I’m honestly a bit shocked that so many women I know and respect are suggesting this. Rather than responding to each private message I’ve received, here are some thoughts, beginning with just a few of the reasons this idea is problematic:
- How many women who’ve been assaulted and raped have been blacked out at the time — then had this used against them or given them cause not to report, knowing it would be thrown in their faces. They should’ve known better than to have been drinking. Or maybe they were drugged unknowingly. It doesn’t matter how. The cause of rape is rapists. Period.
- The men who are running this show, those who apologize for and defend misogyny and misogynoir, will not bat an eyelid no matter how many women “go dark” for a day. In fact, they’d probably say, “Oh good, they finally shut the fuck up for once.”
- Facebook thrives on this kind of thing — just as it was quick to make a “Believe Women” temporary profile picture frame. Maybe it’s paranoid on my part, but sometimes I think social media keeps us myopic in ways that are ultimately self-defeating.
These are just a few of the many reasons a “black out” to make a statement is so problematic.
This is not the way.
Instead, in addition to fiercely brave story-sharing, we need to look to economic and political action.
We need to learn from our sisters and mothers in countries like Iceland, where on October 24, 1975, 90% of that nation’s women showed that everything — ev-er-y-thing — would come to a halt without their labor.
Now, I realize the United States is no Iceland. Its population is half that of our smallest state, nor is racial inequality woven into its every system.
My point is this: I love us. I get that changing your profile picture may lend a momentary sense of connectedness.
In this case, however, it’s missing the mark completely, suggesting further silencing and erasure of a population plenty of men would be happy never to hear from at all.
Why would we give them that?
As an alternative to erasing your face, what if you took this as an opportunity to show up?
Show up in whatever ways make sense for you. We need to see you and hear from you, not have you disappear.
And if you choose to be quiet as a form of self-preservation, know that you are surrounded by folks who believe you. Who see you in an absence you never would have chosen for yourself.
Think about it.