By: Nicole Lashomb*/Editor-in-Chief—
Women attacking other women for not including men in the #MeToo movement feeds into the exact problem about why women’s issues are rarely taken seriously. Women are constantly fighting men’s battles for them and not their own. How many men do that? But, what about men too, you might ask? The world is already theirs. Their voices are the ones that are already amplified. #MeToo is not about sexual violence alone. It is about the misogyny, patriarchy and the disturbingly exorbitant numbers of women sexually assaulted because of it. Why is it that we amplify men’s voices when they are not the ones silenced. It doesn’t mean horrific things don’t happen to men and boys, it does happen to them too. However, it does mean that women are hugely disproportionately affected and need other women’s support. After reading so many women outraged that this is a movement relating to women, do you really wonder why the Equal Rights Amendment didn’t pass and why it is still extraordinarily common that women get paid less? Women, this is not about silencing boys and men or exclusion, it is about making your voice heard, your experiences count and your truth heard … for once.
So, while we are fighting against each other about including men in the #metoo movement, one woman is raped every six seconds by a man. One woman is being trafficked by a man …. one woman is being murdered by a man, one woman is being physically abused by a man, one woman … all victimized mostly by men. And, while we’re fighting about the inclusion of men, we literally are taking away the impact of the #metoo movement and its purpose.
Men should be included in the #metoo movement. They should lift up the voices of women that have fallen prey in this commonly condoned rape culture we live in. The “good ones” will do that. Many already have. They should work at being a better man, even if they already consider themselves one and they should hold each other accountable for their actions & treatment of women. When have you heard men fight against each other vigorously about including women in an issue that primarily affects them? You don’t. Women should value themselves enough to realize that it is OK to take space and to have something that relates specifically to them, something that empowers them, something that empowers us.
I started thinking about my own experiences and the impact that misogyny, patriarchy, (perpetuated by many women too) had on the time I was sexually assaulted in 6th grade by a classmate. Yes, #MeToo.
I was at a friend’s house. There were 4 of us in all … 2 girls and 2 boys. His parents were moving. I cannot remember if they were moving out or moving in to the massive house. I just remember it was filled with cardboard boxes, tape, bubble wrap, movers and his parents were home to “supervise.” While hanging out in his room at just 11 years old, I was standing face to face with my best friend at the time talking. All the sudden something caught me off guard, I turned my head and quickly, she (my best friend) shoved me in a small closet behind where I was standing and where one of the boys was already waiting for me. He forcefully pressed himself against me, groping whatever he could get his hands on as my “friends” held the door closed from the outside. Of course, I fought him but my 75 lb. frame was nothing for him, especially with his hand pressed tightly against my mouth to silence my scream. As he leaned in for more, I kneed him in the testicles as hard as I could and was able to somehow break through the door. I ran down the spiraled staircase and out the front door.
Ultimately, the boy was the perpetrator and is the one accountable for what he did to me that day. But, for years, I couldn’t shake that my best friend, another girl at that and someone I confided in and trusted, schemed with him to get some cheap thrill. I’ll never forget that instance or her laughter I heard as I desperately tried to get out of the closet that day and escape his perverse grip. She was his enabler in scheming and planning that lead to my sexual assault.
So, see, I expect more from women. I expect women to have each others back and to understand why the #metoo movement is so critical to focusing on the hugely disproportionate numbers of women and girls that are sexually assaulted or even worse.
This is the same mentality that leads to a major lack of leadership roles held by women in government, big business, and even in the non-profit world … this is why a woman is not the president. This is how we get a “pussy” grabbing, sexually assaulting, misogynistic abuser in the White House instead of an extraordinarily qualified woman. And, please check your own misogyny before going on an anti-Hillary tirade because there is no one worse than who is currently sitting in that oval office.
* Nicole Lashomb is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Rainbow Times. Nicole holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and a BM from the Crane School of Music (SUNY-Potsdam). You can reach Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.