on weinstein

Originally posted on Facebook on February 25, 2020 (unedited from original post)

hi i have thoughts about the weinstein verdict

because it’s a very good thing that a predator who operated with almost total impunity was disempowered. that someone with such resources and position faced consequences is really important and all too rare, and for someone with his extreme wealth and power, a legal verdict might be the only legitimate kind of accountability.

but legal verdicts and the punitive justice that accompanies them can’t be our only answer to sexual violence (or violence of any kind), and it can’t be the only answer that we understand or celebrate as accountable. because such verdicts are delivered unevenly and because punitive justice doesn’t actually restore anything of meaning and because our adversarial legal system offers so very little protection to those who *do* report that the process can be even worse than the assault itself and yes, i am speaking from experience.

i was nineteen. he was a family member. i didn’t want to report but people said i had to so i did. for months his lawyer sent letters threatening to expose my fraud, my lies, my secret manipulations; every time the phone rang i was filled with panic about who might be on the line and despite my insistent non-cooperation the prosecutors kept pressing (jeb bush was up for re-election and being tough on sexual and domestic assault would win him women voters, you see) and his lawyer kept sending letters and i was utterly unmoored, caught in the middle of a storm that i only ever wanted to go away but that everyone around me seemed to think i had summoned, as if i’d ever had such power.

it’s easy to point to the women who pressed charges against weinstein and call them heroes but that creates a false binary, as if standing up against sexual violence requires some kind of superhuman capacity that so very few of us can ever possess. i have not made many brave choices in my life but if i’m making more courageous ones now it’s only because i’ve found more safety than i used to know and creating that kind of safety is an obligation for all of us, no matter how defiantly unheroic we may be, because ending the culture of sexual violence means teaching enthusiastic consent and empowering bodily autonomy and it also means breaking down the shame and self-blame that so many women and femmes (and some men/mascs too) carry with us; it means affirming that our ptsd is not brokenness and it means an allyship that is rooted and lasting, that does more than offer a life-preserver in a tempest but that travels with us all the way to the shore. it means caring, not as an affect but as an action, building relationships of reciprocal care and interdependence and resilience, holding each other psychically and physically, re-engaging in all the literal labors of love that we are all too eager to outsource to technology and underpaid contract workers.

it means refusing to shrink from our own hurts and refusing to shrink from the hurts of others and resisting the tempting comforts of alienation and isolation, because alienation and isolation are where shame thrives and accountability can never take hold, and without accountability — real accountability — the entire project of a just future is lost; without accountability we abdicate any possibility for restorative justice and supportive community and we give space instead to criminalization and incarceration and institutions of punishment, encroaching ever-further into all the vulnerable places we’re afraid to go.

it means fucking up and coming back anyway, because what other choice do we have?

how we show up for each other is how we show up in the world; the relationships that we build with each other are the world that we build for one another.

let’s build something fearless, together.

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