I have been wanting to write something about abuse, and women, and feminism since the Weinstein scandal broke out. I approached it from a handful of angles; I got about halfway through a misguided thought-piece about the matriarchy and social ladder of hyenas, I practiced a shpiel on the “not cool bro” mentality and how to assert it, I even tried to find some way to reconcile how much I loved Louis C.K.’s stand-up but hated his actions(hint, can’t be done), none of it felt right.
I think there’s a reason why.
I think there’s a pretty obvious reason why.
I think there is an elephant, that is not just in the room, but has swollen and contorted itself so violently it has become the room. And on its tusks the reason is chiseled: that anytime abuse has made the brief cameo appearances in my life that it has, I was on the other side of it.
“But its cool, because now I’m so fucking woke.“
That’s really it though isn’t it? Men’s silent complacence towards the heinous things that women, LGBTQ, and any folks that aren’t us have been dealing with on the daily? That’s nothing new. We’ve known that since day one.
“But, I mean, that’s the world we we’re raised in.”
Morality is a light. A light that cannot be dimmed. And every time we convinced ourselves that something we did was excusable, we were placing thin white sheets in front of something bright and burning, until we couldn’t see the source anymore. But we knew it was still there. It was always there. There was just enough thinly woven something between us and it that we didn’t have to care anymore. But that light was still there, still shining, still glowing, still hot.
“Chill out, it was a joke.”
So we forgot about it. Forgot that there was something important trying to tell us something important. We hung up more sheets. Sheets with feverishly scrawled words in the darkest ink we could find, that said things like; “I wouldn’t”, “I didn’t”, “I won’t”, when of course we did, were, and will.
“I dunno man, I was hammered, who’s to say?”
We didn’t stop the thing we knew was wrong. We couldn’t silence the voice. We couldn’t dim the light. We just made it shine on things that weren’t us; thinner things, things that diffused and refracted, until what finally illuminated us was soft and assuring. We made it whisper caveats that gleefully excluded our names. We tried turning our lanterns and found that anything it cast its gaze on made us sick. So we put up more sheets.
“It is what it is.”
There is a burn coming. A burn to expunge eyes that appraise and singe hands that grasp. That light that we forgot about, that light that we chose to ignore, that light that we barricaded behind cotton and nothing, that light that used to throw itself against the walls of our chests until it became more comfortable to extract; it hasn’t cooled. It was never softened. It didn’t change. Its only grown. Its angry now, as it has always been. And it was our mistake for hiding it behind something flammable.