So quick recap: Everywhere is filled with SexMonsters, and Everything is Garbage. This is the default setting now.
Less quick recap: We’ve lost a lot of our heroes. Is there room to debate who should be defined as a “hero”? Sure. Should we also discuss the gravity of attaching the word “hero” to people who are only humans, and, often, not even that good of humans? Absolutely. Have I now employed two different Seinfeld jokes even though I didn’t consume the show more than the casual viewing? Yes, and that’s the topic for another post. For now I’d like to ignore those (possibly) pressing issues, and focus on a different topic altogether: The Worthy Game.
The Worthy Game is what I’m calling the act of outside parties deciding which cases of sexual harassment/abuse/assault should be addressed and the perpetrator shunned, and which cases are Not That Big Of A Deal. Most sane people agree that Roy Moore fondling the under-aged breasts of an under-aged girl while forcibly removing her clothes rises to the level of A Big Deal. Al Franken groping two different women is NTBOAD. Harvey Weinstein raping several women and just creeping the fuck out of every woman in a twelve-mile radius is a big deal. Louis C.K. masturbating in front of five different women? You guessed it, NTBOAD.
It’s dehumanizing on a few levels. It attempts to invalidate victims’ very real and reasonable responses to violation. It attempts to give the power to arbitrate instances of abuse to people who have absolutely no business arbitrating anything. And most importantly, it gives a fake air of objectivity and rationality to what is clearly just another goddamn case of denying our blatant rape culture. (No one thinks you’re being even-handed if you attempt to weigh the severity of sex crimes. We just think you’re a dick.) All of these things are infuriating, but, far and away, the worst part (and the part for which I will one day watch this whole world burn) is the implication that cases deemed Unworthy need to get over it and stop bothering us with your petty bullshit.
I mean, right? What reason is there to decide how serious an act is unless you intentionally want to dismiss the acts not considered important enough? It puts victims in a weird position because, and try to follow me here, we were mostly keeping our “bullshit” to ourselves in the first goddamn place.
Take, for example, Al Franken’s second accuser. Lindsay Menz wanted a picture with a Senator. She took a picture during which said Senator groped her. And this is when she began a years’ long campaign to discredit every position Franken has ever held, ruin his professional life, and leave his personal life in shambles. J.K., she posted on Facebook that he was a creeper, and went about her fucking day. And I assure you, this is what victims do ninety-nine-percent of the time. We mostly don’t make a big deal about the gross day-to-day assaults and harassment, because we wouldn’t be able to get anything else done. If victims don’t talk about the overwhelming Sex Abuse Soup we’re all just marinating around in, some people (let’s be honest, mostly cishet men) have no idea that these kinds of “low-level” sex crimes happen. But when we do talk about them, our stories are judged inconsequential. It’s a bizarre Catch-22 that we’ve all gotten ourselves into. People deny that rape culture exists because they’ve never heard of anything bad happening, and insist that anyone speaking out against rape culture is exaggerating. Then victims are all, “Oh, this bad stuff happens to me on the daily.” And other people are all, “That doesn’t seem that bad. Maybe just try not talking about it.” And then I personally am all, “Because, motherfucker, we were being quiet until you called us liars.”
So fuck it, let’s try this a different way. People don’t believe victims when we don’t talk about it, they don’t believe us when we do, they don’t take our stories seriously when we tell them, and they say it’s our fault that bad things happen to us when we won’t speak out. So let’s try it this way: I personally have enough stories of sexual misconduct committed against me that I separate them both chronologically, and by level of familiarity with the perpetrator (Stranger, Acquaintance, and that gold star Friend level). I’ve had that shit happen, and I considered myself to be one of the lucky ones. If you want to continue to ignore the experiences of sexual assault victims, whatever. I clearly won’t change your mind. But don’t you dare fucking pretend that we started this.