I’ve already written a bit about what feminism means to me and the #MeToo-movement, but since we’re coming up on the one year mark of the beginning of the campaign (and a year is nothing measured on a scale of societal change), and I feel like I’ve gained some perspective thanks to media studies.
Politics, psychology, marketing, sociology and philosophy all merge and blur together on the wide spectrum of media. It feels like a superpower, but really it’s only context.
Feminism is no exception.
Boys will be boys and big girls don’t cry
The problematical reality was demonstrated exemplary well with the recent case of Kavanaugh vs Ford. While she delivered a heart-felt testimony and the women in the courtroom remained poised and well-mannered despite the nature of the situation and trial, the men with Kavanaugh himself in the lead demonstrated immaturity and outrage.
At the core of the issue is not necessarily patriarchy, misogyny or even sociopathic behavior. It’s that these men cannot fathom what the problem is. They don’t comprehend the reality of living as a woman, to live without the privilege of not having your every action and choice scrutinized, judged and shamed.
(Of course men are judged too. We need feminism to relieve the pressure of judgement and to leave room to exist freely on the human spectrum. I’m focusing on the problematic view on women to make a point and because it needs to be said again.)
Kavanaugh didn’t remember attacking Ford. He’d been drinking excessively, but this does in no way excuse his behavior. Any sort of violation against another human being is despicable. While he can live his life unhinged, she remembers every day.
That’s the problem. The perpetrators don’t necessarily even remember what they’ve done, because to them, it’s not an issue. They don’t need to remember. They don’t need to consider the consequences to their actions, since their surroundings protect and support these actions. If a woman is offended, hurt or attacked, the blame is hers always. Her pain is silenced and quickly replaced with a collectively applied shame.
No one wants to intentionally ruin lives. Especially the lives of nice, young boys with their whole lives ahead of them.
Toward the flipside
The case of Kavanaugh is crucial to the #MeToo-movement, because it shines a blinding light on cis-male fear for the first time. We see the aggressive defensiveness in an attempt to justify a reality and moral that is believed to be acceptable. Kavanaugh is the caveman led out of Plato’s cave, only to run right back inside as soon as he caught a glimpse of daylight.
Until now, the boys-will-be-boys-mold has worked as a way to smooth over the misogynistic behavior seen in many places. What #MeToo did so well was to open the floor for the other side to the behavior, namely the victims, who were given a voice. Many men have become defensive in the wake of the campaign, since they are forced to evaluate not only their morals, but also their actions.
Men are afraid, because the behavior they had been taught was not only admirable and accepted but also expected is nothing but. An uneasy thought is simmering in the brain of every man that yet has considered the topic of feminism from a rational point of view;
‘that could have been me.’
Ding, ding, ding.
Victim and perpetrator alike can now think this. It’s definitely not the equality we had in mind, but perhaps it’s the one we deserve.
Some have been leaning towards calling 2018 ‘the year of the woman’. Although we’ve heard a variety of female voices during the past ten months, it seems contradictory to assign a gender to this anger, hurt and resolution that is still resounding all over media and seeping into homes and workplaces.
The hurt and inequality we’re still dealing with is not the end game, it’s not even in the second act. Right now we’re stuck in a bit of he-said-she-said, and blame is still being assigned. Blame is still being avoided. The real scandalous tragedy is not the amount of perpetrators still walking scot-free while their victims relive their trauma on a daily basis.
What actually should be the wake up call is the fact that we have a system that allows abuse and violence, because it’s nicer to think ‘boys will be boys’. It’s nicer to think of unruly small boys than of men who rape. But this isn’t a easy or nice discussion, and it isn’t an easy or nice society. It’s a faulty societal system that we need to restore from the ground up.
The men who abuse are adults who should remain responsible for their actions. But more urgently do we need a society that does not allow said actions to appear, at all, period.
This year is not the woman’s. It’s the year we’ve gained a bit of momentum. This momentum needs to be used to wreck outdated standards and build better ones, for the sake of a kinder and fairer society.
I will continue to roar the importance of feminism until my voice is hoarse and I’ve drowned out all the small-minded puppets that still cast a shadow on a more accepting and loving tomorrow.
#MeToo was great. It put our hurt out in the open – it’s there, it’s happened, and it’s enough. We’ve had enough. On many planes of communication and social interaction, we’ve opened a discussion that welcomes challenging views on our reality and society. While this discussion might happen at the cost of a few men’s ego, reputation and wealth, there is a lot more at stake.
Like a world that doesn’t see as much prejudice based on sexes, but rather judges our characters after our actions.
Feminism has, in the end, not much to do with gender. It’s about humanity, plain and simple. We’re human, all of us. That’s the only requirement you need to fill to be treated well, and to treat others accordingly. Equality shouldn’t have to get more difficult than that.
And while the legal and social systems still fail to acknowledge the victim, we must remember that changes rarely come quickly, and that they are never easy. What we’ve gained in 2018, the year of social momentum, is that women know they aren’t alone, and that makes them fear less. It might even make some fearless.
This is just a beginning. We must keep pushing, fear or no fear. It’s brave and vital all the same.
I have learned over the year’s that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
– Rosa Parks