Like most decent people, I took part in the #MeToo-campaign that reigned over social media in the fall of 2017. It was an uproar that shook the very grounds of our normative society. It was the roar of thousands of outraged women. They weren’t – aren’t – outraged for any other reason than that they’ve had enough of oppression, of systematic shame and of blame.
The storm was long overdue. It was a refreshing wind and a long overdue bill served to many men around the world, and it served a purpose. It kick-started a process of revelation. Many TV-shows and movies have picked up on the need for diversity and equality. It made people think more about their actions and behavior, and it gave victims the space to speak openly, and a form of credibility that hadn’t existed before.
And still, it’s not enough.
I’m not a fanatic feminist. I am one, though. Of course I am. I believe in the unequivocal equality between humans. I also believe in basic education for everyone in this universe.
But how to make these an actual reality is more than I know. Equality is a tricky topic, because the uncomfortable truth is that everyone isn’t equal; and to write laws without rough outlines and some sort of stereotyping is not only very difficult bordering on impossible.
During those weeks when the stories of suppression and violation rained down on social media, I must have read thousand of stories. There were so many documentations and witnesses of violence, shame, blame and guilt it overwhelmed me. I had to go on hiatus for a while.
The realization that there’s so much pain out there wasn’t comforting, as I thought it would have been. It was exhausting. Most of the stories followed the same patterns, and the results were always the same. I am still appalled at the lack of basic human decency.
In these months of partial calm after the storm, I’ve discussed the campaign with several different parties. There are still some attempts at victim-blaming going on, I’m afraid. A vast majority of women share my reactions: we see sisterhood where it hasn’t been before, we share the shame, we understand.
And most of all, we all have a similar story to tell. Each and every women I – and you – meet has a story of some sort of sexual harassment. And every one also knows someone who’s the victim of violent sexual abuse.
Every woman. I promise you. Every woman knows.
But when talking with men of every creed and age, most are fairly certain that their family member, coworkers and friends never would use force or power over women and girls.
I understand and applaud the will to want to think the best of your peers. But this juvenile blue-eyedness must stop. Your friends and family are being abused by your friends and family. There isn’t a group of general bad men dividing their crimes over a neat schedule. There isn’t just one face of a rapist and abuser. They are everywhere.
I don’t want to automatically assign blame to every man I meet. Of course there are men who’s never abused women, there are men who did so without realizing the lines they’ve crossed. There are, without doubt, women who abuse men (and women, and boys, and girls), and people that find blame to point when there is none. There are false accusations. There are those people who don’t want to give the world or a gender a second chance or even forgiveness.
Everyone is capable of terrible actions. It’s one of the many downfalls of the human nature. But that’s not an excuse, no, far from it. It should act as a mirror in which we could see our worst, and do our very best to make sure that image does not become reality.
We must get over ourselves. We must break stereotypes and norms. We must understand that good people do bad things too. It happens all the time. We must crush the image we have of the abuser and the victim. We must widen our understanding and perception of what abuse and harassment looks like. Most of all, we must understand that every action against abuse counts.
You don’t have to be a marvelous social influencer or politician. You don’t have to strike down every abuser, you don’t have to rid the world of every evil. All you have to do is do what is right when that action is needed.
Don’t hope someone else might do something. Be that person that does. Society’s wellbeing is in the hands of its population. We don’t need superheroes, only people with the heart in the right place.
You don’t have to be brave, only human. Over and over again.
It’s exhausting and never-ending, I’m afraid. But there are good people out there, and there is good in this world, but it’s burning down and taking everything with it.
Let’s not burn people in those fires. Let’s work on ways to put out those fires instead.