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#MooreandMe: And Then He Came Down

Last night, I did something I hadn’t done in a very long time. I took a long, hot bath. I just laid there, and I started to feel how tired I was, and I started to feel less tense. And then I got up, and I went to my bedroom, and I laid down next to my boyfriend and my dog Hektor, who will insistently not act like a dog and sleep in a doggie bed or at the foot of the bed, he demands respect, damn it, he absolutely must sleep directly between you and the other person with his face right in your face, and I fell instantly asleep. I wasn’t distracted by sadness or anger or despair or tension, I wasn’t feeling awful for the first time in a long time, and so, I let the dog find a comfortable space next to me (FACE RIGHT IN YOUR FACE, FACE RIGHT IN YOUR FAAAACE), and I had a good night’s sleep. For the first time in a week.

Because I could do that, sort of. Because we won one. I’ll tell you why I’m certain we won it, a little later — the evidence may surprise you — but you might know part of it. The part where, in the last, final push of #MooreandMe, we turned all our hope and support and need for genuinely progressive media that takes rape claims seriously and does not smear or enable harm to women who report rape on to Rachel Maddow, and asked her to end #MooreandMe. And she got on her show, and she said this:

The timing could not be more suspicious. The man accused says he’s being pursued for political reasons. But even if you’re suspicious about the timing, there are two women who went to the police with what are essentially date-rape charges against this guy.

This doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker.

Can your suspicion about the forces arrayed against Julian Assange and Wikileaks — your suspicion about the timing and pursuit of these charges — coexist with respect for the women making these accusations against him and with a commitment to take rape allegations seriously, even when the person accused is someone that for other reasons you like?

Yes. You undoubtedly can. We’ve all been doing it for well over a week; #MooreandMe was only the most evident and obvious and loud manifestation of that commitment. But can you get a beloved progressive media figure say it on TV? You couldn’t, before #MooreandMe. You simply couldn’t. Maddow hadn’t screwed up on this story before, it’s true. But last night, she said, with great seriousness, that respecting those women and taking those charges seriously was important. And when her team posted it, to @MaddowBlog and the Maddow Blog, they specifically credited #MooreandMe.

And then Michael Moore came on. And the first question Rachel Maddow asked him, the first one she asked him, was about this. That the story had “blown up in a lot of directions.” It had blown up, and had reached out to Rachel Maddow, in one specific direction, and I can’t for the life of me see why she wouldn’t mention us on-air, but, OK. She asked him; she mentioned us, if not by name. And that’s the point at which Michael Moore said this:

Every woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted or raped has to be, must be, taken seriously. Those charges have to be investigated to the fullest extent possible. For too long, and too many women have been abused in our society, because they were not listened to, and they just got shoved aside… The older people here remember how it used to be. It’s not that much better now, it got a little better, because of the women’s movement made that happen.

And no, Michael Moore: It is not that much better now. It is, indisputably, not that much better. Naomi Wolf went on TV and told every viewer there that it isn’t rape if the victim is unconscious, that penetrating an unconscious woman is “consensual”: It’s not that much better. Those two women’s names were outed, to over 900,000 people, by you and by Keith Olbermann, and attached to a derogatory smear by a Holocaust denier and WikiLeaks representative on little to no evidence, because you support WikiLeaks and treated those two women as expendable in so doing: It’s not that much better. I got a message from a woman that the pro-Assange group, pro-WikiLeaks group she’s allied with, is posting messages that these women are liars and Assange is innocent, on its Facebook group, and that she’s being attacked for standing up to them: It’s not that much better. I got forwarded a link to an actual product that is being sold, an e-card featuring a drawing of a traumatized-looking woman huddled in a shower, reading “Congratulations! You just got bad touched”: It’s not that much better. A woman who was part of the protest told me that a message reading, in part, that she was “a cum-guzzling super slut wannabe hasbian dyke that is angry with the world because no matter how many times she flashed her uneven nigger breasts no man would ever touch her” was posted to It is not that much better. A man told me he had to stop protesting, had to stop posting #MooreandMe, because the harassment had gotten too intense, and “they have my home address and have explicitly threatened me and my wife,” and then he was such a goddamned good person that he actually apologized: It’s not that much better. Many of my friends, people I know and have worked with and respect, have come forward to tell me that they, too, are survivors, the absolute epidemic of rape and sexual assault that we face in this society has become that much clearer to me, the list of women I know who are also rape survivors has become much, much longer since I posted it on Saturday: It is not, it is indisputably not, that much better.

