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Just before I left for vacation, I published two of my short stories on Amazon. One is about a ghost who witnesses her own funeral and features my most popular character. The other is a tale that I should have probably written more of, but in just 1,500 words I drive home the point about what males go through when they are sexually assaulted. It was a story that started out as one concept and morphed into this piece that I am incredibly proud of. While talking about it with a few writer friends, one of them said something that struck me. She told me I should use the hashtag me too to promote the story. The sheer cynicism in that statement shook me to my core.
For those that don't know, the #MeToo campaign was designed to help women come forward with their own stories of sexual abuse or harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Yes, some men also came forward, which led to some arguments about whether they should have or not, but I am not going to write about that. The point is, it would be quite cynical of me to usurp that hashtag when it is doing so much good for people who need it. Even a money-hungry heathen like me has limits to what I'm willing to do for a quick buck. Apparently, that means I want to stay broke in some writing circles.
Money has never been my driving force. The want to do better, the drive to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and to do what I love is what motivates me. Yes, I need money to eat, which I get from my regular gig doing social media posts for small businesses, which is how I learned about the #MeToo campaign to begin with. There was an email asking me to look more into it and see if this attorney could help any of the women. The same lady that says I should've used the hashtag to sell my book says that the lawyer wanted to bring in new business.
My friend makes a fair point about my book being on target with the central issue of sexual assault being important to the hashtag and in my story. It's also true that I would like to get it into as many hands as possible, in the hopes that it will start a conversation about guys being raped and hurt sexually, too. It's a conversation that for far too long has been pushed aside or laughed off because "guys can't be raped."
Ryan Murphy tried to bring to light this delicate issue in an episode of Glee when Sam tells his friends that he was taken advantage of by a former babysitter. The straight bros high-five and act like he should have been grateful for the attention of a woman. My story adds a component of the central character being known as a Lothario and people assume that it was a consensual setup. Neither of those reactions from the "community" around these men was OK, but it is something that survivors deal with on an everyday basis.
This leads me back to the hashtag debate. I have very strong feelings about respecting every person who has survived sexual harassment or assault, including rape. Even if I donated all of the proceeds from sales I got from using that hashtag, I would still feel dirty and like I violated those people coming forward with their stories. When I started writing, I made myself a promise only to do things that felt right to me. Sure, that means I probably will never have a million bucks in my bank account, but I'll have my dignity. And that is priceless.