Calling Victims of Abuse (Who Finally Speak Out), "Hypocrites!" That's Stupid.
"What Took Them so Long?!"
The two ways to ask this question of victims of injustice.
At the Golden Globes on Sunday every woman came dressed in black to show solidarity for those who have endured harassment in Hollywood. The time is up, they declared. The #metoo movement has made it abundantly clear that the violence against women in Hollywood has been rampant, widespread, and gone on long enough. Brave women began to talk about their experiences, leading to snowball of more and more women saying, #metoo.
As a general principle, I have to believe that the majority of humans on this earth would support the ending of injustice. As a general principle, I have to believe that the majority of humans on this earth would be in favor of oppressed people (and people groups) standing up for themselves and saying, “I want this oppression to end.”
If you are a decent human, with just the basic level of decency and kindness, then I have to believe that you think harassment is wrong, violence is unkind, and using power to negatively control other people should not happen.
So it shocks me to discover that there are people who responded to the women at the Golden Globes with anything other than full support and cheering them on.
But I get it. Plenty of people have their issues with the “Hollywood elite.” Fine. Maybe you’re not totally gung-ho about their choice to use their platform and influence to speak out against injustice. So I guess I could at least understand a posture of indifference toward it.
But I have actually interacted with people who are downright antagonistic against what happened. And it blows my mind.
There are some people who hold the position of, “what took them so long?” but in a way that wants to now dismiss their voices because they’ve never said anything about it before!
One guy in particular told me (in a Facebook conversation, where all the best discussions happen... Socrates would be so proud), while talking about the women’s attempts to elicit change by speaking out against the culture in Hollywood, he said,
“(sure, they’re saying something now) after 40 years of silence. They’re hypocrites. They enabled them for decades. Then all of a sudden it wasn’t “ok” to do that. Please.”
This person legitimately took issue with women speaking out against injustice BECAUSE IT TOOK THEM 40 YEARS TO DO SO.
Now, admittedly it is incredibly hard for me to understand this perspective. And I try to practice empathy, and really understand where people are coming from.
But in this case, I just can’t.
This sort of thinking is just plain stupidity.
So you’re telling me there’s some sort of statute of limitations on oppression? Like, if you don’t speak out within a certain window of time, then you’ve missed your chance and you must therefore go on enduring the oppression otherwise you’re a hypocrite?
Like I said. Stupidity.
Oh, sorry citizens of America, you took too long to complain about the British empire. Your window to declare independence is closed. You must continue being the recipient of British injustice.
“But, taxation without representation!” Oh shut up, you hypocrite. Why haven’t you said anything until now?
Oh, sorry african americans in the south, sold in to slavery. It’s been a couple decades now, and there hasn’t been complaints about the culture. You must continue being owned by white people.
“But, slavery is a stain on humanity’s existence!” Oh shut up, you hypocrite. Where were you 40 years ago when slave ships sailed across the Atlantic?
Oh, sorry women. We’ve had a system in place for generations where you don’t get to vote. You must continue living in a country that doesn’t see you count as a human.
“But, we ARE humans! We must be allowed to vote, this is wrong!” Oh shut up, you hypocrite. You’ve endured this culture for years without saying anything.
You see the absurdity, right?
How absolutely stupid it is to tell victims of abuse/oppression/violence that--because they didn’t say anything sooner--they are therefore now being hypocritical when they finally DO stand up and say, “enough is enough!”
If what you’re saying is, “I don’t respect or hear your complaints NOW because you’ve never said anything BEFORE,” then what you’re saying is, “just shut up and continue to be oppressed.”
So, so, stupid.
The only time--I repeat, the ONLY time--you should ask the question, “what took you so long?” is when you are genuinely wanting to learn why victims of abuse/oppression/injustice have not felt empowered to speak out beforehand. Asking, “what took you so long?” is a powerful way to listen to the voices of those who have endured pain at the hands of the powerful. We can learn all sorts of things by asking why it might be that people who suffer injustice haven’t spoken up before. Or (as is often the case), we might discover that they HAVE been speaking up for years, but it’s only now that WE have heard them.
But people, I just can’t with the “oh please, you hypocrites.”
That position is so illogical, so stupid, that it honestly hurts my heart that any human would think that way.
If you don’t want to believe the #metoo women, or if you don’t want to listen to their stories, then fine. That's your prerogative.
Just don’t do the stupid thing of telling them that they’ve missed their opportunity to speak out. Don’t be stupid and call them hypocrites for not saying anything before.
When victims of abuse finally hit a breaking point and declare “enough is enough,” if your response is to dismiss them because they took too long (in your eyes), then you’re just being stupid.
And I don’t even feel bad saying it.