Although I've been watching and listening and learning intently, I haven't said much publicly about the #metoo movement--in part because as a white man with a Ph.D. I'm trying not to inadvertently de-center the voices of those most concerned, who are routinely doubted/ridiculed/scorned/attacked for speaking truth. It's an all-too-easy mistake to make, and I've done it plenty.
Also, ain't nobody's business but mine what happened to me.
But as I watch the body-blows to our white-supremacist, patriarchal train-wreck of a civilization come with increasing force and rapidity from all directions, and as so many of us are forced to confront our outworn ways of thinking, speaking, and acting, I believe I need to contribute something. So here goes:
I was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. It happened on more than one occasion at the hands of older kids, male and female, in my neighborhood. I remember some details, but not all. My parents were unaware and did nothing to protect me. In ways that become clearer and easier to manage with every passing year, I realize that this abuse more than 30 years ago has affected just about EVERYTHING about my life since then.
And there are a whole host of very good, well-considered reasons why I've decided not to confront the perpetrators or my parents about it.
I hope that if one of them were up for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court I'd change my calculation and have the guts to come forward.
The point is that men and women; white, black, and brown; of whatever gender or gender identity; in positions of power or not, those whose first reaction is to question or discredit (or much worse) an accuser and excuse a perpetrator are betraying their own complicity in a profoundly disturbed social system. I suspect many of them are also indicating the extent of their own unprocessed guilt, pain, shame, and trauma that inevitably come with living in such a society.
Give accusers the benefit of the doubt. Insist that perpetrators be held accountable, regardless of how old the crime is. Understand your role in building a new civilization and rise to the occasion or go down with this rapidly sinking ship.