The original posts that I saw on Facebook around #metoo were followed by the explanation “(If every woman who has been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.)”
This was followed by the usual questions about male survivors that inspired the #mentoo.
My immediate reaction was, “What about the gender fluid folks? What about children? What about the old folk...”
Rape is not specific to any demographic. There are survivors and rapists across all the lines society uses to divide us. This is what makes it a unifier and a divider at the same time. We need to recognize that the problem is in the inequality of power. It is in the social conditioning that makes us all vulnerable in different situations.
When I say #metoo, I am speaking as a woman, about the systemic marginalisation of women. I speak to the fact that men and women experience the world in vastly different ways. A woman in a pub is more likely to have her drink spiked by a man. A woman walking down the street is more likely to be catcalled by a man. A woman is more likely to be blamed for having been raped, based on what she was wearing, how much alcohol she had to drink, where she was…
I could go on forever about the number of situations in which women are vulnerable. This is based on my experience of the world as a woman. I have shared these experiences in public talks in corporate environments such as Anglo American, high schools and university campuses. I have done radio and TV talk shows. Every single time I speak out, somebody responds with her own story. Every. Single. Time.
It would be fantastic to hear men doing the same. Instead of reacting to a women’s protest, please create your own. Stop reacting with men too or not all men and be proactive. Tell us about where you feel vulnerable. Challenge the toxic masculinity that silences you. Show us the ways in which we can help you to find your own safe spaces to talk about your abuse.
Let’s do the same for all of the demographics. Let’s open up about where we feel threatened. Let’s talk openly about all of the conditions in society that perpetuate the cycles of violence that keep us sweeping it under the carpet. Let’s bring all forms of abuse out into the open so we can create a world where all survivors are able to speak without judgement, disbelief or victim blaming reactions.
Maybe in a world where there is no shame attached to the conversation about rape and sexual abuse we can stop creating both rapists and victims. People would be able to seek help without fear. We are all part of the problem, just as we are all part of the solution. We can change the world in just one generation by changing the way we talk with and support each other.