When you say #NotMe and attribute it to your lack of attractiveness to men, you inadvertently lend credence to the idea that women secretly like being assaulted or harassed because it proves that we’re beautiful.
I see your tweets and posts on social media, your proclamation of #NotMe to indicate that you have not experienced sexual assault or harassment in your lifetime. As a woman who has gone through these things, I am glad to hear your voice among the barrage of #MeToo.
Your lives serve as examples to both men and women that sexual abuse is not an inevitable occurrence in a woman’s life. That men must do better.
However, in many cases, what comes after the #NotMe weakens that message. Some women are almost apologetic about their position, following their hashtag with an explanation that they must not be that attractive. In one case a friend of mine was so self-deprecating that my first instinct was to assure her that she was, in fact, beautiful.
I stopped just in time, once I realized that the second, unsaid piece of my comment would be that she is, in fact, beautiful enough to assault.
Sexual violence is not about attractiveness or even sex. It’s about oppressing women. Harvey Weinstein can play victim as a “sex addict” all he wants, but the reality is that it’s possible to have lots of kinds of sex with lots of partners without being a predator. His behavior was about degrading women. Sex was just the vehicle.
Once at a party when I’d been particularly outspoken about politics a man interrupted me to ask if I wanted to take him and his friend “skiing” (give them a double hand job). It wasn’t a serious proposition and trust me it did not make me feel desirable. It was just an attempt to shut me up by reducing me to a sexual object.
When you say #NotMe and attribute it to your lack of attractiveness to men, you inadvertently lend credence to the idea that women secretly like being assaulted or harassed because it proves that we’re beautiful. Your words can be used to support victim blaming theories that women would be assaulted less often if they dressed and acted less provocatively.
Some of you may believe those myths, but I bet many of you don’t. Sexual violence is so rampant in our world that I think you feel the need to somehow explain away your place outside the norm.
By proclaiming #NotMe with no explanation or apology you are standing in solidarity with all women by setting a new standard. We need you.
Anne Penniston Grunsted writes about parenting, disability, and family life from her perspective as a lesbian mama. She lives in Southern California with her wife and son. Read more of her writing at annepennistongrunsted.