Opinion: #MeToo Isn’t Totally Inclusive

This is an opinion piece, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of Her Campus or Her Campus UFL.

The title of this article may be shocking to optimistic and fervent supporters of the #MeToo movement. The movement is meant to empower people who have been sexually assaulted, but that isn’t available to all because of the overlooked exclusivity. It’s supposed to help support those that have come out with their stories before the dawn of #MeToo and after. Trust me, this was hard for me to write because I wish it wasn’t true. The sad part is that it is, and people tend to brush it aside in order to make the movement look flawless.

Now someone just looking on the surface of the movement won’t see this problem because the exclusivity is ingrained into it. This exclusivity causes people to not get the validation they deserve when talking about their trauma and lose the strength to continue fighting. The people that are cognizant of it are the people that are affected by it: sex workers and trans people.

Sex workers? Yes, sex workers. Erasure of sex workers’ stories has been happening for a while, even before #MeToo.

The argument commonly used against sex workers is that they chose that profession, which is really ignorant. The advocates of the #MeToo movement that support this argument are SWERFs (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist). The idea behind this argument SWERFs use is that sex workers knew what they were getting into, but they chose to relinquish their privilege.

That reasoning is so…ugh. People in other professions knew what they were getting into by working with other humans, why aren’t they being discriminated against? Other people in other professions deserve to feel safe and respected at their job, why aren’t sex workers treated the same? It doesn’t matter what someone does in their profession, they should be treated with the same respect no matter what.

Another illogical reason why this discrimination is perpetuated is because some people believe that sex workers deserve to be sexually abused. Nobody ever deserves to be sexually abused. Some might say it’s consensual non-consent because of their profession, but there needs to be consent from both parties! Would you think a musician should be sexually assaulted for writing a song about sex? The same reasoning has to be applied to this argument.

An example of how a sex worker came out with his story was Tegan Zayne, a gay adult film star, who told his #MeToo story through a series of tweets on January 21 this year. He was raped by a person he was going to shoot a scene with the next day, Topher DiMaggio, in the living quarters they were temporarily sharing. Zayne told producers about what happened, but the shoot still went on, and his experience was invalidated. People even had the nerve to say that he probably liked it and he was shamed into staying silent about his experience.

Sometimes people choose to be a sex worker because that the only option they have, other time they choose to be one because they love the profession. No matter what—their experiences are valid.

Earlier, I said trans people were also affected. Like SWERFs, there is a type of feminist called a TERF, which stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.”

A recent example that highlights TERFism in this movement was on January 31st, Rose McGowan was at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan making an appearance for her new memoir, Brave. During her presentation, Andi Dier called out McGowan about transphobic comments she made during an interview with RuPaul. Dier, a trans woman herself, said McGowan’s comments about how trans women are not like regular women invalidates the acts of violence that happen towards trans women every day. However, Dier was escorted away after verbally fighting with McGowan. In the aftermath, McGowan tried making comebacks, but most of what she said just screamed cis centered feminism.

McGowan is a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, but that event is an example of trans erasure in the #MeToo movement. Like sex workers, trans women’s experiences are invalidated because “they knew what they were getting into” by identifying as a woman.

There are many people that reject some #MeToo stories because the owner isn’t feminine enough. Femininity and womanliness are the unspoken main adjectives being used to describe the movement. This causes discourse for anyone that doesn’t identify with the binary.

Furthermore, validation of stories is also based on objectification of victims. Some stories aren’t believed because the victim “isn’t good enough” to be attacked. It brings up a similar air of how the victim’s clothes caused them to be attacked. If a person doesn’t conform with the general idea of femininity, does that make their story invalid? The answer is no.

The public doesn’t give attention to stories of non-cis women talking about sexual assault as much as the opposite. Laverne Cox told her #MeToo story, did it receive as much public attention as others? No, not really. Cis feminism is the center of this movement, and I, as a cis-woman, wish it wasn’t so.

Genitals do not equal gender, but some are using this ideology to invalidate others. This is holding the movement back because it’s excluding many, which is the opposite of its purpose. While it has done great things, I wish it could do more to make the world better for all.