Time and the news move fast these days and it seems this particular moment has flown by. Nobody is talking about this anymore, though it was ALL anyone was talking about less than a week ago. Though I try to be timely in my topics here, I am publishing this anyway because the message is important and timeless, even though the moment has passed. There will be new ridiculous thing for me to write about tomorrow.
In my previous post on this topic, I spoke about the history of the court proceedings that recently occurred between these two, less-than-stellar exemplars of humanity. Now I will talk about why not only the process itself was rigged, but how the fallout will result in worse consequences for women living with and recovering from domestic abuse situations, regardless of “who started it” or who did what to whom.
So many things about this court proceeding were wrong, but most people did not see it for what it was at all. This fact was absolutely exploited and used by the plaintiff, the man bringing the civil suit against his ex-wife.
First of all, why were there any broadcast cameras in the room for this proceeding and who made that decision? The jury was not sequestered so they were allowed to go home every evening, watch the news or read the hot takes or view all the TikTok reactions to what they had considered in the courtroom each day. Is this considered “normal” for a high-profile civil proceeding now? These actors’ lives and less-than-proudest moments on display, filtered through our voracious and dysfunctional tabloid and social media ecosystem, providing a decision by internet, rather than by 12 people who might otherwise be present and attentive primarily to what was seen in the courtroom itself? I have had people say to me that they can’t believe that 12 people would have been influenced enough, swayed from their otherwise impartial opinions on the testimony, to have had social media play a role. Bullshit. We are all affected, more or less, by what goes on in the media everyday, even if we believe we’re not, we are. The zeitgeist is determined outside of us; we just live within it.
He got to be the first to tell his side of the story in the courtroom. This sets up the frame through which all subsequent tales of interpersonal drama and trauma has occurred between these two. Regardless of what she said or did on the stand when questioned, between these two characteristics of this process, she was extremely unlikely to come out with a verdict that did not hold her financially liable for his loss of work.
And then, about that money. As most of us are aware, men do still make significantly more money than women and that is even more true in Hollywood than in most other professions. This means, had this entire situation happened in reverse, and he had published a vague article about his experience without mentioning her and she lost roles because of it and sued him to recover those funds, even if she had been awarded what she asked for, it would likely equate to about 10% or what he was awarded, based on their ages, relative status in the industry and income level. The cost to a man will always be much higher precisely because of the existing inequality in the system that causes the pay inequity over time between the sexes. Men just have more to lose because their time/effort/art has historically been more highly valued in the system they created, and they created all the systems.
Similarly, it became clear that there was some coordinated campaign that had been “engaged” in social media to support “his side” of the story. A vast majority of all internet content generated about this spectacle (I know I’m using this word a lot, but I am literally without any others to describe WTF this was) was created with a patriarchal, misogynistic and even tending toward violently abusive lens. Now again, with all this content being fed directly into the minds of the members on the jury, and with the known potential for being outed, doxxed and possible even subject to threats and violence themselves, who in their right minds would have decided any other way? This verdict was manufactured by the worst of the internet rather than being conjured by this jury themselves.
Now enough with the proceeding itself; I would like to speak about the aftermath, because this is the most important part, the part in which WE ALL play a role and get to decide what and how things roll out in the future. I will tell you that, regardless of who or how this proceeding came about, who the parties are and what the jury verdict was, the mere existence of the SPECTACLE is currently being used by the right-wing, patriarchal, misogynistic troll army, worldwide to “destigmatise” and “legitimize” men’s rights to “the truth” in interpersonal domestic violence conflicts. It is so fucking important to get this context, and I haven’t seen nearly enough coverage of this yet.
What I have seen is individual men telling their stories of being sexually harassed in the workplace and other tales. They will say they feel free to tell their stories now, that they didn’t think they would be believed before because this sort of thing didn’t happen to men, or at least wasn’t supposed to. As a systems analyst and a person who almost universally feels more empathy for and with humankind than for and with individual humans, I get it. I have a bias. While I try to express my sorrow and regret for these individuals’ bad experiences, I cannot stand by and see them and their stories also being used and exploited for bad ends, which is exactly what is happening.
