#MeToo: Writing As Power

house fire

Many folks witnessed a powerful speech from Oprah at the Golden Globes and a powerful collective resistance from all of the women in attendance.

The #MeToo (and now #TIMESUP) movement is remarkable in that it began as a trending tweet but has been incredibly resilient, igniting a white-hot fire in the chests of women and girls. #MeToo has inspired conversation, shame, rebuke, and an I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore attitude that, mark my words, is the nascent seed of revolution that previous generations of feminists were unable to locate.

Oprah Winfrey

The secret is ALWAYS Oprah. Every. Single. Time.

The secret seems to be Oprah. Or any of the other phenomenal brown-skinned women at the awards ceremony who looked simultaneously astonished and empowered by Oprah’s words. The typical white feminist-led movement is doomed to impotence, but cultural/political revolution led and well attended by brown-skinned women is a movement that may have some traction and longevity.

The fact that Oprah named the nameless by expanding #MeToo beyond gilded celebrities to include farmers and restaurant workers, engineers and women in tech, does what previous feminist movements have struggled to do: Be a movement of inclusivity. Oprah included everyone at all income and education levels and all ethnicities and races and said, “We see you.” The historic invisibility of these disparate groups was lit up like a bonfire the moment Oprah identified them by name. We see you.

Before the Golden Globes and Oprah’s apparent presidential bid, however, a sea change had already begun for me. For more than two years, I’ve been silent. I stopped writing, put my blog on hiatus, and dove inward and inward and inward until I almost snuffed myself out.

This silencing coincided with my divorce. The end of a nearly two decades-long relationship that had become increasingly abusive gave me plenty to write about. But I was paralyzed. I was afraid of what friends and family would say. I was afraid of how my words might one day affect my son. I was afraid of what his father would do.

Then #MeToo trended. I #MeToo’d without noting specific incidents, but it sparked an internal conversation with myself. I catalogued the major #MeToo moments in my life and thought about how each one had impacted my life, and now I feel that I’m taking the power back by refusing to keep secrets:

  • Molested at 4 years old
  • Virginity taken at 14 after I quietly, repeatedly said, “Please stop”
  • Innumerable catcalls while waiting for the bus before I was old enough to drive
  • Too many gropings at concerts to remember
  • Groped by my boss until I quit
  • Sexually assaulted by a bar owner when I asked where the restroom was and was too drunk to consent
  • Verbally degraded, derided, and denigrated by my spouse, especially regarding my body and sexuality

My #MeToos go on and on, and my experiences are not unique. Really, it’s the ordinariness of it that makes it so sad.

The astounding part of the movement, though, is that it didn’t just dry up and get replaced by another trending hashtag a week later. It stuck in my brain. I chewed on it for weeks. I watched it evolve into a larger, more inclusive movement and read so many accounts of how women’s careers and lives have been turned upside down, but they kept going because they had to in order to survive.

I thought about my relationship with my son’s father, its devolution over the years as my ex’s binge drinking gave way to alcoholism and as his sober behavior changed from shame, repentance, and a honeymoon period to anger, derision, and dominance.

I, too, changed. I started off spunky and full of hell fire and became worn down and afraid. I learned to stay under the radar. I taught my son to do the same by hushing him in the mornings to keep him from waking his father as he slept off his hangovers.

One evening, he yelled at me and scared me with his usual thunderous theatrics, and he made our son cry, and I thought, What kind of lesson am I teaching my son? I filed for divorce, and my ex made my life even more hellish than it had been before. I was stunned when he was awarded equal custody. My baby, whom I raised–waking through the night, rocking him to sleep, feeding him, changing him, bathing him, playing with him, teaching him–was now only with me 50% of the time.

I was too frayed to continue fighting, and I had no money for legal fees. I grew silent. I rallied my happiest feelings for my son when he was with me. I had no power over his days and nights with his father; I could only control his environment when he was with me. I gave him a safe place filled with pillow forts and play-do, bubble wands and bedtime songs.

On the nights my son was away, I was bereft. I cried myself to sleep and considered ending my life. But I didn’t really want to abdicate my 50%, so I resolved to garden and breathe deeply and endure.

I didn’t expect to fall in love again. It was an imperfect time to begin a new relationship when I was still closing the book on my old life. Somehow we overcame seemingly insurmountable hurdles and came out okay on the other side. And now we have a beautiful baby together.

But still, I couldn’t write. I had plenty to say, but it felt like a hand was closing around my throat. Fast forward to #MeToo.

#MeToo has become more than listing the ways in which women have been wronged–it has become a reckoning.

It isn’t the embracing of a victim mentality; it’s the refusal to be a victim ever again. It’s the rejection of the old patriarchal rules–a firm Never Fucking Again.

It’s time to write again.

My silence was the burned out shell of my abusive relationship, and putting pen to paper is akin to a strong wind scattering the charred remains into nothingness.

house fire

Burn patriarchy to the ground!

If Oprah was right when she said that “Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have”–and when is she ever not right?–then it is time for me to speak. By speaking out, and believing those who speak out, we not only release the skeletons from our closets, we burn that mutha down.

Silence is a weapon, too–silencing women has been used to dominate women since time immemorial.¬†I will never allow myself to be rendered powerless again. #MeTooButNeverFuckingAgain


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Member of The Internet Defense League

%d bloggers like this: