I kept trying to write #MeToo, but everything that I wrote didn’t seem like it was enough. #Metoo is not enough because it only unearths the symptoms of social disease. There has to be something more.
Stopping sexual violence and harassment can’t be a gendered, sexed campaign. The heart and guts of this violence is not men versus women, it is culture versus the individual. Our culture casts both love and sex as commodities that can be bought and taken through virtue or power. Sexual violence is about power, and we live in a society that idolizes and fetishizes power in all forms.
We tell everyone that boldness and persistence are a virtue. We tell Men that they are entitled to leverage any form of strength they can accumulate to fulfill their desires. That is toxic. Then we tell Women to be like Men if they want to be equal. But, boldness and persistence are not virtues when it comes to other peoples’ bodies. A “by any means necessary” approach is horrifying when it comes to other peoples’ bodies.
We have been lied to that physical intimacy is a goal that can replace emotional intimacy, and that we are entitled to what we can get away with. We seek solace for our loneliness in exertion of power to achieve sexualized contact. We take advantage of our axes of power to wring out a feeling of value that can’t be found in sex.
My #MeToo moments that shake me are not the most flagrant moments. They are the ones where I was boxed in, where accepting the transgression was the lesser of bad outcomes. The people that boxed me in did it because it increased their power to hurt me for saying no, for taking away their expected return and defacing their pride.
I think the first step in stemming the #MeToo moments is to acknowledge sex is not a thing you can win. Sex is not a prize. There is no aspect, quantity, or quality of sex that can change your value as person. Sex is just one vehicle to a specific kind of intimacy that cannot make you more or less anything.
If our culture stops treating sex as something that can be won it will lose its ability to be an object of competition. If sex is not a trophy participants can stop treating each other as combatants that must be dominated and controlled.