I do not know if men are just generally incapable of seeing this sort of “bigger picture” pulling together from different disciplines to draw connections, while also stepping outside of their own perspective, outside of the ego force that continually whispers ‘look out for #1,’ but it is being lost of a HUGE SWATH of men who I would otherwise consider pretty well-rounded and not at all affiliated with the “men’s rights” movement. They are playing right into the hands of those who create the systems and the conditions to funnel ALL available power and money up the hierarchy so that they will always win, whether they tell their story in an adversarial way or not.
Here it is, though, the REAL big picture. Whether or not you believe in the white-supremacist patriarchy, it exists and you play a role in it. Either you accept the system of power as it is, understand and accept your role in it, your status, or you work to dismantle it to replace it with a more true version of an actual merit-based system, predicated not ONLY on money, but also on contributions of time and energy to society. If you are a man AND you feel left out by not being able to claim you were harassed by a woman you work with who asked you on a date or happened to grab your butt one time, you don’t get to tell that story. I’m going to tell you, it’s in bad taste, because women don’t even share things that are SO MINOR! I don’t doubt you have feelings about it, but those feelings are feelings of entitlement to victimhood and are being conjured by people who seek to destroy democracy. Don’t believe me? Just watch a rally where our former proto-fascist “president” talks about anything. Literally anything. He speaks in a very specific way that is intended to have an emotional effect on those who are willing to listen “with an open mind.” This is all by design.
I believe many women, especially non-white women, as well as LGBTQIA+ folks understand all of this intuitively. White cisgender heterosexual men, and men more broadly, do not seem to see this phenomenon. As an individual, you have experiences, but those experiences either align with the direction of change to existing power structures and world order, further entrenching the status quo hierarchy OR they align with forces that are nascent, just rising, being fostered and nurtured and cared for by the historically oppressed for the greater good of the least among us. If the existing hierarchy is damaged, brought down a notch over time, this will have little effect on those who already exist at the top of the totem pole; it’s like the difference between being 30′ in the air vs being 29′ 6″ in the air. Moving up off the ground to 6″ matters a whole lot more. This is what is happening with our current power structure.
There are now a number of civil lawsuits being filed by men who have been report to be “victimized” by #metoo, directed at those women who have come out and told their side of the story. In almost every case, financial damages are cited and in almost every case, the woman in question has NEVER made even nearly the amount on money in their careers as the man in question. The men do not need this money. These lawsuits are springing up out of the desire for retribution and punishment for women who speak up and share their side of their stories.
Now women know what to do here. Many of us will shut the fuck up, go back to tolerating shit we have no business tolerating, and possibly even returning violence with violence, which will lead to more women in prison, more children (also victims of abuse) traumatized and parentless, more poverty and fewer economic options. All for what? So men can still feel dominant over something? I hope this helps you sleep at night, especially those of you supposedly “woke” men who don’t like to think of yourself as sexist (or racist). You can tell your story, which only signals to others that THE TINIEST slight of impropriety inflicted on you should now be cause for legal action because men can be victims too.
Also, these men can’t see what they are doing in context. And when someone else points out this context and shows what can (and will) happen as a result, over time, that you directly contributed to by “telling your story” in a public way, you say you don’t believe them. It’s past time to believe them, believe us, BELIEVE ME! There are larger forces at play here and you are capable of having bad feelings about your experience without making it anyone else’s problem. We are not obligated to reward your sharing with sympathy. We have been putting up with worse shit for centuries. Get over yourself.
Whew. I feel better, at least a little bit. That was cathartic. And, while this post will probably get mobbed by all the men’s rights weirdos and the narcissistic trolls who find it, all I will say in closing is THINK about the downstream effects your words will have on others. If you are going to signal something to someone, think about what you’re doing and be aware. This is not rocket science. You are a pebble dropped in a pond and you have a choice about what words get spread, what actions are taken and whether you are going with or against the flow. If you want to be one of those who support women, LGBTQIA+, and other “others,” to flip the script and make the world a more equitable place, you must push, and sometimes that means you STFU.
That is all.