« Focus | Main | Les Peupliers / Poplars: painting trees in Champlain's footsteps »

October 16, 2017


Thank you, Beth. One reaction I've seen this morning has saddened me, and that's conversations on FB about whether women who "were lucky" (i.e, presumably that means not raped) are entitled to post it. Why do we need to determine degrees of entitlement to that status? I was "lucky", but the fear and caution generated by those early experienced have shaped my life in ways that would never occur to men. Women won't go hiking alone, or travel, or even go walking in their neighbourhood at night... I don't know that the world will be any different for my granddaughter than it was for me or my daughter, but if we don't shine a light on this, for sure it won't.

Thank you for this.

Hi Beth, here are more thoughts. First, the Facebook faces: So any friend's posts whizzing by, and one has the choice of the WOW face (disingenuous) the LIKE thumb up (unfortunately, ambiguous), the Heart, and the Weepy face (or even the Angry face, which I'm not seeing many of on this topic....?) As I wrote on my own FB "METOO" yesterday after getting a couple of weepy faces... this is not a pity party. It is a political act. I did throw a lot of hearts around yesterday, hearts for courage and for sharing courage. Remarkable, isn't it, how memories of different degrees of bad behaviour keep coming to mind? This whole episode (the Hollywood thing, the FB phenomenon) seems to unlock a room where we kept all sorts of things safely out of mind. Leaving aside a number of times I had been "moved on" by men who did or didn't know me/ thankfully, not raped/ I also recalled this morning the only time I ever worked in Washington... a single afternoon, at a book launch... a US senator came up to me and wanted a free copy of our book. We only had five on hand and I'd been told to hang on to them. So I said no. "Young Lady Do You Know Who I Am?" That's the attitude. It doesn't count as abuse but if left a certain feeling that I Had Been Put In My Place just for trying to do my job. It was 1969. At the time, I just grokked his name tag, processed that fact instantaneously, looked up at him (and I am tall) and smiled. "Why, you're My Senator." I can't even remember whether I gave him the book or not. I just remember feeling I had never really understood privilege until then.

Kurt, thank you. I've been surprised how few of my male friends have acknowledged these disclosures at all, and I appreciate very much that you did.

Donna, and Vivian both: First, I agree completely about the conversations about who has a "right" to post that they've been harassed or abused -- please, do we really need to debate the degrees of these experiences? I have never been raped, thank God, but I have been subjected to a whole range of behaviors, some of which came very close to that. Still, I have also never been a woman in an office who is oogled or ridiculed or commented upon every single day for months or years: I'm very aware how humiliating that would be, and it's "only" words. Words that could affect a woman for the rest of her life.

I feel fortunate that in Montreal I don't feel afraid. I walk alone in the parks and streets of my neighborhood at all hours, and really don't worry about my safety -- in the U.S. it would be insane to do this; even in my small rural town in Vermont, I was very careful, didn't go out alone at night, carried pepper spray in the woods, had a big dog for a while, checked my back car seat, worried about parking garages...all the things you mentioned. We are very lucky to live in a place where the level of violent crime against women is so low, and I think it begs the question, "why?" Yes, most of the violent crime is domestic, and that is just as problematic as anywhere, but the incidence is less, and I think it is because people are less stressed, have greater access to basic services and basic needs, and do not live in such a consumerist, competitive, capitalistic society as the U.S. which tends to make men and women alike feel belittled and inadequate.

Vivian, we've all been reliving ugly traumas in the past couple of days, things that we had locked away in a closet. I think the sharing is healthy and necessary, but it hurts too. What FB button is appropriate? I've been both sad and angry, and filled with love for all my friends who have admitted #MeToo.

Thank you. It is about all of us really, and the world we want to live in. If we don't acknowledge the problem and stand together, the future will be no better.

I read this after posting my own Me Too on my blog.

I am not in agreement with waiting for perpetrators of harassment or assault to take the lead, because the acts women are describing is the opposite of courageous, responsible, and conscious behaviour, the kind of life stance those who did it did not display at the time. Are we to think, Oh, totally changed now?

I would l•like• to hear persons who have confronted and regret past behaviour talk about that as well, but I will not wait for them. I have heard some persons who have committed various crimes and then undergone a spiritual transformation describe their process of change, it is compelling.

It is not a cliché to say I am sorry this happened to you, nor was it when you said it to me.

It's a minefield for sympathetic men and a somewhat different minefield for women. But I must comment because I can bring one useful thing to this discussion: my advanced age (I'm eighty two).

For I can also say "Me too." On one far from rare occasion at school (a fee-paying school which sent many of its alumni to Oxbridge) the geography master had me out front of the class, compared my size of shoe with his, and then lashed me across the bum with a cane for having larger feet than his. Corporal punishment was allowed in that school as it was in other British schools in the late forties but one might at least have expected that such beatings would be confined to acts of discipline. This had nothing to do with discipline (two other overweight boys were caned for "being fat"). As far as my powers of observation and analysis have any credibility these beatings were a ploy on the part of that teacher to gain popularity with the other boys in the class.

All of whom laughed appreciatively at the spectacle.

But this isn't the point I want to make. There was nothing secret about these beatings. Not the slightest hint of censure. That particular master went on to become headmaster somewhere else (something which surprises me to this day). What would these days have warranted a jail sentence, was educational routine then.

I have no idea whether these beatings were a form of sexual abuse but they were most definitely abuse. Scroll forward and one of the depressing aspects about this subject is the length of time that can elapse between the crime and the first faltering steps towards some form of investigation. Decades in some instances. Some younger liberal-minded people must shake their heads, thankful that time has ruled out such barbarism; I agree. But as we know the past is a different country and they do things differently there. Public beatings are one of the things they do differently. In Britain they hanged a man for what would now be labelled "learning difficulties".

Recently I wrote a post condemning sentimentality, in particular the Myth of the Golden Age. Ah yes, a simpler, more innocent time when there were no smartphones. Perniciously the past is sometimes regarded as a period of greater freedom. My geography master would no doubt have agreed. I also agree that what I've just written helps not a jot.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.