“Me too” – Two small English words that are being used now to bring light and truth to a ghastly sickness in our culture. The number of women I know and care for that have posted this to their status on Facebook keeps rising, and with each one my heart breaks a bit more. I am angered. I am frustrated.
In case this is the first time you’ve been introduced to the recent “Me too” phenomenon, the status update has become viral following the sexual assault and harassment allegations brought against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. But it is not just tied into that man and his history of horrible behavior. In fact, that is just one of many straws that have piled so high that it seems that camel’s back won’t just break but explode. The Weinstein story has served to shed a light on something that cannot, must not continue: A toxic masculinity and warped expression of sexuality combined with massive male insecurities and abhorrent sense of entitlement. It is a culture that shrugs off rape, makes excuses for the basest of behavior and turns a blind eye and deaf ear to its victims. It is sick, period.
For God’s sake, enough is enough.
I have become Facebook friends with a poet I greatly admire, a young American named Meggie Royer. I’ve posted a poem by her on this blog before. As I’ve gotten to know her through her work, I’ve come to realize that she is another woman who has endured rape. By that I mean she has not only endured the horrible act of rape but all the surrounding awfulness that occurs, always to the woman and never to the man, it seems. To her great credit, and probably because she is an artist of considerable skill, she has taken that experience and turned it into art and action. Meggie works at a domestic violence shelter and uses her ability to express so many difficult if not impossible things for others to express. From a distance and across the internet, I have come to respect her greatly.
Today, and for the rest of this week, I want to share poetry that addresses sexual assault and harassment, and the sick culture that gives birth to it. It is art as communicator, helping others to empathize and experience; and it is art as weapon of destruction, to tear down this awful system in order to give rise to something healthy and equal in its place. I asked Meggie for some suggestions and she provided some exceptional ones.
Here is a link to a poem she herself published recently. Please take the time to read it, especially if you know that you need to understand more what women who have been assaulted have gone through and continue to go through. All of us, but especially men, need to have the courage to listen and then the courage to act.