We all like Weinstein have gone astray.
“I f all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
I didn’t take much time to think about it. In an almost knee-jerk-like reaction, I tweeted
: “I was 13. He was a 26-year-old relative I trusted. #MeToo”
My story was easier for me to tell in those 57 characters than it is to spill out in greater detail. The year I was 13, we stayed for a week at my grandparents’ house over Christmas break. We spent that time as we normally did, hanging out with our extended family, eating my grandma’s incomparable Swedish fudge, and watching movies that my grandpa had recorded onto VHS tapes. We would all stay up late into the evening, playing card games and laughing. That particular year, my step-cousin joined us all for our week of family fun. One night, my siblings and step-cousin and I were the last ones still awake because our cutthroat game of Mille Bornes kept us up well past midnight. After the game ended, my brother and sister went to bed, and I was alone with my cousin. I knew I couldn’t go to bed until he left because my grandma had instructed me to lock up the house after his departure. He offered to give me a back rub, and I naively accepted. In my exhaustion and terrified confusion, I remained silent when he began to touch me inappropriately. To this day, I do not fully understand why I did not open my mouth to release the “No!” that was screaming at full volume inside me.
I know that I am fortunate. I was a victim, yes, but my cousin’s actions on that traumatic night ended at unwanted groping. It is the one and only sexual assault I have ever experienced. I told my mom as soon as she woke up the next morning, and she believed and comforted me well. Even still, it wounded me and shattered my innocence. I know well the deep pain that sexual assault causes, and my heart breaks knowing that there are many others who have lived through abuses far more extensive. Tragically, many cannot point merely to one isolated moment when they were victimized.
On October 10, The New Yorker
published a story about Harvey Weinstein, a powerful Hollywood film executive. In the article, which followed a 10-month investigation, 13 women claimed that Weinstein, in incidents ranging over the past 25 years, sexually harassed or assaulted them. Since then, more women have come forward with their own accounts of Weinstein’s abuses, exposing a man who wielded his power to dominate, intimidate and manipulate women to satiate his sordid desires. Weinstein’s selfishness and casual disregard for the value and dignity of those women is stunning and sickening. It has prompted a nationwide conversation about sexual harassment, the abuse of power and the silence both of victims and bystanders. The #MeToo movement, launched in 2007 by Tarana Burke, rocketed to viral popularity within days, in direct response to the Weinstein scandal. I, along with millions of other women, have taken to social media to declare that we, too, have been victims.
Through the years, I have seen so many women and men struggle with the pain caused by sexual assault. They remain silent because they don’t want to suffer again, or they don’t want to be labeled, or they are afraid what people may think of them. They swallow their shame and suffering.
When I posted my tweet, I hoped that my small admission, added to the online pile of similar statuses, might send a clear message to others: We see you. We hear you. We get it. You are not alone.
As the days passed, I saw those two small words flit through my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds. Me too
. Occasionally, a friend elaborated. Most often, though, only those two words were posted—a simple, stark statement of suffering and solidarity. Friends from church, high school classmates, former co-workers, relatives and former students all chimed in.
#MeToo. I am a victim.
ast week, I sat in the school parking lot, waiting to pick up my two oldest children. It would be convenient, for the sake of this article, to say I was pondering current events. I wasn’t. I was playing Words with Friends. I put the game down as my children slid into our minivan, and we began our drive home. Somehow, in 10 short minutes, our conversation devolved from my standard question (“What would you like to share with me about your day?”) into a heated argument. Infuriated, I spit venomous words at my son. I threatened him. Bullied him. Belittled him. Helpless in the face of my rage, my gentle-hearted daughter retreated to the far side of the cul-de-sac. My son withdrew, too, retreating behind an emotional defense of sullen silence. I stormed into our house and shut myself in my bedroom. My anger soon dissolved into regret, and I sought out my son and daughter to apologize. A parent’s wrath is a fearsome force, and I had wounded them both with my fury. Later that evening, a horrifying realization stunned and sickened me.
I am Harvey Weinstein.
This #MeToo confession is a much, much uglier one.
I am not trying to trivialize the horrific nature of sexual assault by admitting that I have misused my power and caused others pain. Sexual assault is an act of violence that profanes one of the most intimate expressions of love and leaves shattered hearts and lives in its wake. It is grotesquely evil. It is right and good that we bring it into the light and label it as the sheer wickedness that it is.
However, like Weinstein, I have used the powerful position that God has gifted me—in my case, my motherhood—and with that power I have assailed others (my children). I have wounded their souls and attacked their identities. And my children aren’t my only victims. I have savaged my husband with my selfishness. I have damaged my friends with my self-absorption. I, too, am a sinner.
True, lasting change will not come about only by exposing how widespread the problem of sexual assault is. We must also examine our own hearts and be willing to confess the inescapable truth. Yes, we have been damaged and scarred. Yes, we have been innocent victims. But we, too, have inflicted pain on others through our own apathy, selfishness and anger. We, too, have misused power and manipulated others to further our own desires.
If all the people who have hurt someone else with their words or actions were to write “Me too” as their status, we would quickly see the stunning magnitude of our sin problem. As Romans 3:23 declares, we have all
sinned. We have all
fallen short of God’s standard of greatness.
#MeToo. I am a sinner.
an acknowledging our own culpability truly change anything, though? Even if we can empathize to some degree with the abused and the abusers, how can that help us escape the pain we both receive and give? What can bring an end to our shame and guilt?
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free,
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
— from “Before the Throne of God Above” by Charitie Lees Smith
Our statements of “Me too” can never exterminate the sin that infests our hearts. Jesus can. His “Me too” is ultimately the only one we need.
When we are helpless and innocent, battered and broken by the evil actions of others, he sees. “Me too,” he comforts. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was that chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
When we suffer in silence, he hears. “Me too,” he whispers. “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Jesus, God himself, laid aside his heavenly power. He humbled himself and became a man. Instead of manipulating, he served. Instead of intimidating, he loved. Instead of dominating, he yielded up his very life for us. He tasted suffering and shame; for our sake, he became sin (1 Corinthians 5:21). He died in our place, for our sin. His life, death and resurrection clearly proclaim to us all, “I see you. I hear you. I get it. You are not alone.” He became human and paid the price justice demanded for our sin. In exchange, he grants us his sinlessness. His perfection. His right relationship with God. Because of Jesus, we can stand unashamed before God and boldly say, “Me too. I am your child. I am loved. I am accepted. I am forgiven. I am free.”
The “Me too” that Jesus gives us will change us forever. It is so powerful, so undeserved, that it will take us an eternity to grasp its magnitude.
#MeToo. I am his, and he is mine.