This afternoon, at about three PM, I took my first real break from #MooreandMe that didn’t involve sleeping. You may or may not know this, but I have been going, on Twitter and Tiger Beatdown and Tumblr and in e-mail and sometimes for Salon, basically without stopping or doing literally anything else, like: skipping most meals and deciding hummus and chips constitute “meals,” like: not taking the time off to shower, since this thing started. I would have kept going today, too, when I went out with my boyfriend to a cheap brunch place not far away from our apartment — I brought my phone so that I could keep checking the #MooreandMe Twitter feed, and tweeting, and re-tweeting — but the phone had apparently died, and I didn’t want to be rude and demand that my boyfriend let me use his iPhone. So there I was, for the first time in four days, not directly involved in the #MooreandMe protest.
And that’s the point when I finally got around to crying.
I hadn’t meant to. I hadn’t known that I needed to, didn’t realize it was going to happen until I had already started sobbing in public. I was just telling my boyfriend that I was really tired, that maybe going to bed at 5:30 AM and waking up at 1 PM hadn’t been a good idea, that I had worn myself down, that the Christmas party at his friend Natasha’s that he was looking up recipes for on his iPhone might be — like literally every other social plan I had this week — something I needed to cancel. That I didn’t know how much longer I could keep protesting. That it had been four days.
“Four days,” I said, “and yesterday the trolls kicked into high gear. I mean, I could handle it when they were just calling me a whore and posting the accusers’ names in the comments. I could just delete those. But now they’re creating Twitter accounts, posting rape threats, and tagging them #MooreandMe so that the feed is unsafe for women or rape victims to look at. And posting the accusers’ names, over and over, because one of the things we’re objecting to is that posting the accusers’ names is subjecting them to massive invasion of privacy, you can find their names and home addresses online, and that might get them hurt or even, like, raped, it might get them fucking raped, by some fucked-up dangerous Assange fans, it might make it possible for rapists to find them and rape them to punish them for this. And they’re tagging THAT #MooreandMe, so they can use the protest to endanger the accusers even more, so that the protest will become unsafe for the accusers thanks to the trolls and we’ll stop it. And threatening to hack my PayPal, and threatening to hack Tiger Beatdown. And everyone saying that we believe shit we don’t believe, and yelling and calling me names and calling all of us names, and I always get yelled at and called names, but this is like… the volume is so high. Every time I look away there are twenty new comments and most of them are calling me a cunt or telling me to make them a sandwich or calling me a whore or naming the accusers or calling all of us whores for protesting. Like this nice middle-aged lady left this really sweet, confused, kinda angry Tweet about how Keith Olbermann was so nice and why was I doing this to him, and she looked so middle-aged and nice and Midwestern in this way that reminded me of my Mom, who’s a huge Moore fan, so I responded to her. I said, like, ‘Keith Olbermann might be nice, but he did a bad thing and he didn’t apologize.’ I said it the way I’d say it to my Mom. And she just called me a sleaze bag and called me names some more. My Mom brags about every article I publish online, but she didn’t acknowledge the Olbermann one or #MooreandMe, and I think I’m kind of in a fight with my Mom right now. And it’s not just about this, but also, I think it’s kind of about this. And I just, it’s four days now. Four days of this. Up at four in the morning looking for rape crisis centers that are trans-friendly so I can post links. Four days of this, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep going.”
I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but this is how I remember it. It started out as just talking and turned into a speech. People started staring.
“So maybe you should just take a break,” my boyfriend said.
“I CAN’T JUST TAKE A BREAK,” I said, and that’s the first point at which I raised my voice. “I CAN’T TAKE A BREAK, EVER. These people fucking need me. It’s Twitter: If it doesn’t keep happening every five minutes, it stops showing up in people’s feeds, and they forget about it. It just goes away. I have to keep doing it so that it doesn’t just disappear.”
“Because they want it to disappear,” I said. “That’s what they’re counting on. It’s been four days, they’re counting on the fact that the Internet has a short attention span and a bad memory, they’re counting on the fact that the trolls are going to scare us or make us feel so terrible that we can’t keep going, they’re counting on the fact that they can just let everybody harass us until we can’t keep going just for the sake of our own emotional and physical health, and they can just not respond, they can just have a nice weekend, while we keep fighting until we’ve been threatened and called whores and been scared for our safety or the safety of others enough, and then we’ll disappear and they can keep pretending that this isn’t happening, they can just keep pretending that it never happened.”
“AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHY WOMEN DROP RAPE CHARGES TOO,” I said. I remember this part very clearly because I was, in fact, yelling.
And at this point, the speech goes long. And I’ll just paraphrase what I said, really, and not use the quote marks. But this is, in fact, what I said, as far as I can remember it, more or less. What I said, after “THAT’S EXACTLY WHY WOMEN DROP RAPE CHARGES,” very loudly and slapping the table, was this:
That’s EXACTLY WHY Michael Moore tweeting the UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIM that an Assange accuser had fucking CIA TIES, in an article that NAMED HER, re-tweeting it from KEITH OLBERMANN, retweeting it not just to the hundred thousand people that follow Keith Olbermann but to the over seven hundred thousand people that follow him, GIVING THAT WOMAN’S NAME AND SAYING UNPROVEN DEROGATORY SHIT ABOUT HER to ALMOST A MILLION PEOPLE, that’s why it’s BAD. That’s why you never do it, no matter what the case in question is, no matter who the accused is, no matter whether Julian Assange is guilty or not. You never do it, EVER, because it happens over and over to every woman who reports that a celebrity raped her, to women who just report that high-profile members of their own communities raped them, even in fucking so-called ‘progressive’ communities, they just get harassed and smeared and threatened and their accusers’ friends make life unsafe for them, and the people who support their accusers make life unsafe for them, the fucking AUTHORITIES and JOURNALISTS, they REPORT THIS SHIT and they MAKE LIFE UNSAFE FOR THEM, and they eventually get so scared, so scared for their own goddamned safety, so scared that they might get raped again or killed, so beaten-down emotionally from everyone in the world calling them sluts and whores and bitches and liars, it happens to women who have actually been raped, they just get so scared and so fucking beaten-down and so tired that they literally cannot cope, and this is happening when they’ve already JUST BEEN FUCKING RAPED, they’re already dealing with one of the WORST THINGS that can ever happen to a human being, one of the most traumatizing things, shit that gives people life-long PTSD, it has just happened to them, and it is fresh, and the world hates them, the world is spreading hatred toward them, they have fans and supporters and celebrities and journalists telling everybody that they’re evil lying whore sluts, no matter what they say, they wanted it, because they’re stupid fucking lying evil CIA bitches and you should hate them. You should hate them because they say they’ve been raped.
That’s why Ben Roethlisberger walks free today. His accuser eventually refused to go forward, and her lawyer’s letter said that it wasn’t because the accuser hadn’t been raped, she still maintained that had actually happened to her and he had done it, it was because pursuing the case, no matter whether she got a conviction or not, would be so dangerous and so traumatic for her that it just wouldn’t be worth it.
[I didn’t say it at the time, but look at the letter. Because it was also, directly, because of the media:
What is obvious in looking forward is that a criminal trial would be a very intrusive personal experience for complainant in this situation, given the extraordinary media attention that would be inevitable. The media coverage to date, and the efforts of the media to access our client, have been unnerving, to say the least.
Tell me again how Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore aren’t responsible for any of the consequences of leaking that woman’s name. Of telling people she had CIA ties, using a Holocaust denier’s words to do so. Tell me again why they shouldn’t apologize for that: I mean, tell me just one more time.]
