If you were watching #MeToo and wondering what would happen if you weighed in — specifically, if your abusers* were watching you on social media to see what you would say — I see you. (*Let’s default to plural, as the topic is sexual abuse of women in real life.)
You are not less courageous or brave about sexual violence you have experienced if you do not share your story out loud.
You do not have to speak up every time you have experience with something that hurts you, just because it has become the topic of the day.
Your pain does not exist for the consumption of others or to prove a point.
Social media sharing can be epically powerful. It can fundamentally change you and how you see the world, the things that have hurt you, and yourself. It can be a powerful tool for transformation — personally and socially.
I believe in storytelling and sit with tears for the people who are bravely speaking their truths. I have done it many times and I am not sad, nor am I ashamed. I have experienced firsthand the radical storytelling online that is a modern-day form of consciousness-raising for women, and especially how it has changed me (for more on this topic, see my chapter titled “Feminist Over-Sharing in the Wake of the Ray Rice Scandal” in Scandal in a Digital Age).
For all the benefits of storytelling, they are not accessible to every person at every moment of her life.
On social media, many people are directly connected or otherwise accessible to an awful lot of people — some of whom have treated them awfully.
Did you see #MeToo and wonder if someone who had raped, sexually harassed, assaulted, abused or otherwise mistreated you was watching your pages and lying in wait, waiting to see if #YouToo would speak up? Did you wonder if they would reach out to you to dispute what you had to say; or if they would see themselves in your carefully non-detailed storytelling; or if they were interacting with the posts of women they hadn’t abused, maybe with likes and supportive comments and the shit that sticks in the cracks of broken mirrors?
I see you. I hold you. Sometimes our rapists and harassers are our friends online. Sometimes they may have no idea what the fuck they did and how much it destroyed us or devalued us. Other times they know what they did or at least that we freaked out, but you know, power dynamics. Sometimes they contact us.
The horror is real.
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you’re so vain
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
– Carly Simon