Guess one of my least favourite words? That’s right. It’s ‘retrospective’.
The word itself implies some regretful feelings. ‘If only I did this’, ‘if only I hadn’t done that’ and yada yada yada. As Celine Dion said, ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is good to look back on the past, especially when there are fond memories or educational moments. But sometimes, and especially nowadays, the idea of being retrospective is used to encourage blame and feelings of stupidity, especially with sexual assault.
I’m a huge fan of the ‘metoo’ movement – there I said it. It was a movement that was definitely overdue. Hollywood, by its very nature, has always been predatory towards impressionable people, particularly young, aspiring actresses. And no matter the number of ‘meninists’ that came out of the woodwork to mock that movement, I stood by it. My heart broke when Bill Cosby was moved from the hall of fame to the hall of shame, but I stood by his accusers. After all, there is nothing worse than shutting up a victim who’s been through a lot already.
And for a while, I was happy about the progress this movement seemed to be making. Until Brett Kavanaugh was chosen by Trump to sit in the SCOTUS, and Christine Blasey Ford came out with her allegations.
Now, the whole thing was messy and already horrific (Mrs Ford’s statement was very heartbreaking), but the POTUS decided to add salt to injury with his ‘sceptical’ tweets. Which, of course, has now given birth to the ‘WhyIDidn’tReport’ movement. And honestly, there is no better response to Trump’s stupidity than the raw, painful tweets in the new movement.
Yes, I believe that there is some truth to Mrs Ford’s allegations, but we should also look at Trump’s obvious statement on the matter. In a country where 77% of sexual assault cases aren’t reported, and a world where 120 million women have experienced non-consensual sex, having a ‘world leader’ declare such sceptic views is very dangerous. It’s one thing when your parents tell you to shut up about the daily abuse you go through, or when the police officer tells you that you deserved it because of the clothes you wore. To have the President of a country ask ‘why didn’t she report it back then?’ is extremely damning to most survivors. It’s saying ‘how could you be so silly not to have said anything then?’ It means that Trump and his fellow sceptics ignore that fact that survivors may have been threatened, or may have actually reported the crime, but, just like Trump, no one believed them.
What then happens is that we start to retrospect. We start looking back on a time in our lives that we would rather not look back on. And this can be very risky for survivors because the trauma may just come back. And all the therapy, all the progress we’ve made so far starts to feel useless. Because the self-blame comes back again. ‘I shouldn’t have gone to that party’, ‘I shouldn’t have walked home alone’, ‘I should have said something’, and on and on it goes.
And to Trump, I say this – you’ll never understand what it means to be Christine Blasey, Rose McGowan or any other survivor out there. You won’t understand what it means to be watchful everytime you walk out the door. So stay away from sensitive issues, and stay away from Twitter while you’re at it.