: to smash the patriarchy, end all forms of violence against women, and achieve true equality. If we start the conversation from a place where we know we want the same thing, we can disagree, learn, grow, and change in a space where the uncomfortable becomes comfortable and the subtle becomes mainstream. And I am so excited for you to join me in the gray!