I learned about the “Me too” thingy by seeing friends’ Facebook status updates and felt it was appropriate to add my own little drop to the bucket. It seems like a good idea to help raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault against women. But I have mixed feelings about the, I guess “micromovement,” one might call it—as I have about a lot of feminist statements and calls to arms and such.
It troubles me that the “Me too” thingy might exacerbate the problem that people grossly, habitually underestimate the percentage of men who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. This is much more widespread and difficult to address because the stigma against men speaking out about their experience of harassment and assault is so much more powerful than it is for women. Probably no woman would be surprised if every single one of her female friends said “Me too.” But if every man who has been harassed or assaulted were to do the same, people of both genders would most likely be deeply shocked.
The other thing that is concerning to me is that often it seems like feminists blame men in general for the inappropriate actions of individuals. Yes, considering how many incidents of inappropriate behavior are occurring, the percentage of men who commit them must be pretty high. But I don’t see it really addressing the problem to lump them together with men who would never even entertain the idea of cat calling a stranger, let alone assaulting someone.
I think it’s interesting, looking at my own experience as a young female pastor in a mainline denomination … I can think of three separate situations in which, as a pastor (and pastoral candidate almost ready to be ordained) it seemed to me than certain women in positions of authority exercised their power over me in a manner that I felt was inappropriate. I cannot recall any similar situations involving men. Overall, I have felt more respected and supported by male colleagues in ministry than female colleagues. (I should note that the instances of perceived abuses of power were minor and ultimately turned out, at least in some sense, “okay.”)
So, anyway, I really question the value of talking about abuses of power against women as if they were something that men do to women. Rather, it seems like something that certain individuals, male and female have particular problems with. And, I feel it's important to share, I do not blame them for it. Every single one of us has some deep-seated resentment and confusion about gender issues (and when I say "confusion," I am referring to a whole host of confused feelings people have about gender, not just ambivalence about one's gender role). The resentment and confusion is worse for some than others. But the more each of us develops the capacity to look compassionately and honestly within ourselves, the more we will be able to forgive others who are struggling and bring grace into our discussion of these issues.