She tried to get out of the case because she just couldn’t handle the goddamned trauma of taking the man she said had raped her to court. Reporting a rape and pushing it through the system, for a woman, can be more dangerous and more traumatic and more horrible to experience, for a woman, than being raped. It’s why Roman Polanski’s victim said she wouldn’t co-operate if his case started up again: She’d been bullied too much, it was too much for her to handle. And if you want to talk about the fucking media, when the news got out that Roethlisberger was being accused of rape, ESPN issued a ‘do not report’ order. They TOLD PEOPLE NOT TO REPORT IT, because he was a star, because they had to protect their access to sources. When Isaac Brock was accused of rape, the reports on the accusations were disappeared from the paper in which they appeared, the reporter herself stopped getting published in that paper, right after she reported that a well-known, well-liked celebrity in Seattle was being accused of rape. This happens, this happens OVER and OVER and OVER again, EVERY TIME. It’s not about Julian Assange. He isn’t a special exception. The way this case has been treated is not even unusual. This happens EVERY TIME a woman reports to the police that a man with a lot of fans and a lot of people in his corner has raped her. EVERY FUCKING TIME. They bully her, the people in charge bully her, his fans bully her, the media bullies her, until she agrees to fucking go away, so people can keep pretending that it never happened. So that it can disappear. So that women just agree to SHUT UP and MAKE IT EASIER FOR PEOPLE TO RAPE US AND GET AWAY WITH IT. And now very few people, very few Modest Mouse fans, even know that the guy from Modest Mouse was accused of rape in the first place. And I know people who were there at the time, who were involved with the Seattle indie community, because it was small and really tight-knit, everybody knew everybody, and they all say that if you looked at the situation, if you looked at who was having drinks with Isaac Brock and hanging out at the same bars, and who was making decisions about what stories were newsworthy enough to run in that goddamned paper and which reporters to publish there, there was some substantial fucking overlap. Like, it did not look good.
And now I’m being accused of working for the CIA. Also on no fucking evidence, as it turns out. I’m being called names, and screamed at by hundreds of people every day, I’m being harassed, I’m being threatened, I’m scared for my physical safety to the point that I’m looking up dudes and seeing exactly what ‘stalking’ consists of in case I have to press charges, I’m being emotionally and physically exhausted to the point that I doubt whether I can keep going, I’m being treated by Michael Moore like I don’t exist. He’s refusing to acknowledge that the #MooreandMe tag even fucking exists. Every protester is being treated like they don’t exist, so that later they can act like this never happened, so that we’ll disappear. And I know that I’m a small fish. I’m just a protester. We’re just protesters. I know that whatever those two women in the Assange case are going through, it has to be SO MUCH FUCKING WORSE. And it has to have been going on for SO MUCH LONGER.
And it’s not in question, what Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann did. They spread false information that minimized, dismissed, and misrepresented those allegations. They spread an article that was intended to damage a rape accuser’s reputation, on little to no evidence, and that named her. You can look up the false information they spread online. There are videos, there are Tweets, you can Google it, everyone knows it happened. Everyone knows they failed to tell the truth. Everyone knows they smeared the accuser. Everyone knows they gave the name of the accuser out, to hundreds and thousands of goddamned people. It’s not a subject of debate. They did it. They did it obviously, and publicly, and on the record. Everyone knows that happened. The only thing people are debating is whether it was wrong.
EVERYONE KNOWS THAT TWO PEOPLE WHOSE JOBS ARE TO TELL THE TRUTH, DID NOT TELL THE TRUTH, AND WE ARE DEBATING WHETHER THAT IS WRONG. EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT TWO PEOPLE SMEARED A WOMAN ON LITTLE TO NO EVIDENCE AND ENDANGERED HER LIFE, AND WE ARE DEBATING WHETHER THAT IS WRONG. Because it’s about rape, so clearly there might be some way to justify it. Because rape victims don’t matter, their safety, their reputations, their lives, their rapes, they don’t matter to most people. We don’t matter to most people. We don’t matter, we don’t matter. We, us, sexual assault victims, we don’t matter to Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann, we don’t matter to their fans, we don’t matter to the “progressive community,” we don’t matter to the world at large, not as much as this one guy from WikiLeaks, not as much as the guy who directed Chinatown, not as much as Ben Roethlisberger, not as much as Isaac Brock. We don’t matter. We don’t matter. We don’t.
This, for the record, would be when I started to cry.
