TL;DR: Women, men, activists, allies. If in your life you’ve never felt afraid, uncomfortable, abuse, harassed. If you’ve never been raped, molested, coerced into something you didn’t want but couldn’t stop. If you’ve never identified with #MeToo or the reckoning that’s going down, know that the movement still needs and wants your voice. If you don’t want to speak up, that’s cool too. But for women everywhere, please reconsider speaking out against the movement, or to at least think about why and what you’re speaking against.
For the sake of all the women who say #MeToo and find the courage to tell their stories as uncomfortable as it is, please, do not silence them/us, or publicly dismiss a movement just because what women around the world continue to struggle with every single day has never happened to you, too.
And What If It Isn’t #YouToo?
I’d first like to acknowledge all the different types of feminists there are today. There are more sub-sections of feminism than ever before, ranging from women who just want equality and proper representation in their careers and in the government to those of us who cannot help but see inequality in almost every aspect of life. (Warning: spending too much time in the former leads straight to the latter.)
Whichever path you’re on, this week has been a busy one for outspoken women all over the world. Beyond the high-level Hollywood calling out of men with #MeToo we’re now talking about something that makes everyone a LOT more uncomfortable: the grey area of uncomfortable, avoidable, consensual sex. When you weren’t 100% in but you never said you didn’t want to, and now you feel awful but you don’t have anyone to blame because remember, you could’ve said stop, but you didn’t. You might’ve said oh…. Or you might’ve said meh. You might the next day say, I really wish that didn’t happen. But you didn’t say stop.
So now we’re at a huge crossroads in the movement, and in the world, about consent, and by the movement I mean the large, growing and scattered movement of people across the globe who say #MeToo or #TimesUp or who have said nothing at all, but appreciate that we’re finally, FINALLY, talking about this.
We’re doing it. We are finally doing what too many of us have waited so fucking long for.
What this conversation has also done is to open a billion doors for further thought, study and dismantling, brilliantly summed up by Jameela Jamil here.
But even as we as individuals, as organisers and as members of a larger cause figure out where we’re going with this, cracks are already starting to show. These cracks have always been there: women who are quick to dismiss feminism like Women Against Feminism and #whyidontneedfeminism both of which are unfortunately actual things.
And now perhaps the most important part of the conversation, the everyday things we accept as ‘normal’, is something fundamentally grey, and as a result way too easy to dismiss and speak out against. It’s disheartening, and it’s downright heartbreaking to see fellow women dismiss the assault so many others have struggled with over so long, a movement that has become so vital to so many.
There aren’t any easy answers, but here’s what I think we should do:
For women who are in this to fight, let’s continue to do all we can in our own communities to right the wrongs that have continued for so long and to change the present and the future for women. Let’s rally together and accept our differences of opinions that exist so strongly in the feminist community. Let’s support each other in the main goal of safety for women and equality for all.
For those who are not on board, let’s at least decide to not to actively dismantle the work of our sisters. To listen, instead of to correct. To try to understand instead of to judge. To make each other better, instead of arguing how we could have handled it better ourselves. Even in the wake of #MeToo it is never easy to speak out. Women have become so conditioned to be cautious about how we talk about this. The first thing a victim of abuse or harassment says, is very unlikely to be the main part of her story. If she doesn’t get to speak, maybe her story will never be told, and never be heard.
Even if we are not inclined to take to the streets and march, or to write blogs about feminism, or to identify as a feminist at all, let’s at least agree not to silence each other.
The most important thing right now is to make the world an equal, safer and more inclusive space for each other. We can make this happen. But none of us can do it on our own.
More writing on feminism:
To Be a Bit Like David Bowie
It’s been almost a week since we found out about the death of David Bowie and like many all around the world, I still can’t quite believe this. On a Sunday morning in bed with Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars making its way though my turntable at full blast, overwhelming sadness is giving way to “surely this can’t be”.
Even for celebrities far younger than David was, there’s sadness and shock, and then there’s gradual acceptance. Maybe we don’t think about it, but I guess we are aware of the mortality of those we admire, of those around us.
Like many around the world, we never really thought of David Bowie as a mere mortal; he was a star, a light, a musical mischief maker, an inventor, an entire galaxy of a brightness than few, if any, can match. We never thought about David Bowie dying because we weren’t aware that he could.
