I’m angry. Yes, I’m Included in the long list of people who’ve been touched without permission. But that’s not what makes me angry. What makes me angry is this victimization that takes hold whenever a brave soul has finally had enough and has stepped forward; someone (male or female) who isn’t afraid to be the odd person out. Instead of viewing these fed up people as defeaters of evil, we want to make them victims. I get it. It’s much easier to evoke sympathy for something that appears helpless. But to me, #MeToo is about being a vanquisher of what’s wrong in the world. You’ve seen the movies, the ones where soldiers are standing at attention in a straight line, and then all of a sudden one will step forward. We as viewers know the soldier fears the result of standing alone, but does it anyway. We don’t look at him or her as a victim, but as a hero.
#MeToo isn’t just about women “tattling” on a man (or woman, because I’ve been touched by women without permission as well) who broached a barrier, but something much bigger. This is about shaking up the entire system and about teaching women to stop being submissive. This teaching needs to start in youth. We’ve got to STOP telling women they’re the shadows of men and that they need to fear their own sexuality.
I know what it’s like to fall for the, “Do what I say, or you’ll lose your job” narrative. I even played along and became part of the perpetuation of such brash abuses of power. I began to use the very same sick tools to my advantage. I used my perpetrator and became just as much of the problem as my offender. I did this by keeping quiet. I knew deep down that his behavior was just a part of the problem. I saw how this “game” pitted women against women. We (I wasn’t the only one who agreed to this man’s rules) actually clambered over each other in some sick bid for acceptance from the very person who started the game. This is what makes me angry.
Everyday, each of us makes a decision about how to handle obstacles. In this particular case, I chose to use my position with my boss as much as he used his. I could’ve done a number of proactive things—I could’ve told my boss to f**k off, reported him, spoken up, or simply walked out the door. I don’t know, maybe we thought because he started the game, his rules applied. Besides, didn’t I, in my silence admit to playing? The more I tried to play the game, the less authentic I became. Did I ultimately end up losing that job anyway? Yes. Did I say anything. No. I left the mess for someone else to deal with. I stayed in line looking straight ahead, waiting for someone else to step forward.
Why would I ever do this? I’m a bright, successful, independent woman! I allowed myself to grovel for a position, and in doing so, altered my stance. I actually let this guy think what he was doing was okay, more than okay, that it was normal. I made it normal as well.
But it wasn’t okay, and in no way should it be considered normal, by anyone, ever.
I’ve often thought about that particular time in my life, and how I wanted so much to not be a part of the problem. It would have been so much easier to be guilt free of what had happened to me. I thought that part of my role as a woman was to be agreeable, and it really bothers me that I viewed myself this way. How could I ever feel as though I’m on a level playing field if I continued to place myself at a disadvantage simply because I’m a woman? I needed to feed my family, but it wasn’t like I was working at some high level job. I could’ve gone anywhere and made the same amount. The trade off in how I felt about myself and keeping the job in the long run wasn’t worth it. Of course at the time all I was thinking was I needed the paycheck. Turns out I needed my self respect much more.
I don’t want to be a victim. I hate the word. I hate feeling out of control, and being a victim brings this out of control feeling to the surface. Being a victim takes away my power. This isn’t about blame, but responsibility and being empowered to make a choice through accountability. We can’t change the climate of a situation until we admit the role of all players. Sure, I could’ve easily stayed wrapped up in my victimization dwelling on the series of events that happened TO me, but I was sick of feeling like I had no choice.
While it’s easy to point fingers at someone who abuses his/her power, we can’t ignore the reason the abuse perpetuates. I can’t stop wanting to be a victim and be a victim at the same time. I have to put one down in order to run with the other. I decided to take my life back. I didn’t need or want sympathy. I was tired of being made to feel that I had been helpless or that it was ALL his fault, that because I was the recipient I carried no responsibility. Sure, society wants me to be the victim… it’s much more interesting and provides a culprit on whom we can focus our hostility, but as a recipient, this role is draining. It keeps you locked in a cycle of helplessness. There can be no healing while in a victim state. As a matter of fact, we can be “victimized” all over again from those who want us to remain the victim for their own agenda.
Had I been empowered and not afraid of who I was sexually, maybe I would have had the courage to speak up. Because you see, it wouldn’t have taken courage, I would have simply been free to talk about what took place. No judgement…no shame.
While I do feel at times as though I’m in a battle, I don’t want to come at this struggle for equality (from both men and women) in an angry state. If I have a right, I have a right. Why should I be angry about something that is my right? If I have a right to feel safe in my workplace, then I HAVE to speak up anytime I don’t feel safe…EVERY TIME! No excuses! Harvey Weinstein got away with what he got away with because of percentages. Had he been rejected 100% of the time, he would not be a storyline. Holding a power position is not justification for abuse.
Society as a whole has perpetuated an oxymoron for generations. I don’t know, maybe it WILL be up to us women to shift those outdated religious and societal “laws,” and shout from the mountain that we’ll no longer take this bulls**t! We’ll no longer allow ourselves to be guilty about the beauty we possess deep within our bodies. We’ll reclaim our sex and separate our shame, and ourselves, from the submissive baloney shouted in our ears from birth.
We need a transformation that takes us from meekness to courage and self assurance. My #MeToo isn’t so much about being a victim anymore, but about finally daring to recapture me. About rewriting the rules I’ve been taught, not out of anger, but out of fearlessness. As Winston Churchill said, “History is written by the victors.” I am NOT a victim…I am the victor!
John and Jackie Melfi are married swingers and in an open relationship. They were featured in an ABC News Nightline special report “Getting ‘Naughty in N’Awlins’: Inside a New Orleans Swingers Convention” and are the force behind the industry famous colette swingers clubs in Dallas, New Orleans, Houston, and Austin and the award-winning blog Openlove101.com with over 20 years of combined experience in open relationships and coaching thousands of couples.