And now Moore is telling people that WikiLeaks intentionally gave false information to the Guardian, which coincidentally is one of the only and first papers reporting the accusations against Assange that Moore lied about in full, and that the Guardian repeated the false information WikiLeaks knowingly gave them. Moore is reporting that shit like it’s a victory, like it proves something about the Guardian, which is clearly another step in the campaign to get people to ignore these allegations and the Guardian because it’s reporting them, and all it actually proves is that if you establish yourself as a credible source — if you’re Michael Moore, if you’re Keith Olbermann, if you’re WikiLeaks — and you give false information, intentionally or not, to the media or the world, people will believe you, and you will make the truth harder to know. All it proves is what #MooreandMe is fucking SAYING, which is that DISSEMINATING FALSE INFORMATION TO THE MEDIA CAUSES REAL DAMAGE to the people who rely on the media to tell them the truth. THAT GIVING FALSE INFORMATION MAKES PEOPLE BELIEVE FALSEHOODS. THAT LYING IS WRONG.
Michael Moore is being protested because it looks like he told a huge, damaging lie to the media, and he’s on his blogs crowing about how he fooled the media by getting his friends to tell them a lie. THAT’S how much he fucking cares about “the truth.” THAT is EXACTLY how much Michael Moore fucking cares about “freedom of information.” Freedom of information. Fuck you, liar. Fuck you.
And they’re just counting on people to go away. They’re counting on this, they’re counting on us to fucking break down and agree to go away and make it easier for the media and the world to bully rape victims — not some victims, not these specific women making these specific allegations, but all the victims before and all the ones after who report and all the ones who see shit like this happen and get too scared to even report, who get too scared to tell their friends because of what people might do to them — they’re counting on the fact that, after four days, we’re all exhausted and some of us are scared for our safety, and it’s just Twitter, so if Michael Moore pretends #MooreandMe isn’t happening for long enough, then it will stop happening. And one more true, widely available, widely known thing about this case and the reporting on it will be forgotten, will disappear, will have been effectively hidden by Michael Moore.
I WILL NOT GO AWAY. WE WILL NOT GO AWAY. Because all of those women, all of those GODDAMNED WOMEN, all of those GODDAMNED RAPE VICTIMS and people who file rape allegations, they ALL got scared away in EXACTLY THIS MANNER. Using these SAME GODDAMNED TACTICS. They all had to go away, no matter what happened to them, they all just got scared until they went away, and for them, for their sake, because of everything they suffered, I am going to stand outside of Michael Moore’s tower with my megaphone until he comes. Somebody has to stand out here, somebody has to be the one that just won’t go away. Somebody fucking has to do it. Because those women matter.
And I didn’t say it at the time, but I’ll say it now:
The first friend I knew who was raped and didn’t report it, who woke up with her boyfriend raping her and told him to stop and he wouldn’t, who I sat with on the anniversary of her rape for years and watched her break down sobbing and shaking, who didn’t report it because he was her boyfriend, Miss J: You matter. The friend I knew who had one drink and woke up bruised and sore with her clothes off, realized she’d been raped that way and that she didn’t know who had done it and so she couldn’t report it, Miss R: You matter. The second girl I met with the same story, waking up injured and naked in a bed, but who did know who had done it, knew the bed, knew it was that creepy guy she was scared of, and didn’t report it, Miss E: You matter. The girl who told me that when she’d been raped she hadn’t even known she could report to the police, she had just thought of it as “that time a guy forced her to have sex even though she didn’t want to,” and didn’t report it because of that, Miss K: You matter. The girl who went out on a date with a guy she’d met on the Internet, didn’t come back that night, told me the next day that “if it happened to anyone else she would call it rape,” and then explained what had happened, and guess what, it was unambiguously forceful coercion into sex, i.e. rape, and she was not the world’s only woman who did not have the right to say “no” and expect a guy to stop having sex with her, and who didn’t report it because she didn’t believe on some level that she was good enough to expect that a guy wouldn’t rape her, Miss K the second: You matter. The girl who told me she didn’t realize it was rape if you told the guy to stop and he still kept forcing sex on you, but she guessed she’d had kind of a nervous breakdown after, like she couldn’t stop crying and she thought about hurting herself and she’d had to go on medication and now she was really suspecting it was because she told him to stop having sex with her and he didn’t, because he raped her, who didn’t report because she didn’t know it was considered rape, Miss G: You matter. The girl who was a friend of my boyfriend’s, who always kind of intimidated me because she was so strong and so together and you basically couldn’t imagine her ever losing an argument, who took me aside at a party one night and told me she was having trouble dealing with her rape, her husband told her I wrote a blog about this stuff and she just wanted to talk to me, she didn’t report because she knew no-one would believe her, Miss L: You matter. Miss M, you matter. Miss C, you matter. Every woman who writes about her assault online: You matter. The survivors e-mailing me, the survivors sending their stories to Michael Moore on Twitter, all of you: You matter. The woman who reported that Isaac Brock had raped her: You matter. The woman who was raped by Roman Polanski, age 13: You matter. The woman who reported that Ben Roethlisberger had raped her, who later had to back down and go away because she was just so scared, because the media valued her safety and health so very little and it scared her: You matter, baby, you matter, you matter so much. Miss A, Miss W, you matter whether Assange is guilty or not, because it is not permissible for the media to bully you in order to discredit your case, because you just plain matter. You matter because the right of a woman to make a rape allegation and not expect that she will be harassed, hurt, smeared, bullied, that matters.
