1. I heard this episode of @ThisAmerLife, hosted by @chanajoffewalt, last week, and I've been thinking about it nonstop ever since. It captures something important about #metoo, which I shall attempt to articulate. Bear with me. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/640/five-women
2. Here's the thing about all these stories of men and their bad behavior. Thanks to centuries of socialization, we are acculturated to see the men as the protagonists in these stories. We think in terms of their story arcs -- rise, temptations, fall, and (maybe) redemption.
3. We think about their talent, all the work they've produced, so we ask, "gosh, are we going to let this one failure (er, series of failures) squander all that promise?" In these stories, women are bit parts, chapters, passing interactions that shape (or bring down) men.
4. We do this instinctively, subconsciously (yes, even women often do it; socialization affects us all). It takes some cognitive/emotional effort to step back and re-approach these stories through the female gaze, to see each woman as the protagonist of her own story.
5. Lots of smart analysts have made this point -- the women, their stories & their squandered promise, should be the focus of this discussion -- including great columns from @rtraister & @JessicaValenti (and probably others).
6. Lots of first-person accounts from women (and men!) have made the point as well. (I don't want to start listing them here because I'll leave too many out.) But something about the TAL episode really got to me.
7. It's about Don Hazen, founder and head of AlterNet, who was recently accused of numerous incidents of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment and stepped down. https://www.buzzfeed.com/coralewis/don-hazen?utm_term=.qy7aJAyA2k#.bc4gOxlx5n …
8. But it's not really *about* him. He's the connecting thread, but not the center of the story. Instead, five of the women with whom he interacted in various ways (including his wife) are foregrounded. Each tells her own story, in her own voice.
9. They don't just tell their Hazen stories, they talk about their experiences before him, the events that shaped their views of relationships and sexual dynamics, and the mark he left on their lives. Each one, in turn, takes over the role of protagonist.
10. It makes vivid the fact that the Hazen story is not about him, one life, but about the low-level damage he did to dozens of lives. He was a terrible chapter in THEIR stories, in some cases marring them permanently.
11. Not all of the damage he did was dramatic; not every life was ruined. But in every case, he left behind a new increment of self-doubt and regret, a story arc sent somewhat askew. None of the women in his wake were granted closure or redemption.
12. Listening to them tell their own stories -- Hazen was not the first or only manipulative man they had encountered -- made me think about how, for women, these little incidents just pile up, and pile up, and pile up, creating an extra weight they must lug everywhere.
13. If we valued women as individual human beings, autonomous and freestanding, with their own talents and stories, due the basic respect all humans are due -- not as caricatures & archetypes in men's heroic journeys -- we would see this accumulation ...
14. ... as an ancient and ongoing tragedy, an enormous squandering of human potential stretched out over generations and generations, still underway as we speak. We would be horrified.
15. That we still think of these stories as men's stories, think of men as the protagonists, worry over men's jobs and reputations, shows that we do not. We say we do, but we do not.
16. Anyway, a) if you haven't heard this episode of TAL, check it out, b) fuck Don Hazen and all those like him, c) ❤️✊. </fin> https://www.thisamericanlife.org/640/five-women
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