COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IS A HELL of a drug. It smothers the senses of societies that claim to despise sexual predators and yet keeps giving them awards and electing them to office. Right now, all over the world, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein accusations, women and girls are coming together in stunning numbers to finally name the men who have been hurting and humiliating them for so long. Resistance to rape culture is going viral. And polite society is expressing a certain amount of skepticism.
Could this really have been happening to so many women and girls? Why didn’t they speak out before?
Unfortunately, this isn’t history being rewritten. It is history being reread and read aloud so that all the ugly, uncomfortable stories in the margins can finally come out. This is not a trend, or an overreaction. This is a rebellion.
Rebellions involve risk and defiance. It takes fantastic courage to name your abuser. Naming your abuser is an act of defiance. It means overcoming every lesson you’ve ever internalized about what happens to women who make trouble. And there are always consequences for that defiance. If you stand up to your rapist, you risk being iced out of your industry, called a liar and a lunatic, and being shamed and humiliated in public and punished in private. That’s how structures of oppression work—by excusing almost everyone involved from acknowledging what’s happening. The reason that so many