While the rumble of Me Too continues, and one by one, more prominent cases of powerful men abusing their power come to light, it’s important to note the use of language in this narrative. We cannot allow word choice to take the energy and impetus from a powerful and vitally important conversation away.
Boys will be boys. Locker room talk. Inappropriate behavior. Harmless flirtation.
NO. It is beyond abhorrent that any person with a history of sexual assault is essentially rewarded by their punishment being 2 weeks of therapy, or treatment and a “heartfelt apology.” I’ve had a cold last longer.
Jackson Katz has shared a now viral post illustrating how passive voice takes men entirely out of the narrative when talking about violence agains women.
“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenage girls in the state of Vermont got pregnant last year, rather than how many boys and men impregnated teenage girls.”
The power of language has the potential to alter the way people think about sexual violence and create the “bystander” approach, removing impulse to intervene. Every person who knows of a perpetrator’s actions, as well as every person who knows the victim, has a responsibility to speak up.
Silence is a form of consent and complicity.
That’s all ages, all incomes, no exceptions. This isn’t a powerful people thing. It’s high school. It’s college. It’s working at Starbucks or walking down the street.
Women have been let down by the criminal justice system for so long, we’re expected to accept an apology over a conviction. If a man punched another man, it’s criminal assault; but he grabs me, it’s inappropriate behavior. Oh hell no.
Glennon Doyle, my personal SuperSheRo, declared a Family Meeting on Facebook today.
I see you. I hear you. Me Too. If this is your journey as well, but you are uncomfortable or feel unsafe sharing, I hold space for you. Check the language others are using, note your own, and call it out. This isn’t over. As my girl Glennon says, “First the pain, then the stillness, then the Rising.”1