You all matter to me. I don’t care if they say you don’t matter. I don’t care if they act like you don’t matter. I don’t care what they do to us, to all of us, all of the shit they do to make it possible to discredit and bully us and make us too scared to report, all of the misinformation they spread — it’s not rape if it started out consensual, it’s not rape if it happened while you were unconscious, it’s not rape if you’ve had sex with him before, it’s not rape if you hang out with the guy later, it’s not rape if you love him, it’s not rape if you like him, it’s not rape if it happens to you because you’re worthless, these are all lies — because it doesn’t change the fact that you matter.
I am standing out here until Michael Moore comes down. I don’t care if I’m the only one doing it — though I hope you join me — I don’t care how long it takes, I don’t care what they do to me, I don’t care what they say to me, I don’t care what they say about me, I don’t care if I’m in danger, I don’t care if you don’t like it, I don’t care who it pisses off, I don’t care if it pisses my friends or my mother off, #MooreandMe is not going away until Michael Moore responds to us directly and with a full apology and with support for anti-rape organizations, it is not going away as long as I have breath in me. If you close my Twitter account, I’ll post from a friend’s, if you shut down my website I’ll do guest posts at another feminist website, if you ruin my career and make it impossible for me to pay my bills I’ll couch surf, I’ll sleep at the house of a friend that has Internet and do it from there, if you set fire to my computer or shut off my Internet I’ll go to an Internet cafe and I will keep going. How long did Michael Moore stand outside of Roger’s office? A couple hours, maybe? A day? It’s been four days now. That shit is unconscionable. It is unacceptable. And it can go on for as long as he wants it to go on, because we’re not stopping. We’re not backing down. We’re not disappearing. Because they scared and bullied and threatened and shamed and lied to and lied about and disappeared all of those women, all of those women who were scared enough to go away or too scared to report in the first place, they all went away, and somebody has to not go away. We have to not go away. Engage in #MooreandMe to the extent that you can, the extent that you are capable of while still feeling safe and healthy, but me? I’m taking “safety” and “health” off the table, as personal requirements, right now. No matter what they do to me, no matter how long Michael Moore ignores me, I am still going to be here outside the tower. At this point, if you want to fucking stop me from demanding that apology, you will have to get a gun and literally shoot me down. And if I survive that, I’m Tweeting from the hospital.
No, it’s not “about me:” If it were about me, I would have stopped around the time of the first public crying fit, if not before. If it were about me, I would be acting in my own best interests right now. It’s about me only to the extent that I started it, and now I have to see it through to the end. Because all of those women went away. Somebody has to not go away. I started this, so I guess that person is me.
And yes, donate. We’ve received reports that RAINN partners with organizations that deny services to trans women who’ve been raped, so because trans women, YOU MATTER, we’re looking for other places to donate to. Callen-Lorde and the Survivor Project, which provides education about trans rape survivor issues, have both been recommended, and you can look for local organizations in your area pretty easily with Google, and there’s a Wikipedia page for organizations (although I don’t know all of the trans politics or other politics of the people listed), and as I see people post names of local orgs they’ve donated to on Twitter, I’ll retweet them. So donate, and donate as much as you can.
But me, I’m also just going to keep standing out here. I’m really sorry I didn’t make it to your party tonight, Natasha. I wanted to see you. I feel crappy and I would really love to see some friendly people right now. But I’ve got work to do.