An uninvited hand that intrudes and shatters homeostasis. A forced entry that forever changes normal and induces unending traumas. A touch that violates unexpectedly and robs children of their innocence. These are the moments that alter lives and create deep psychological wounds that can eventually be lessened but can never be erased from the minds of survivors.
Far too often, women are the ones who bear these heartrending crucibles; the cries of victims only heard by a select few of their loved ones as society moves on without noticing and with callous indifference. This is why the #MeToo movement was a watershed moment; instead of being silenced, women across America and throughout the world finally found a way to express their pent-up wounds and share their stories in ways that allowed them to feel a sense of agency.
However, as #MeToo enters its second year, it is worth revisiting the movement to assess its impacts and evaluate its effectiveness. I hope people don’t read this article as a form of “mansplaining” or think that I’m trying to speak on behalf of women. I write this article as a person who appreciates the trials that women endure and present this analysis as someone who cares deeply about the issues that impact our better halves. After all, life would not be possible if not for the labor women sustain as they push humanity forward. In this way, the adversities women face are not just their issues; the difficulties more than 50% of this world’s populations go through are at the core of human rights and the very essence of justice.
On this front, the #MeToo movement has failed to live up to its potential. What started off as an effort to shed light to the plight of rape victims and give voice to women who were assaulted by harassment has sunk into the abyss of identity and ideology driven politics. It is truly disheartening to see a cause founded and championed by survivors stray from its original mission to the point of becoming a part and parcel of the very sectarianism that has turned social justice into lucrative profession and leverages injustice as public relations coups.
This is a tragic turn of events; issues concerning human anguish should be above politics—justice should not be turned into a partisan cudgel.
I write this in light of what is taking place with Joe Biden and the way the public faces of #MeToo are reacting to the allegations of unwanted advances and unseemly violations that have been made against him. Yesterday morning, I read a tweet by Alyssa Milano defending Biden and asking people to give Joe the benefit of the doubt. A few minutes later, while I was cooking breakfast, I watched in bemusement as Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough lectured their audience about the need for due process while questioning the motives of people who dare to bring up Biden’s behaviors.
I am proud to call Joe Biden a friend. He has been a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women for many years, and I have been fortunate to accompany him to events with survivors where he has listened to their stories, empathized with them, and comforted them. pic.twitter.com/cI0jsKlu3P
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 2, 2019
It’s as if Morning Joe has become the marketing arm of Biden 2020, as I am editing this article this morning, Mika yet again took a swipe at Biden’s accuser in an effort to stand by her man Joe. This is the same woman who insinuated that Roy Moore would lurk the halls of Congress assaulting interns is all the sudden preaching the virtues of nuance. Politics turns humans into pretzels and transforms pundits into gravity defying gymnasts as the flip flop from issue to issue in ways that make John Kerry look like the Rock of Gibraltar.
Here is what I know to be true: if Joe Biden was a Republican and was facing these charges, the same people who are admonishing us to not condemn without hearing the full story would be rushing to the microphone faster than Walter Payton to cast stones and boulders at their political opponents. After all, these were the same folks who were adamant that Kavanaugh was guilty who are now insisting that we should not judge too quickly.
I don’t write this to defend Kavanaugh or to assail Biden; in all honesty, writing about this topic is very precarious for me, one that is fraught with all sorts of difficulties. On one hand, given my proximity to women who have lived through painful experiences of violations and the ensuing ordeals of trying to piece their lives back together again, my gut reaction is to always believe when women reveal and relive their most horrific memories.
Where my heart leads me to react viscerally on behalf of victims, I also pause and consider the virtues of due process for fear of joining a mob justice. This is a most bedeviling issue: how do we hear out women while ensuring the rights of the accused and not assigning guilt before all the facts are gathered and assessed? Should we try people in the court of public opinion or the court of law? Would we be morally consistent irrespective of the identity of the victim and the likeness of the accused?
