The Unsettling Truths of ‘Me Too’
Seeing “Me, too” under the names of women I love and respect broke my heart. My first reaction was righteous anger, to be the noble knight. “Point me in the direction of the culprit that I may run him through!” Then I felt less righteousness, and more anger. More inner mobster. “Heaven help the pig if he’s ever within arm’s reach.”
To my surprise, I felt another feeling: Slight familiarity, a hint of empathy. For the victims. But also for some of the accused.
Power and Vulnerability
I will not say “Me too.” To do so would be to minimize what these women and girls and boys endure. I take fully to heart what Amy Swearer wrote in her gut-wrenching article for The Daily Signal detailing her sexual assault: “You. Don’t. Understand.” Correct, ma’am. I. Don’t. Understand.
What I can say is I have had experiences which leave me within range of kinda-sorta knowing what harassment is like. I worked as a server for my wife at a massive, multi-day catering gig for a Los Angeles buyers market. I went around with my cart and several male dealers hit on me pretty hard.
I tried to joke it off, “You know my wife is just down that hallway. You know, the red-headed Jersey Girl with the large knives?”
I was just a worker, knowing we needed the money, not wanting to cause a scene, not wanting to risk Rusty’s position. I felt more frustrated and exposed than I would have admitted at the time. I don’t know what it’s like to be a waitress getting sexually harassed, but I have a little idea.
I also have a teeny idea, a glimpse into what an unfortunate number of children go through. I somewhat get the kids in the Joe Biden videos.
In my early years at Rosecroft Elementary I had a couple teachers who fawned repeatedly, excessively over my eyes. Hovering over me, making a huge fuss about my eyes and eyelashes in class. Not once. But two, three, four times. “Ooh, Albert, your eyelashes are soooo long! And those big, brown eyes!” (I discovered years later that one of those teachers had actually gushed about my eyes in an official school record.)
It felt different than compliments I got from my aunts. The repetition left me embarrassed, uncomfortable, rattled and incredibly self-conscious. I cannot be sure, but I think that’s when I stopped looking people in the eyes.
Again, I don’t know what little girls and boys have experienced. But I have seen a step or two down the road.
What about the view from the other direction?
A Little Weinstein in Us All
In the past couple weeks I’ve written several stories about the assorted sordid sex harassment scandals. It’s been easy talking about the horrible ogres and their alleged crimes. It’s been easy to condemn the Hollywood and political machines that helped enable this behavior for decades.
I have to come off my high horse. I recognize how easy it is to fall off that horse.
No, I haven’t sexually harassed anybody. But I do have to wonder: had I been in a position in L.A. where countless gorgeous women were coming to my office every day wanting something from me, would I have been tempted to take advantage? Mistake their professional need for personal desire?
If I were a director having to choose between two actresses, would I be more likely to pick the one willing — even eager — to go out with me? If everyone in town is telling me what a genius I am, handing me little trophies every year for my latest brilliant work, would I start thinking Pretty Young Things are my trophies as well?
I pray to God no. I’d like to think no. Especially once I was married. But to pretend I know for sure is hubris and folly.
The mirror can be as scary as a Clive Barker movie.
Did I honor and cherish in all purity all the women in my life? Did I treat them all biblically? Treasure in the manner we’re commanded to treasure? No. Sadly no. “Oh, but that was before you really were a Christian.” To that I say, “Shut up, devil. You’re just making excuses.” I hope wherever they currently walk they forgive me.
Recognizing the Power
So what do we do? The feminists are saying men must state what they’re going to do to stop the “rape culture.” A better question is, “What are we going to do about the sin culture?” We are fallen creatures, enslaved to our flesh. The line from gentleman to jerk is nowhere as long as we like to tell ourselves.
Human nature is deeply flawed. No one is righteous, not one. (Rom. 3:9–18; Mark 7:14–23). We must remain vigilant, self-aware, in prayer and full of the Holy Spirit. And not believe our own press, whether it’s “I’m invincible, I can do anything” or “I’m wonderful, I’d never do anything.”
We also hear the experts and analysts say with sexual harassment, it’s not about sex. It’s about power.
Here Jesus offers a way through.
but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:43-45)
You are not to be domineering over those in your charge, but instead be examples to the flock.
To put it another way: It’s hard to get on a power trip if you have a servant’s heart.
When it’s less about “Me” we will see less “Me, too.”