Every day, another man is brought low by #MeToo. Some men are alarmed and comparing it to the Salem Witch Trials (men who apparently are unaware of irony). Some women are angry and cheering, some women are angry and skeptical.
My own reaction is mixed.
My mama taught me how to flirt. Flirting was a dance of flattery and smiles that made life more charming, flattered those who could help you, made even the rudest man puff his chest up and offer to carry something. I was such a flirt that my principal in kindergarten – kindergarten! – dubbed me “Kissyface” because I kept trying to go after the older boys for a smooch.
Obviously, flirting was a dance I was still learning the steps to.
When I got to that age where curves softened my body – way younger than my peers – older boys still looked my way. And men. I had something but I didn’t know what it was or how to use it – or what the consequences could be. I was clumsy. I probably hurt people. And I got hurt, too.
Because the consequences for that dance of flirtation were that some men tried to join in and lead me to dark places. There was the drama teacher who promised an easy “A” if I just followed flirtation with what he called friendliness. There were countless bosses who said things just to watch me blush and to watch and see if I would say yes. And the alcohol-fueled date rape after college.
So yes, #MeToo. And Three. And Four. Like the beat of a dance you can’t stop.
Even years away from all that, I still wonder. Was I too flirtatious? Was I just so sexually powerful that the men couldn’t help themselves? I mean, that’s what some of them said.
“I’ve never done this before…”
“You make me so….”
Always my power making powerful men helpless.
Maybe they were just awkward at the flirtation dance, and not evil. Maybe they were just guilty of #MeToo Manslaughter and not #MeToo Homicide. Well, except for the rapist.
I asked my friends how they felt. Granted, the survey isn’t scientific and the “n” is almost nil, but I found it interesting.
I asked my friends to check all that apply and I did a different survey for women than for men, thereby probably invalidating the whole methodology. Still. Here are the results when asked how #MeToo made them feel:
Vindicated that women are finally being heard – 54.17%
Uneasy because not sure how this will play out – 45.83%
Angry that the issue is so widespread – 45.83%
Angry that these women are speaking out – 0%
Skeptical that there is such a widespread problem – 8.33%
None of the Above – 0%
Afraid to Interact with Women in Workplace – 0%
Neutral – Doesn’t affect me – 0%
Angry – These guys getting a raw deal -0%
Angry – Those poor women! -50%
Sad – Had no idea the problem was so prevalent -50%
Resolved to change my future behavior – 0%
None of the Above – 0%
Women added comments ranging from being traumatized at having to relive their own experience, to anger that the attention would be fleeting, to hopeful that we’d reached a tipping point. Men didn’t comment and – perhaps all my friends are really evolved males – but none doubted the women who have stepped forward.
I want to believe that some of these men being brought low – and I am NOT talking about people who brag about grabbing pussies, or who date girls so young they have to ask their mothers’ permission – but maybe some of them are just as clumsy at knowing the dance as I was. But I doubt it. Because I know that if these things happened to my daughter and not to my own young self, I would have no mixed feelings.
My dance of flirtation brought me the illusion of control. The difference, I think, is that most of these men have actual control. When you have the power in a relationship, the steps aren’t a dance anymore. A dance is choreography for two. #MeToo is an advance by someone with power, and retreat by someone without. It’s not a dance. It’s a goose-step. Complete, apparently, with goosing.
The survey is still open and I would love to hear your responses.
Women can take the survey here
Men can take the survey here