Me, Too

16 10 2017

Endemic refers to the constant presence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area. Hyperendemic refers to persistent, high levels of disease occurrence. Next is epidemic, which, if you google it, you’ll find that refers to an increase of a thing – disease, condition, etc. -and that it’s actually not a fixed percentage.  And a pandemic is an epidemic that has reached several countries or continents.

Semantics really.  And I guess whether you want to call sexual harassment and assault an endemic (because it’s consistently happened to a certain percentage of people) or a hyperendemic, (because the percentage of people affected is considered persistent and high level) or an epidemic (because you believe it wasn’t so prevalent 50 years ago, and we are just now hitting an all time high within our population), or a pandemic (because, hey, this shit happens to a high percentage of the population on every fucking continent), it matters not a whit to me… so long as we can agree that there’s a problem.  And after hearing several friends who have responded in total shock of seeing their feeds explode with “Me, too”, well, that just illustrates that neat little bullet point statistics don’t always do much to combat an issue.

How many of you can rattle off that 1 in every 3 or 4 women has been assaulted, or that 1 in 6 is likely to have been raped? But like every other problem in the universe, if it hasn’t happened anecdotally (that is, to ourselves or someone we know) then unfortunately human nature helps us to diminish it, or worse, to dismiss it all together.

I spent a 24 hour period attempting to track my Facebook friends (all 1260-something of them) who responded “Me, too” as a way to shine a light onto how prevalent the problem is, especially with the media showering us all with yet another powerful man being investigated for his years of assaults against women.   There were 164 of them in 24 hours.  Lemme say that again for the people in the back.  In a 24 hour period on Facebook, I watched 164 people I actually know come forward and say that they have been sexually assaulted or harassed in their lifetime. That’s 13% of my Facebook friends, and if 13% of the people I personally know doesn’t sound like enough, let me put that a different way.  The US population is 325,000,000. 13% of the US population is roughly 42 million people. Or 5.5 million more people than the entire population of Canada. In the USA alone, we have sexually assaulted the equivalent of the entire population of Canada and then some.

1262 Facebook friends.  24 hours. 164 people echoing “Me, too.” 144 women, 2 people who don’t fit into a gender binary, and 18 men.  Each and every one of them someone I have met.  Me. My mom. Her friends. My entire inner circle of female friends.  Friends with doctorate level degrees. Friends with no degree at all.  And that number does not include at least a few people who didn’t post “Me, too”, with whom I am close enough to personally to know  that they had a front row seat to this shit.  But they didn’t speak up (and it is absolutely not in their job description to do so), so I left them out of my count. However, they raise an important point: the “missing” folks show that not only is this issue still underreported as a whole, but that elements of society still view it as the victim’s job to speak out, and then, often dismisses them (or worse) when they do speak up. THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE. WE CAN’T COUNT EVERYBODY YET BECAUSE THERE IS STILL SUCH A FUCKING STIGMA OF FEAR AND SOCIETAL RETRIBUTION ABOUT IT THAT NOT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT… EVEN NOW.

So where do we go from here?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I know this much to be true:  Not everyone survives it.  And those who do walk away with dents and scratches and hurts that go deep into your brain and make you wonder about who you are, and if you “deserved” it.  Because that’s the dark side of human ego (unless you’re a sociopath) – that the shadow puppet nightmares that peek out of the shadowy corners of our brains are typically created by real monsters and assholes and traumatic experiences from things that actually go bump in the night.

I can tell you this though… there is a pattern.  Every person whose name I came across had a “tell”.  And that “tell” is that they (all 164 names) are interesting people, many of them strong, many of them unerringly magnetic to others. Why? Dunno. But my hunch is that whatever cracks that shit leaves in you acts like a beacon, because surviving it means that your flame still burns, and it draws others in like moths to a flame.  So, my dear flames, talk to the moths you gather.  Find amongst you the other “Me, too’s” in this world, by shining your light onto this issue, again, and again, and again, until everyone can crawl out from the corners and talk about it.  #TeamHuman means ALL OF US.

Secondly, a guy named Darwin had a theory about “survival of the fittest.” You (and the “you” here is directed towards monstrous people who require the axis of power tilted their way, because that’s what rape and assault are they are assertions of power…) do you want rape and assault to be the normative pandemic of our time?  Go ahead.  Keep those stats high, because what you are doing is making a fucking army of strong people who’ve survived to burn brighter than we ever did before. Survival of the fucking fittest, and we are legion.

 

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