But you went on TV, Michael Moore, and you said that “every woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted or raped has to be, must be, taken seriously.” And when I realized that I was actually grateful for that, that I was so grateful I actually broke down sobbing, well: That’s when I realized the extent of what we’re actually up against. Certain people have been quick to condemn me for “settling” for so little, for taking “crumbs,” but the thing is? We all worked for a goddamned week, non-stop, risking our lives and safety, to hear a man say that women who report sexual assault and rape have to be taken seriously. And we shouldn’t ever, ever have to fight to hear people say that. It should never take a week for us to get through to those people. We should never, ever have to point out to a man that laughing out loud, discussing rape allegations, and calling them a “so-called crime” when the actual extent of the allegations is public knowledge, and OUTING THEM TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHILE REPEATING UNSUBSTANTIATED DEROGATORY SHIT INTENDED TO MAKE PEOPLE DOUBT AND HATE THEM, is WRONG.

The widespread cultural belief that every woman who reports a rape must be taken seriously should be a common part of my day-to-day experience. I should expect that people believe that; I should expect that people behave in accordance with that belief; I should have the right to be shocked or surprised when they don’t. But I don’t expect it. It’s not a common expectation. And that’s why I actually felt real, pure, huge gratitude last night, hearing Michael Moore. Because rape culture is so powerful that even hearing a man say that rape culture and rape apologism isn’t okay comes as a surprise. Strikes me as receiving a special favor. When it shouldn’t be a favor, or a victory; it should be a basic human right.

We’ve been fighting for a long time, and we still didn’t win it all. And as for Keith Olbermann, well… I have certain feelings about Keith Olbermann.

But you know we fought, and we fought, and I was tired, and I was scared, and I was crying, and I was outside the tower, and I knew we had to not go away. And then, well… then he came down.

That was in my Direct Messages inbox. On my Twitter. At the bottom of the 200 unanswered e-mails; I almost ignored it, almost blitzed right past it, because it was on Twitter and those are just new “follow” notifications.

I got a “thank you” from Michael Moore. You did. We all did.

HE FUCKING CAME DOWN FROM THE TOWER. HE CAME DOWN. We stood out here, and we waited, with our megaphones, and then THE MAN CAME DOWN.

The story ended better this time. I mean, in Roger & Me, Roger talking to Michael, that wasn’t going to give those people their jobs back, right? “Gosh, Michael, you have such a good point, allow me to immediately reverse all of this economic devastation.” No. That was never how it was going to work, even as a best-case scenarion. But we wanted Roger to talk to Michael, anyway. We wanted to talk.

They’re talking now. Keith Olbermann is on his Twitter saying it’s “misogynist” to characterize two women with date rape claims as being “in a tizzy,” which Assange did. (It’s also misogynist to refer to one of them as a “notorious radical feminist” — because us feminists, we just plain CAN’T EVER be raped, right, many many many many feminist survivors participating in this protest? — and it’s a flat-out lie to say that they “wrote many articles” about seeking revenge, when in fact what one of them did was TRANSLATE and REPOST an EHOW ARTICLE, and Assange did both things yesterday. Care to address that, Mr. Olbermann?) Keith Olbermann will never thank us for making him a better journalist, or a better person; Keith Olbermann will never acknowledge that his prior coverage kind of skimped on basic standards of both journalism and human decency. But, as many of us pointed out last night, we still accomplished something.

We made it clear that the media narrative of the Assange case, which told us that in order to be pro-WikiLeaks we’d have to minimize, discount, and smear those two women, which told us that women who allege rape and rape survivors are EXPENDABLE when it comes to certain left-wing celebrities or causes, is unacceptable. We made it clear that journalists — men and women — who do this, who minimize and misrepresent those claims, who leak those names, who endanger those women, are going to face consequences. And that those consequences might be bigger than anything they’ve ever seen before; bigger than anything that they had any reason to expect.

I said this on Twitter, before, but: We fought for basic human decency for over a week. We fought, tirelessly, at great risk and expense, to make a mountain move. The mountain moved, like, three inches to the left. If you weren’t looking closely, you wouldn’t notice that it had moved at all. You definitely wouldn’t think to thank or acknowledge the incredibly hard work of the people who moved it. But we moved a mountain. We did the impossible. We went from just a random bunch of frustrated feminists, a random bunch of people on Twitter, to a force capable of changing the rape apologism in the narrative of one of the world’s biggest news stories.

The mountain moved. The man came down from the tower. And we still live in a rape culture; we’re still not done fighting it; the narrative around Assange, in particular, is still hugely misogynist and hugely dangerous for those two women and will still encourage rape survivors not to report. We didn’t get a full apology and correction from Michael Moore; we didn’t get a full apology and correction from Keith Olbermann; neither of them have donated to the many rape crisis and anti-rape organizations to which we’ve provided links; heck, we didn’t even get credit on air. But we know what we’re capable of now. And that is immensely important.

