You ever think how a name can change how you view something?
The sitcom Friends was originally going to be called Insomnia Cafe.
I’ve been thinking about the #MeToo movement in Hollywood. I’ve also been thinking about the #IBelieveHer protests in Belfast.
Before you go any further let me clarify that both #MeToo and #IBelieveHer have valid concerns. I agree with the basic premise. I agree with #MeToo and that the casting couch culture needs to end.
In #IBelieveHer I’m not sure what it is they stand for. The lack of clarity is what makes myself and others reluctant to throw our support behind it.
I’m not criticising the movement itself, but it’s branding. You may find that petty; you might be right.
The hashtags at the centre of these movements are odd. #MeToo and #IBelieveHer put the listener first with the “Me” and “I”. The victim comes second.
If the movements are for the victim, then you must put them first.
Think about the phrasing. #MeToo think about it, “ A Hollywood producer assaulted” “Me too”. That is a strange response to someone who is the victim of a crime. Why do you only share your story whenever someone else is coming forward.
If a victim comes forward, you have to support them, not try and make it about you. You may have had your reasons for not coming forward, fear, pragmatism, ennui. You still can come forward, just let the other person have their say first.
Saying “me too” is a bizarre form of one-upmanship in this context. I understand that it is an expression of empathy, a way of saying that we’re all in this together. It’s hard to put my finger on it exactly; it’s wrong. It’s negative; there is a degree of acceptance almost as if “That’s the way things are around here”.
Imagine a time in your life when you said “Me too” was it in the act of defiance or was it in a more conciliatory form.
A better example is #TimesUp. #TimesUp is vague, but there is an immediacy to the words that tell you that enough is enough. #TimesUp feels more like a warning to the Hollywood “male feminist” liberal elite.
#IBelieveHer is a flawed name for a campaign.
First of all, what does it mean to believe?
I’m not having a go at you for your belief but in this case what use does your personal belief serve?
What you are about to read will annoy you. The majority may believe her but the minority, the jury, did not.
You could have spent a bit more time on your message. You could have made a more effective campaign.
You and I should brainstorm.
Who was your grievance with, was it the lads themselves? The trial is over, and the jury believed that no crime took place.
Is it lad culture itself? The private conventions? That is a big undertaking; you are going to have to rewire the male brain and tell women to steer clear of sports stars. I’m not going to get into it here, but I’ll put it like this, don’t trust any man who said that he has never heard talk like that.
Are you upset at the low conviction rate for rape? OK, that’s something that you have more of a chance of changing.
The justice system did not give you the result that you wanted. The justice system failed you.
How about #TheJusticeSystemFailedMe?
That’s falling into the trap of making about ourselves, this isn’t about us.
I’m going to make an out there suggestion.
Let’s make the branding about the person who says that they are a victim.
How about #TheJusticeSystemFailedHer?
You and I are getting closer, but we can drop a few words, #JusticeFailedHer.
Ok again, better but it could do with a bit of tweaking.
All it would take is for someone to look at the hashtag and say “I’m nothing to do with the courts” for them to ignore. By being a member of society you on a level put your trust in the courts, let’s address them directly. Those people are part of the justice system. You and I are a part of the justice system.
Let’s make it more direct, acknowledge that this may be a societal problem. Who is a member of society, you are, I am, we all are.
How about #YouFailedHer?
You could have thought about what you wanted to achieve with your protests.
Instead, you went with the first thing that popped into your head. A hashtag that put yourself front and centre.
I don’t want this to run on too long so let me ask what is it that you hope to achieve?
I’m not asking to be cheeky, I want to know. I have no idea who you are mad at; it appears to be rugby which in Northern Ireland is drawn across political lines.
People with nationalist (nationalist as in wants a united Ireland, not nationalist as in racist) sympathies tend to fall in with the #IBelieveHer crowd. People with unionist sympathies tend to be quiet on the matter.
You need to have a clear idea of what you want to get out of this.
WWI: Stop the Kaiser
WWII: Stop Hitler
Vietnam War: Win over the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people.
Two of these had clear actionable objectives one of them did not.
There is a long road ahead for all of us, the journey will be worthwhile if you and I can agree on where we are going.