Unedited is the musings of our Editor-in-chief Amanda Swiger on topics ranging from marriage, photography, being an entrepreneur, LGBTQ issues and more. As the name implies, they are her unedited, unfiltered, totally honest thoughts because let's face it, the world could use a little more vulnerability.
I can’t sleep and it is largely because my brain is spinning with thoughts surrounding the #metoo campaign taking over social media. At first, I saw it as a way for women to show solidarity with each other, showing how often and prevelant assualt and sexual harassment are. But the longer I’ve sat with it all day...the more exhausted I’ve become.
As with most issues, there are several sides and arguments to consider. On the one hand, for many of my Facebook friends it has been freeing for them to see so many of the people they follow share similar stories. It’s cathartic. And for some, less lonely and isolating. There is strength in numbers and for those that have found it in seeing this hashtag, perhaps just taking the step to share their experiences is a start.
On another, there is also truth to the fact that no one ever should have to prove that sexual crimes happen all day, every day, to so many different people. No one owes the world their story. No one should have to say #metoo to prove that this is a problem. We should already KNOW that it is. It's also no on us, the victims, to do the work required to change rape culture and a society that has taught us that this is the norm.
On yet another hand, the conversation seems to most broadly leave out the voices of trans, non-binary, and masculine voices, who too have experiences sexual trauma and harassment. On a national level, we seem to be discussing this as a women’s issues, and depending on who your social media followers consist of, that is possibly all this is for you. If your part of the queer community or are a man who has experienced similar things, seeing status after status addressing only women can feel like being a victim all over again, as your experiences aren’t asked for or encouraged. Several of my friends said you weren’t intersectional if you didn’t include those people in your post. Others encouraged us to remind people that these issues affect everyone, not just women.
For me, I sit somewhere in the middle. Broken that so many of my friends posted heart wrenching stories. Proud of those that took a step out of the darkness for the first time and named their trauma. Sad for those, that like me, can’t name their experiences for their own safety. Frustrated by lack of inclusion and also by those policing how anyone talks about their own trauma. And mostly, confused on what the point of it all is.
So instead I lay here awake, wondering how to make sense of everything. As someone who can’t speak their story, who can’t put words to what they’ve experienced, who has experienced things from both men and women, what do I do with my own silence? Just because something isn’t safe doesn’t mean the words don’t feel like they aren’t bubbling up inside of you. Just because you can’t speak them doesn’t mean you don’t wish you could. It feels as though my heart could burst with the secrets I’ve held close for years. And yet, I don’t want that to silence someone else. I don’t want others to hold their stories in or pity me or not speak out. The same goes for how we talk about trauma. For some, words have immense power. Saying words like rape, assault, victim, exploitation, trafficked, harassed, etc give them power back. For others, this is triggering. How do both people have equal ability to live their truth without silencing someone else?
And that’s not even touching on the subject of how rape culture is actually a thing. That even how we talk about issues of abuse and assault passively place blame on women. That we believe that women can prevent themselves from being assaulted NOT that men shouldn’t assault women in the first place.
I guess my point is this. I don’t have answers. Just frustration and sadness and tears and anger. And that's ok. It’s ok to just put words to paper and admit that I feel as though I am drowning in these conversations. That my own silence is like being in the middle of an ocean filled with boats but knowing I can’t board any of them and I’m becoming too tired to swim. It’s ok to just step away. It’s ok to be defensive. It’s ok to not know. It’s ok to give myself grace. And it’s ok to extend that grace to others too. These are issues that affect the very core of who we are, they are personal and raw and that means we will react accordingly. It’s ok to practice self care. And it’s ok to ask for help if you can’t. And it’s ok to say I can’t do it anymore today and to try again tomorrow.