That’s the most important lesson of #MooreandMe, for me, the most important take-away: The next time something is this fucked up, and we feel like we have to fight it, we will. The next time we feel like we have to fight something, we will know fighting can make a difference. The chief thing #MooreandMe gave me, the girl who started out a week ago just writing an irritated Tweet and then eventually hearing a “thank you” from Michael Moore, was faith in the idea that activism can change things. Faith in the idea that you matter. Faith in the idea that, next time we set out to oppose rape culture in our media or our lives, we can do so with that most precious, most rare, most essential of qualities: We can fight rape, and we can have hope.


  1. onomatopoeia wrote:

    because she has done amazing work and inspired so many people, and is a wicked brilliant advocate for survivors. Like me. I meant all that to be implied in my last post, but expressing myself is apparently not one of my strengths. so. EXPLANATION.

    Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  2. Rory wrote:

    Sady; you did a great great work.
    To cheer you up read about Iroquois culture; WHERE RAPE WAS UNKNOWN. Where women had rights, property, dignity,where gift-giving societies prospered. Barbara Alice Mann & Paula Gunn Allen. “Iroquoian Women” “The Sacred Hoop”

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 1:03 am | Permalink
  3. ifandbut wrote:

    Excuse me… referring to Mr. Moore as a “mountain” to be “moved” because he’s in your way. How about next time you try it without the fat hatred?

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 1:14 am | Permalink
  4. Chai Latte wrote:

    “We’ve done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.” –Mal Reynolds

    YAY! Hey, this girl’s grateful for those three inches! w00t!

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  5. darkdaughta wrote:

    i had the strangest experience. i was over at shrubblog looking for feminist blogs i hadn’t encountered before and came across someone who said that they were no longer going to read your blog because you were being mean. hehehe. i’ve been called mean for my views so many times that a woman being accused of being mean seems more like a reason to go check her out than to stay away. 🙂 so i followed the link and came across the post about taylor swift. bang fucking on. then i decided to go check out what had been written more recently and came across this post. i’m glad i did.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  6. laurakeet wrote:

    To Millicent and others, I wrote a letter to RAINN asking about the transphobic stories. On my blog I posted my letter, the initial response (which included RAINN’s non-discrimination policy–which doesn’t list gender identity or expression) and another response. It’s looking hopeful. I’m on Tumblr as thelaurakeet.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  7. Oddrid wrote:

    Thank you Sady. <3

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  8. renniejoy wrote:

    Thank you for being so fucking awesome!!!

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink
  9. Maria wrote:

    “yes, the things he said shouldn’t be stuff that makes lil ol’ me cry from relief — but the world we live in is such that I count it a victory.”

    No. Not when the aim of the campaign was to get Michael Moore to retract the dangerous information he’s put in the world, or at least retract his approval of it by apologising. He hasn’t DONE anything. We absolutely have to continue mooreandme.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  10. Ithiliana wrote:

    Sady: I just read your post at Tumblr about needing to step away for a while, and totally cheered. I posted a link to a Joanna Russ essay in my Dreamwidth/Livejournal because it’s something that it might be useful for people who want you to become the charismatic leader to read:

    Power and Helplessness in the Women’s Movement

    Joanna Russ

    FromMagic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans & Perverts (The Crossing Press, 1985)

    If you’ve been forbidden the use of your own power for your own self, you can give up your power or you can give up your self. If you’re effective, you must be so for others but never for yourself (that would be “selfish”). If you’re allowed to feel and express needs, you must be powerless to do anything about them and can only wait for someone else–a man, an institution, a strong woman–to do it for you.

    That is, you can be either a Magic Momma or a Trembling Sister.

    Magic Mommas are rare and Trembling Sisters are common; the taboo is so strong that it’s safer to be totally ineffective, or as near to it as is humanly possible. Moreover, election to the status of Magic Momma requires some real, visible achievement, which, in a male-dominated society, is rare. Nonetheless, every feminist group contains at least one Magic Momma; success being entirely relative, somebody can always be elevated to MM status. (If canny group members, aware of this possibility, refuse to do, say, or achieve anything, they can be chosen for past achievement, or smaller and smaller differences in behavior can be seized on as evidence of Magic Momma-hood.) Since we are all struggling with the Feminine Imperative, one of the ways achieving women combat the guilt of success is by agreeing to be Magic Mommas.

    * MMs give to others -eternally.
    * MMs are totally unselfish.
    * MMs have infinite time and energy.
    * MMs love all other women, always.
    * MMs never get angry at other women.
    * MMs don’t sleep.
    * MMs never get sick.

