— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) February 25, 2020
*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and cannot possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.
Also, adult language ahead!
“…in practice the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of women’s experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.” ~ Judith Lewis Herman
His hands are cuffed, as he shuffles slowly through a sea of faces—women whom he hurt, their families beside them.
No, he cannot be forced to feel the shame and pain he has dealt out.
But he can be held accountable for it.
A red “R” hangs from his neck—or, better yet, branded on his forehead for the world to see.
His coffers have been emptied to pay recompense to those whose bodies he used as a stepping ladder to reach the heights of his arrogance and entitlement.
The mighty thrown down, exposed—bared as his victims have been. That is what I want to see happen to Harvey Weinstein.
There is a brutal scene from the movie, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” where the main character, Lisbeth Salander, knocks out her rapist—her social case worker. He himself had previously knocked her out, tied her up, and sodomized her. He awakens to her tattooing, across his bloated belly—RAPIST—in squiggly, unskilled letters. She is a computer hacker, not a tattoo artist. He will forever bear the mark of what he did to her.
Does it make me inhuman to want to see violators forced to carry physical representations of the unspeakable damage that their toxic entitlement leaves on the psyches and bodies of those whom they abuse?
But I’m okay with it.
Compassion is not making excuses for vile acts of violation. Nor is it for hiding the privileged from the consequences of their actions behind their greasy lawyers and piles of money. Neither does it demand retribution—that’s me.
It’s me who wants to see abusers marked with the pain they cause. It’s me who wants to kick them in the balls—who wants to force a reality of equal distasteful proportion, to what they have done to others, upon them.
Yeah, that’s all me. My anger, my grief, my rage—mine.
Why do I want to see abusers met with their own medicine? Because I know what it is to wake up naked in a room—when I’d fallen asleep clothed in another. I know what it is for my experience to be gaslit away by a man who did not want to face the grief and horror of his own actions.
Why are you so upset, baby? Nothing happened. You wanted it.
Lines used to justify abuse. Given the damage of those lines, I gotta say, I kinda wanna cause some damage of my own.
I get that this is retribution, not justice. Sardonically, I know what justice means. I have been trying to live up to it my whole life. You don’t saddle a baby with a name like “Justice” and not have her come into the world with her hair aflame, and sword held high. But even with all my fiery virtues and Amazonian build, none of that protected me from sexual predators any more than those women’s hopes and dreams protected them from Harvey Weinstein.
So I take a deep breath and let the rage ripple through my neural network, down to my belly where I feel tight and hot—where passion boils and seeks an outlet.
Here is my outlet. I slow my fingers down enough to catch my feelings. Breathe. This is how to tend to an emotional trigger: be present in the body with the sensations that are mine.
No, I was not hurt by Weinstein—but I am a woman who has the same body parts as the women whom he violated. My empathy bone is vibrating a mile a minute—faster, even.
The victims of Weinstein, and other violators like him, experiences are not mine. Yet I relate. Too many women do, and from that rises the battle call, Me too.
This is the awful side of empathy—the dark side. I can slide into their skin. I can imagine how it would feel to enter a room, to meet with a man, who you possibly admired, who you thought was going to help you—only to be coerced, subdued, and violently assaulted. Weinstein abused his position as well as these women’s bodies. He violated their trust as well as their flesh.
Repair must be multi-layered as well.
Will financial remuneration return to a woman her sense of self-worth? No. But it will help to pay for her therapy. It will help to keep her survival needs met as she recuperates.
Will taking Weinstein off the streets and locking him up return to any one of these women the sense of security that he stole from her? No. But it will keep him from doing it again, and it will send a message:
No fucking more.
No more fucking us without our consent.
No more making our holy temples your sex dolls.
No more abusing your power and position.
You can’t get away with it anymore.
Stop looking at us like we’re your goddamn dessert.
Stop treating us like toys to be enjoyed and then tossed away.
There’s nowhere to hide, not anymore.
We belong to each other, which means we need to care for each other. This means we need to look the abuser in the eye and say no. We will hold you accountable for your behaviors. That is compassion, beyond excuses and idiot compassion; that is how we tend to our humanity, by not turning a blind eye when people behave inhumanely.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~ Albert Einstein
Yes, what Al says, and actions that cause pain and trauma—creating prisons where there should be freedom, where there should be liberty—must be stopped.
And the people who perpetrate them—like Weinstein and those who walk in his shoes, using their privilege to trample others’ rights—should simply go to prison.