Currently, I'm taking a month away from Social Media. If you found this story because of a tweet or a Facebook post, it's through the magic of WordPress's "Publicize" feature. I had been contemplating taking a break for a few reasons but the one that pushed it over for me was the "Me Too" campaign. I grow weary of internet campaigns. I know that a lot of folks needed to say "me too" because they needed to feel heard. I respect that.... I do... and I hear you. What I also heard was a lot of man-bashing... and I understand that for some people, this is where they are in their place of healing. But I don't like it. In my mind, people are individuals and to blame someone for being part of a demographic, goes against everything I feel is right and true. Men have their own social conditioning to deal with as well. It doesn't change anything to lash out at anyone I am not going to add my voice to the campaign, and before you start thinking its because I don't know what sexual assault is, I'm going to correct you on that point right now. I have a deep and personal experience with sexual assault and those are all the details you get because my personal experience and growth does not need to be on display. Voicing my experience to the world does not change anything for me. It only labels me a victim... which I am not. People hurt people all the damn time. I'm not sure that a hashtag campaign does much of anything except be an online circle jerk so we can all feel either good about ourselves for "taking a stand" or feel miserable together and wallow in how unfair life is. I do recognize that for a lot of people, it helped them to feel that they are not alone. And for that I'm glad. .. and maybe it started some conversations... but what it did for me was to bring fear back into the forefront of my mind. I spend a lot of time working hard to look at people as individuals. Being bombarding by the Me Too's brought my mind to a place of "us vs them". Gosh, this post feels all hurty and angry and choppy but I'm not really sure how else to get my point across. I don't think I'm doing a very good job. Let's try this. LB and I just spent a weekend in NYC, where we had some great food, saw a few wonderful exhibits and stayed in one of our favorite hotels. The ice machine, however is in the basement, as is the fitness room (not that I was working out hahaha .. nope. But I need to share that info to make a point in a moment). You can get to the lobby and the basement without a room key. Anything over the 2nd floor requires a room key in the elevator. After a 3 hour train ride, I was ready for some ice water, so I hopped in the elevator on the 19th floor and rode it all the way down to basement. I filled my bag full of ice and turned around and got back on the elevator. I see two guys headed my way. One was slim and tall and in his 20's and was wearing a long camouflage jacket and the other was probably 50- ish, broad shouldered in T-shirt and jeans and both of them were a little unsteady on their feet. My first thought was "they did not come from the fitness center" followed by "oh crap they are going to get on this elevator" and I was immediately afraid and frozen. Maybe the door will close before they get here... oh shit, he put his arm out and stopped the door from closing... UGH.. I should have held it for them, that was so rude.. but I really don't want them on there... Should I get off? No, that would be rude... should I be rude? It's probably better to be rude than be unsafe.. UGH why was I feeling like this? I haven't been this afraid in years! I did the best I could manage and I put on my "New York Attitude" on my face, put my back into the corner so neither of them could get behind me and tensed up, ready for whatever crap they might try. Fifty, whispering to Twenty says "Hit the button!" Twenty reaches out with one long, unsteady finger and struggles to hit the button for the 26th floor. Honest to Pete, my first thought was "where is his room key!? does he have a room key? is he just riding elevators until he can grab someone?! " Fifty, a little louder now "Put the key! Come on, man" Twenty starts reaching through his pockets trying to find the key. At this point, my fear is subsiding a bit and I say, in my toughest, deepest, most serious voice. "it will probably work because I just had my key in there" Fifty looks at me and says "Thank you. We .... we had a few beers" and I replied with "I see that" Fifty looks at me again lifts his hands up, palms to me, fingers spread and says "We don't want any trouble we are just trying to have a good time. Okay?" And then I really looked at these guys. I really took a good look at two, slightly buzzed, open faced, guys who had nothing scary or alarming about them other than they were tourists, lost in their own hotel, because they got a little buzz on. I scared them. They thought I was going to lose my shit and freak out. And that's when I got an idea of what it must be like to be two Latinos in a big city, in a small elevator with an obviously terrified white lady. I relaxed. I took a look at Twenty, with his sweet, silly face. He say's "We're from California" and I said "Really, where abouts?" And we spent the next 10 floors talking about San Francisco. My point, gentle readers, is that we all have things to fear. That elevator ride reminded me to see people as individuals. I am convinced that before reading "me too, me too, me too" over and over, I would have seen these two guys for who they were.
Sure, suffering can divide us into the perpetrator and the victim, the powerful and the powerless, but it can awaken and unite us, too. In fact, it must. ~ Karen Maezen Miller from "You Too"Does that mean we shouldn't be aware, be vigilant and be smart? Of course it doesn't. But we don't need feel like we are victims. We don't need to wallow in the "unfairness" of it. We should be concerned that rape culture exists. That women are treated like less than. That people of color are still not seen as equals. We need to find ways to change it. I'm not convinced that a hashtag will do that.