#NotMeToo

There isn’t a gay person on the planet that hasn’t been the target of some sort of abuse in their life. We all know that.

From that perspective, I can’t help but wonder what the current “#MeToo” fad is actually achieving, beyond providing some treasured sense of shared victimhood. Is there anything meaningfully positive that will result from this mass movement, or is it all just temporary background noise that will eventually fade leaving no trace? 

My suspicion, of course, is that is exactly what will happen. Nothing. Like all the trendy outpourings on social media, it doesn’t mean anything. It will achieve nothing. It is, really, just a pointless exercise in posturing, groupthink and fashion-following, waiting to be replaced by next week’s outrage / mourning / tragedy porn… 

I’m sure that the motives are good ones, but these things come along so frequently nowadays that they are like episodes of X Factor, and just as disposable. Primark empathy, one pointless hashtag at a time… 

#JeSuisCharlie #BlackLivesMatter #OrlandoStrong #Remain #StrongerTogether #LasVegasShooting #TrendingNow

It always feels great to be part of a “movement”, doesn’t it? That sense of belonging, of shared objectives and feelings. 

I felt the same when we all crowded into Old Compton Street after Orlando, or into Trafalgar Square after the Ian Baynham murder. We’re all together. Never again.

Of course, it’s never “never again”, is it? Nothing changes and that transient collectivism fades rapidly as other causes attract our attention. My feeling is that this is no different to any other modern day “cause”.

I’ve been wolf-whistled on the street. Is that sexual harassment? 

What about being chatted up by a drunk cougar in a bar when I didn’t want to be? 

How about having my bollocks grabbed by pissed members of a hen party in a gay pub? 

They’ve all happened to me. Everyone, of any and all genders, has had some sort of sexual harassment in their lives. So? Does that make us all victims? Does that make us all in some way worthy of applause and approbation? 

No, of course not. I just want to know what all this attention-seeking is going to achieve, because at the moment I can’t see that it’s achieving anything apart from jumping on the Weinstein bandwagon. “I’m a victim too, don’t forget me”

I refuse to be a victim. I am stronger than that. I have plenty of demons of my own and I will deal with them in my own way. 

What makes me more than a little contemptuous of this whole nouveau-victim movement is that it seems to stratify into a hierarchy of victimhood. “I’m more deserving of attention than you, get behind me.” People seem to be outdoing themselves to be worthy of sympathy (and more frequently these days, compensation) than everyone else. 

Professional victims is a phrase that I use quite frequently and it gets more accurate every day.
The other side of all this Hashtag Handwringing is the opportunity to wallow retrospectively. You see this all the time on anniversaries of events. 

The thing is, it’s almost never about those events, but always about those that are left. Hillsborough, 9/11, The Admiral Duncan, even Remembrance Sunday are more about those attending (in the latter case, usually including me) than anything else. A desire to be collectively associated with something seen as dignified and respectful in order to be seen in that reflection. 

It’s a perfectly normal human need, this desire for association, but it is still a little parasitic.

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About Paul Harper
These posts represent the collected thought of Paul Harper. Usually rants, occasionally lucid, always easily ignored. Read, don't read, your call!

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