On my rock n roll-themed 21st birthday, I used blue and grey lenses to try and be a little like Bowie. On Halloween a few years later I proudly wore the signature Aladdin Sane lightning bolt on my face (beautifully drawn by mum). Years later I’d move to China to the tunes of China Girl and Changes on a playlist created for me by Noelle and Craig; Bowie was the only artist who made the list twice. Two years later All The Young Dudes would feature in the soundtrack of Martin and myself.
Everything changes, but a Bowie song to fit wherever you are in your life remains, and for me, an inner desire to be just a little bit like him has remained.
Being a bit like Bowie means a million different things in thousands of different ways. To shine brighter, to laugh harder, to think you can get away with wearing those pants and to then confidently do so, to change it up throughout the course of your life, to create, to recreate, to keep creating, to love, and to love fiercely.
To be a bit like Bowie means an irreverence for dimmed lights and staying still. To be a bit like Bowie means being unafraid to be magnificent. To be a bit like Bowie means bringing your ideas to life.
The stars do look different today as Starman returns to the stars and the world looks up and keeps our eyes to the skies; our assumptions of his immortality have at last been confirmed.
I don’t write love poems.
I’ve spent so many years reading
these poems of passion
and tales of truth.
And I’ve spent just as long
feeling like a girl
For whom this love had no time for.
So I don’t write love poems.
But I do write poems about you.
I write about falling headfirst into an abyss of adventure
And I write about my burning eyes
Fixed on the bright lights of tomorrow.
A tomorrow that is ours, but does not belong to us.
I write about the wind in my hair on the trains of Bombay
that I’ve fallen in love with
And I write about the same scenes that mean a thousand different things
Every time we race past.
I wonder if you ever see your city through my eyes
The way I sometimes see mine through yours.
I write about how you fill my mind
with a new world of wonder.
Architecture and Indian Gothic,
History and Music,
Planets and Stars
that seem to shine especially bright
When both our eyes scan the sky,
For the constellations that we know,
And those who know us.
I write about the dull ache that has started to spread,
keeping time with the impending distance.
A symphony of sadness and suspense.
Our ongoing anthem of what’s next, and where to.
This romantic tragedy I make no attempt to escape from.
Though Mars is always too far away
She burns just as bright and bold
Even when you can’t see her.
Her presence a greater pleasure
When you can.
In this chaos I find simplicity and I find peace.
In pixelated Skype calls I find closeness.
In the pictures you draw I find the stories we continue to write.
In our stories I find adventure.
And in adventure I find love.
I don’t write love poems.
But I do write poems about you.
It’s the best concept – a cafe where you can chill and have a drink, surrounded by cats. Obviously it all started in Japan, the land of crazy ideas that actually work.
$12 an hour and $5 for a subsequent half hour and you’re in Kitty Heaven. Except for a few frisky ones, the cats are largely unimpressed by us groveling humans fawning over them. This takes the concept of Spoilt Rotten Cats to a whole new level – they have people giving them head scratches, belly rubs, grooming and cuddles ALL. DAY. LONG.
These kitties don’t run to the door to greet you. They luxuriously lie there and magnanimously allow your grubby hands to worship their soft and silky selves.
What’s good is that it’s extremely therapeutic to be in the presence of that many cats. It’s also the perfect place to sit and get some work done, which I fully intend to do since the cafe is a short walk away from the office.
If you want to write a novel/poem/whatever and don’t have a cat, here’s your spot. As Barbara Holland said, “it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat”. An entire room of cats, therefore, is a writerly must.
As anyone who has/has had/has met/has encountered any cat whatsoever in the briefest of moments will know, they take their time to do as they please. Neko No Niwa is a very catly reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around you, you can’t always have it your way, and sometimes you need to just slow down and smell the kitties (they do smell really nice there).
If you play gently, you can even sort of style the cats, like hipster cat over here, also known as Little Miss Muffet. This style was inspired by Hamilton the Hipster Cat.
If you have your own cats, you might feel like you’ve been frolicking about town with a whole clowder of cats while your own beloved/s wait patiently at home. This will happen, and no one can help you there. Feel the guilt. You deserve it, as your cats will sniffingly and suspiciously tell you.