#Metoo. This small hashtag has become revolutionary. It has opened our eyes to how many women and men have fallen victim to sexual harassment and assault. It has provided a sense of unity amongst those who have experienced or seen this type of darkness, and from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like #Metoo will be going away anytime soon. Is that a good thing though? Shouldn’t we continue to let the world know of the many survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault? It is a good thing. Right?
What happens to these online phenomena? What will become of #Metoo in the long run? Do you have an idea? Is it positive or negative?
I have an idea, but unfortunately, it isn’t as positive as most people would want it to be.
#Metoo has established itself as a badge of honor, an accessory that people are proud to wear because they feel it is something positive and good. But people forget where #Metoo came from. They forget that it came from a horrid memory, a trauma that caused pain and will always cause a semblance of pain. #Metoo is seen as a rose, but people forget that it grew amongst thorns. And now, after people have seen this #Metoo being sported, they categorize the people who wear this badge. They give them a name, a label that says, “this is what you are because of this thing you have.” We’re already familiar with labels such as, “the depressed guy/girl” and “the anxious guy/girl” and as far as I’m aware, these labels give off a negative connotation.
This is why I decided to publish this article anonymously: because I don’t want to be labeled. Have I been sexually harassed and or sexually assaulted? Yes and yes. I’ve been living with post-traumatic stress disorder since being molested at a very young age for years. I know very well that if I were to tweet #Metoo, give a TED talk about my struggles, or in any way tell the world that “this is what happened to me,” I would just be labeled as the “PTSD girl”. This is the fate of all who wear the badge of #Metoo, whether they like it or not. You don’t decide how you’re labeled by others, because you have no control over it.
You might ask though, how does the world view those with PTSD? Broken. You might not be broken because some guy catcalled you at two AM, but I can almost guarantee that those who were victims of sexual assault might agree with me. PTSD means you’ve encountered real-life monsters who only saw you as a thing for them to steal. Victims of sexual assault know that these monsters took a thing from inside them that will never be returned. They are incomplete forever. I am incomplete forever. I was alone, bullied, and ignored because of the aftermath of an experience I never wanted to have. And now after years of torment, neglect, tears, degradation, and sadness, this thing is being glamorized, and everyone wants to be a part of it. For years, I and others suffered because we were labeled different, and now we watch as our suffering becomes fashionable with the creation of #Metoo.
You know what people who suffer really want? I can tell you what it’s not: being told that our scars are beautiful, because those scars came from hell. My scars are not beautiful; they are a reminder that monsters really do exist, and you can discover them at any age. People who suffer just want things to be normal, and for their lives to return to how they were before. We don’t want labels, or a reason to tweet #Metoo. We want more than anything to be normal. #Metoo doesn’t do that for us; instead, it makes us less normal by emphasizing that we were victims. We don’t want to be told how our strength is inspiring, because we wish we didn’t need a reason to be strong.
The world doesn’t care about this. The world is obsessed with being “different”. It’s a fetish–a fetish that PTSD will become as well. After the release of “The Fault In Our Stars”, people started to fetishize cancer. People wrongfully saw cancer as something sexy, and joked about how they wished they had cancer because then they could fall in love. The fetishization of PTSD gives people the idea that being a victim of sexual assault is a glamorous thing, and that it makes you more beautiful. People then fantasize about how if they were sexually assaulted, they could join in the #Metoo movement and be seen as strong and beautiful.
In the long run, #Metoo will just become a label. It will make people forget about all the ugliness that is PTSD. My scars aren’t beautiful–they are horrible. I’m not proud that I’ve been sexually assaulted; that is why I never took part in #Metoo, even though my peers around me wanted me to do it. Unlike them, I have a reason to let the world know that I too suffer. I am broken and I have been for a long time.
I am not okay with my scars and with those that inflicted them amongst me, but I am not proud of them either. I know that I am going to be like this for a long time, but I have accepted this.
I’m not saying you have to be ashamed of your experiences, but instead of glamorizing them, accept that they are a part of you. Once you’ve accepted that bad things have happened to you, you should keep living. Seek help if you need help. It is okay to get help if something traumatizes you.
PTSD is a bad thing, as is its source. It’s okay to accept that you are broken, but after that realization, you should get the help you need to make yourself less broken. We need to remember that sexual assault and sexual harassment, as well as their aftereffects, are awful. It is how we pick ourselves back up and heal, though, that is indeed beautiful.