I fully support of those who say #MeToo and we need to hear more of them – not just those harassed and assaulted by the famous and wealthy, but the victims everyday assault, e.g. minimum wage employees living paycheque to paycheque, groped by their employers.
But I have reached the sad, inevitable conclusion: #MeToo is a popularity contest.
Consider these examples:
* In late 2017, Taylor Swift won a court case against a DJ who sexually assaulted her, putting his hand on her rear without her consent. Her case was easily won because she was famous, and he was a nobody.
* Kevin Spacey’s career came to a grinding halt ($500 in box office receipts for a movie) because a few men spoke up.
* Harvey Weinstein’s wretched behaviour and power came to an end, but only because dozens of women were finally able to equal the power of one pervert with friends and political connections.
* Bill Cosby was convicted after dozens of women’s reports of rape, but only after Hannibal Buress talked about the elephant in the room. Before that, “the women weren’t credible”.
* Ellen Pao was disbelieved and labelled the “crazy feminist” because she was one woman against Silicon Valley’s rampant sexist culture. She was powerless, therefore “she was the liar”, even as she spoke the truth.
Sexual assault isn’t just a power game when it’s being perpetrated, it’s a power game when it’s being reported. And telling the truth and having facts has no bearing on how things will end.
Last summer (I forget the exact Saturday night in September), I was attending a nightclub and speaking to a friend outside. She was standing with her back to the wall, I was a metre away and facing her.
Unexpectedly, a certain individual walked up behind me and grabbed my left buttock violently – hard enough that I stood on my toes in a panicked response. He sneered and walked away. Two days later, I had two bruises from where his fingers had touched me.
At the time, I was too humiliated to say anything, too uninformed to know or call it sexual assault. I learnt over the passing months that it was, and a few months after joining a women’s support group (to support a friend, not for myself) I became willing to speak up about it.
To my dismay, I found that because I am less socially popular than the male who violated me, I am assumed to be a liar. Worse, the woman to whom I was speaking and who witnessed the assault refuses to talk to me. She has taken the side of the attacker. The attacker has verbally threatened me because I chose to speak up. Other high profile LGBTQ people in Taipei are also taking his side.
I am not concerned about my safety, I can take care of myself. My concern is finding a way to direct a conversation and elicit an incriminating statement. Without evidence, it will be difficult.