It is precisely these conflicts of dueling principles, at once defending the marginalized while upholding the virtue of fairness, that was triggered yesterday morning the minute I witnessed the outright hypocrisy from some of the most public faces of the #MeToo movement. I sense I am not alone in this reaction; I’ve had women who lived through the agony of rape and once rushed to the side of Milano reach out to me to encourage me to write about this issue the minute I expressed my determination to do so. Their outreach was motivated by the same sense of exasperation I felt while observing the way #MeToo is being politicized and turned into an ideological weapon that is unleashed to bury the undesirables or excuse the insiders depending on their political/social labels even if their accusers are telling the same stories.
I just lost some respect for one of the few celebrity-activists I've had any for. Damnitt. Yes, @TeodroseFikre , by all means, write something as only YOU can? As a multi #MeToo survivor (3, 8, 15, 17 & 23) AND Rape/Incest Victim's Advocate, this makes me L I V I D ! ! ! ! 👹 https://t.co/zxNoVX62yy
— Crazy Like a Fawkes (@FawkesCrazy) April 3, 2019
We have become a society of gangs, red turf vs blue turf, where human suffering is used as hashtags and memes for the sake of advancing political agendas. Instead of addressing injustices and ameliorating the torments of victims, too many of us are being led by demagogues away from solutions and towards the minefields of hostilities. What is lost in the shuffle are the voices of the violated and the faces of the victims who are being collateralized by our tribal instincts. While Republicans and Democrats engage in the kabuki dance of politics and prosper through our disunion, the rest of society—especially the abused—are being turned into political stage props.
We cannot afford to turn injustice into weapons of partisan destruction when it comes to the ordeals faced by women specifically and the oppression borne by the humanity in general. #MeToo should not just be about the healing of rape survivors and giving a voice to those who regularly brave harassment. We have to pull back and consider the broader implications when women are treated as inanimate possessions to be conquered.
When a woman is violated and when they are objectified by society, we all suffer for it. At this precise moment, a woman is having her life shredded as an intruder forces himself on her. Somewhere in this world, a child is being introduced to adulthood before she is ready to understand its responsibilities. As you are reading this article, countless women are shedding tears as they are forced to relive long buried memories. It is not lost upon me that a man is likewise reading this missive and recalling a time he tries to hide with the mask of bravado, the same mask that could one day lead him to do to others what was done to him in the past.
Though I have by no means done a statistical analysis and this is more of a personal observation than a scientific study, I am very confident in stating that 100% of people have either been victimized by sexual predators or know someone very close to them who has felt that harrowing experience. One of the gifts of experiencing enough pains in life is ability to be super empathetic; consequently, most people I encounter easily open up to me and share some of their most painful memories.
I am sure it’s because I refuse to be imprisoned by my past and make it a point to freely share my hardships and my growing pains. I am continuously shocked at how pervasive sexual assaults—especially between the ages of seven and eleven—are in society. Child molestation is a silent epidemic that is rarely discussed even as it is the root cause of depression, anxiety and mental health issues that appear later on in life and turn otherwise productive individuals into seekers of mental health professionals and consumers of Big Pharma pills.
If there is ever an issue that calls for post-partisanship and demands that we put aside politics, the issue of rape and sexual harassment is one of them. On this front, we should all stow away dogmas and hold dear to our common humanity. When a woman says #MeToo, we too should cry out and demand justice. This demand cannot be partisan and we must not let ideologies or identities determine our reactions when it comes to human suffering. When a woman says #MeToo, let us remember that she is our mother, our sister and our daughter who is crying for help; let us stop putting politics above human suffering. #MeToo2WeToo Click To Tweet
When a woman cries, humanity weeps for her and children inherit her sadness::
Today, in lieu of contributing to the Ghion Journal, I ask you to donate to the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization founded to meet the needs of sex abuse and rape survivors. You can read more about them by clicking HERE and you can donate directly to them by clicking on their logo below. Lastly, I ask this to remind myself as much as I am asking this of the world: please stop politicizing human suffering and let us unite as a people so we can address these pressing issues that gash society.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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