I thought when I started this blog last week that I'd probably be taking it easy with early posts. Yes, last week was about a messy relationship with a worldwide pandemic and privelege, but I thought maybe this week I could take it easy and talk about Gen Z problems or some shit. Apparenty not.
I get to see everyone who's subscribed to this blog so far (btw, thank you, love you, would send y'all a present if I could), and because of this data I know that not everyone's from Ashoka, and about 67% of my subscribers right now are male. The former was expected but the latter... caught me off-guard. Extremely off-guard. Y'all are about to learn a lot in this blog post.
To the women reading: I'm sorry that we have to deal with this shit every day.
Quick recap. Last year, around this exact time, Ashoka had its own #metoo movement. It was an extremely triggering time for nearly every woman I know either because one of the stories hit too close, or we recognized one of the men accused. It was also a confusing time, because like many women, some of us still didn't know if our stories were even "serious" enough to be stated during such a movement, because it wasn't obvious physically sexual abuse.
Not that there's any thing as "obvious" abuse. It's all abuse. But y'know. Sometimes abuse feels like a mistake when it's not obviously violent. Doesn't change the fact that it's still abuse.
The reason I bring this up is because there's a bit of a #metoo redux going on right now. I've been writing this post over the last two days, but when I began writing this there were still so many stories coming out. It's such an uncanny callback to last year that I genuinely feel like I'm living those days on a time loop.
The anger, the resentment, the fury, and the sadness are the exact same notes. I don't know how to separate those emotions anymore.
I didn't know if I should write this post because I don't know if I can talk about this without talking about myself, and I don't want to talk about myself because I don't want those things to be in the public domain. That's the boundary I draw for myself. I realize now that just because I don't say exactly what happened with me, that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to feel the frustration and anger.
This is, I'd like to think, such a uniquely feminine experience: constantly being fucking angry because there's always at least one man in your social circles who's a piece of shit, but you just don't know which one it could be, so you always have to be on guard.
You're always in whisper networks listening to names and hoping that someone you know isn't a rapist or an abuser. You're constantly fearing that the man you're on a date with or hooking up with has raped/abused or WILL rape/abuse someone and depending on his mood, you could either get by unscathed or be subjected to one of the worst days of your life.
It just never ends.
Society as a whole is still to get past the absolute joke that is the #notallmen movement and the stupid presumption that fake accusations somehow actually do anything for women. Structures of accountability are deeply flawed in that they tend to place the burden of proof on the victim rather than the accused. If you want any sort of due process recourse, you have to be ready to bare your trauma to any random fucking person who's involved in the process, regardless of whether you trust them, and you have no idea if they're even going to believe you. Somehow, abusing a woman is the easiest crime to get away with.
I don't know where to redirect this anger except into all-caps WhatsApp conversations and solidarity messages. This anger simmers every single day, and during times like these it finally bubbles over, but it has no place to go. I feel angry for other women who had to go through vile shit at the hands of men who can't fathom human decency, I feel angry for myself at being unable to publicly articulate my experiences, but most importantly I feel angry at the institutions that allow sexual harrassment and abuse to run unchecked.
The final thing I want to mention, which is something that honestly fuels my anger even more, is the myth of perfect feminism, especially for women and non-binary people.
As soon as you brand yourself as a feminist (and I don't mean putting "feminist" in your Instagram bio and proceeding to slut shame and put down other women behind that guise), everybody scrutinizes every single word you say and action you take. I hesitate to call it pedestalization, because that implies people do it to look up to you. It's more like being put under really ugly overhead lighting so that if you even move a muscle wrong, someone can use that as proof of your "performativity" and use it to devalue or delegitimize every single ounce of good you may have ever done.
I've seen this happen to some of the more giving and admirable feminists I know. One mistake from their past – association with a suspicious man, incorrect decisions due to lack of information, or simply just not having spoken up once (despite the 999 other times they have) – comes back to haunt them.
It's a modern-day witch hunt: any deviation from the expected "perfect" presentation, and you're set on digital fire. Everybody who's ever detested you comes out to dance around the flames.
Perfect feminism is impossible.
Nobody can be perfect and make the correct decisions every single time; it's statistically impossible. All of us, at some point, either have or will make a mistake. Many people, mostly abusers or apologists, will use that opportunity to bring us down a few notches, or invalidate our work. We literally get stuck with a higher moral expectation than most men wherein an intentional and repeated abuser can post a half-assed apology and forget about it, but we're cancelled as soon as we make one completely unintentional mistake. This is how the patriarchy weaponizes the myth of perfect feminism.
I don't know how to remove ourselves from this scrutiny. I don't think it can ever go away. It's like how you can never really get rid of ill-wishing people: they'll find a way to be around. It's always going to be an uphill battle because people will use this argument as an argument against cancelling actual harrassers and enablers, even though the two aren't even remotely the same. The best we can do is stand in solidarity with each other and genuinely engage with our mistakes and learn from them with each other.
This blog post is so unstructured it hurts me to post this, but honestly I don't give a single fuck. The structure here doesn't matter. I've said what I wanted to say and I really don't care if it doesn't follow some sort of pretentious fucking thesis structure.