    If MMs don’t fulfill the above conditions, they feel horribly, horribly guilty. MMs know that they can never do enough.

    Like the Victorian mother, the Magic Momma pays for her effectiveness by renouncing her own needs. But these don’t go away. The MM feels guilt over her achievements, guilt over not doing more (in fact, this is the common female guilt over not doing everything for everyone), and the steadily mounting rage of deprivation, as well as the added rage caused by having to feel guilty all the time.

    Meanwhile the Trembling Sister has plenty to be enraged about too. Having avoided the guilt of being effective, she’s allowed to feel and express her own needs, but she pays for these “advantages” by an enforced helplessness which requires that somebody fill her needs for her, since she’s not allowed to do so herself.

    The trouble is that nobody can.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink
  11. Dominique wrote:

    Thank you. Just. Wow.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
  12. carla wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  13. Mark wrote:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

    Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  14. mary lou bethune wrote:

    Yes, thank you.
    The world is changing and the women will lead the way.

    Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
  15. snobographer wrote:

    On NPR’s Morning Edition the other day, Assange or somebody representing him is now claiming the women were “bamboozled” into filing rape charges. So the new thing in rape apology – since we’ve established it’s not cool, this time, to paint the accusers as lying sluts – is to make them out to be victims of their own stupidity. Something to keep an eye out for.

    Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
  16. Alex wrote:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who got tears in hir eyes that Michael Moore said what he needed to say. 🙂

    Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  17. snobographer wrote:

    BTW, I was on a temp assignment all last week with no Internet access so I didn’t even hear about your twitter protest until today. I wish I’d been able to participate. I also wish Moore had acknowledged you and his previous misstatements more publicly, but I suppose I’ll take what I can get, for now.

    Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 12:38 am | Permalink
  18. Heather wrote:

    Thank you so much, Sady, for everything that you have done.

    Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  19. Kristin wrote:

    Thank you sady for giving us all hope, and being a beautiful brave example of what it means to stand up for yourselves and your cause without accepting “good enough” as all that’s needed.
    Thank you for helping us sustain a standard in the feminist community as well as media supporters requiring truth in broadcast journalism.

    Your blog means so much to me, and I’m so proud of you for all you’ve done. You’ve given me hope for the future, and that’s the truth sady. that’s the best truth of all.

    Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Permalink
  20. Tony wrote:

    From my heart to your blog, it seems. It’s easy for us men, especially us men of the ‘Left’, to espouse womens’ equality when it involves no self-criticism, no learning, no listening, and no sacrifice. When all that is required is to point the finger at someone else, be he Muslim or Republican. This kind of rhetorical anti-sexism means nothing. Absolutely nothing. Only when it involves ourselves or one of our heroes, only when it requires some cognitive dissonance, is it significant. That is the test of whether we really understand and hold the values we claim, and without our values we are nothing. Thank you for calling out Olbermann and Moore. Take some time to savor this small victory. But still, a “basic human right” as you say has now been relegated to the “Left of the Left.” We are on the margins even in ‘Progressive’ circles. Some people just are not on our side, and will never be. At best, there is a long road ahead; more likely, this is a war that will never end. Peace, sister.

    Monday, December 27, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink
  21. Kay wrote:

    Wow, I have so much respect for what you’ve done. This is great news!

    Monday, December 27, 2010 at 2:11 am | Permalink
  22. I found this very moving, and very important too. I hope a lot of people remember what happened here. Thank you.

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  23. wilywoman wrote:

    Thank you, Sady. Thank you for me and for all of the women that I care about, and all of the men that I care about. Thank you for using your immense strength for something so big. I wish you rest and recovery and look forward to the efforts ahead.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  24. alex wrote:

    You inspire me.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
  25. RachelB wrote:

    I’ve been away from my computer for a while and missed this when it ran, but I wanted to jubilate a bit that he came down. To Sady, and to #MooreandMe: Thank you, and you are awesome and impressive.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink
  26. Magdalene wrote:

    Thank you Sady, from the bottom of my heart. I broke down crying as I read this. I cried tears of sadness and of hope and of joy over a victory that we shouldn’t have to risk our physical safety to achieve. Thank you indeed.

    Friday, January 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink
  27. Kat wrote:

    This pertains more to rape denial that’s occurring apart from #MooreandMe, but I was wondering, Sady, if you’re familiar with Rap News, Juice Media and this video
    It could have been so good, but the treatment of Hilary as shrill and uncaring combined with the dismissive mention of the allegations make it disappointing that it’s getting so much good press.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink