FKA Twigs’s story demonstrates the uselessness of #MeToo if we refuse to learn from it, and act more intelligently
By Bobo Boom on Wikimedia Commons — FKA Twigs, CC BY 2.0
Singer, songwriter, dancer, and this week’s #MeToo cover girl FKA Twigs, the woman whose initials don’t stand for anything, who ‘just wanted a selection of letters that sounded quite kind of masculine and strong,’ filed a lawsuit against career violent bad boy Shia LaBoeuf for sexual assault, battery, and emotional distress.
She met him in 2018 on a movie set, years after he became more famous for his execrable behavior than for his acting, and got involved in a relationship with him.
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG???
Cue the tired Greek chorus of female voices asking the same damn question over and over:
We all know the words! Come on everybody, let’s sing along!
“Because men keep doing this! Because they think it’s okay to treat women this way! Because entitlement and privilege and patriarchy and stuff!”
The wall separating feminist brains from self-awareness and emotional intelligence slams down like a rushed scenic drop in a stage play.
No one acknowledges the other reason this keeps happening.
What will it take to force women to acknowledge the female agency, the female decisions, the choices our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought for us to make, and to finally ask ourselves and each other, “Why do we allow this to happen?”
I mean, it’s not like Black Lives Matter was birthed by a bunch of white people who decided it’s time to end police brutality against blacks.
Are we going to learn anything from Twigs’s story, a woman lacking many of the typical excuses women have to get into and stay in abusive relationships, or will we wipe her tears and say, ‘Great #MeToo story. Smash The Patriarchy. Who’s next?’
Maybe we’ll simply add it to the archive and move along. That’s what a lot of patriarchy-smooshers are best at.
The female chorus of ‘silencing’
The age of #MeToo raised a veritable cacophony of women shouting about how they’re silenced, or were silenced, or will no longer be silenced, with endless public tales of abuse and misogyny. I welcome the female thunder.
But clearly, if anyone’s ‘silencing’ women anymore it’s themselves.
I’m losing patience with the relentless willful cluelessness of women like FKA Twigs. She’s 32 years old, for Goddess’s sake, she’s not a rank ingenue. She’s in show business, she lives in the #MeToo age, she lives in London. How the hell do even young women claim ignorance anymore about dealing with abusive men?
She’s filed a lawsuit against LaBoeuf. Good for her, I’m glad she did and I hope she holds him accountable for what he did to her. Even though she let him, it doesn’t excuse him in the slightest. Someone needs to call him to account.
Please, please, Twigs, just don’t marry the sonofabitch! Don’t reward misogyny like that moron Rihanna did.
“I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency,” Twigs says in the gentle language of the personally disempowered. Her story is standard fare: How these abusive relationships start, why they stayed (minus, for her, the economic reasons), why she let him treat her this way.
Don’t waste your breath, girlfriend. We’ve heard it all before.
We girlies just don’t learn, do we?
You know what I’d like to raise awareness of?
Feminists who insist on enabling women like Twigs and countless others to never examine their own role in allowing abuse. He was Shia LaBoeuf, for pete’s sake; what made her think, Yeah, I want me a piece of this?
Feminist excuses of ignorance and victim socialization have worn so thin you can read your mobile through it.
How are we all failing women?
What are we missing? What are we not teaching them? I’m speaking to all women, but especially those of us who are much older than Twigs, who have even less claim to blithe ignorance in the #MeToo era than she’s got. We’ve been around a lot longer. What’s our excuse?
“Why does this keep happening?” we ask, reciting to ourselves the holy mantra of blaming everything on men.
Never, ever, should we ask why women allow this to happen. Why they refuse to acknowledge their own role in complicit victimhood the same way abusive men deny their role in abuse, or even deny they’re abusers.
We make endless excuses for women to avoid having to ask them — and to acknowledge to ourselves — that physical abuse happens today because women allow it while swimming in an ocean of stories and information and sisterhood. Our excuses ring more and more pathetic with each #MeToo cycle.
It’s not only ‘The Patriarchy’ that infantilizes women. We’re guilty, too, of refusing to challenge women to be the adults we righteously claim women are when men try to deny us the power of choice.
You simply can’t get involved with a guy like Shia LaBoeuf and not know it’s going to end badly. If Twigs really did believe that, then we older women are failing the younger generations.
Twigs says “It can happen to anybody.”
No it can’t. Not to women who don’t allow it and learn from their own and other’s mistakes. Not when some of us actually pay attention to #MeToo stories, take an active role in identifying the dynamics of abusive relationships, and the mistakes women make dancing down that wilted primrose path.
When you see the tiger from a safe distance, you stay away.
Even if your mother didn’t teach you how to be a grownup, even if your father was a poor excuse of a man, an Internet connection and a few social media accounts will show you a world outside your family. The mass media, Internet, and social media revolutions raised awareness of oppression and how to fight and stop it in so many different ways. No one has the right of ‘ignorance’ anymore. We have to challenge each other to do more, be more, stand up more, stand together more.
We have to Just Say No to abuse.
Have you got the labia for that, girlfriends?
The feminist infantilization of women
Young women still seem incapable of learning from others. What’s the point of #MeToo if we don’t learn anything from the deluge of horror stories?
If we’re going to infantilize women, then, fine — no more treating them like grown-ass women.
Maybe we need to chaperone young people again. As I understand the fragile feminist mystique, men are overpowering predatory beasts and women are helpless, fragile little victims-in-waiting. Maybe we shouldn’t allow young people to date without a grownup in the backseat making sure hands don’t touch anything except other hands, monitoring every interaction that happens. It would simply be the next step logical forward for a relentlessly infantilizing consent culture which requires verbal permission for every move you make.
Maybe we should legally enforce remaining a virgin until marriage, since it’s not at all clear women can ever truly consent to sex anyway.
Maybe we should reinstate curfews for women, for their own safety.
Maybe she should have to get her parents’ permission to marry, regardless of her age, and the fiance must get her father’s specific, face to face permission to marry his daughter.
In fact, maybe we should just let Mom and Dad decide who she’ll marry. When a woman can’t identify an abuser despite his well-publicized past, can you really trust her with any personal life decision?
Please don’t feed The Patriarchy
#MeToo is useless without responsive action. It’s been essential for bringing to light the excesses and horrors of misogyny and its historical treatment of women. No one can claim they’re ‘silenced’ anymore, and it’s a good thing. Keep bringing those stories on, but it will take more than testimony to end the sort of abuse FKA Twigs and so many others suffer.
It’s all for nought if women continue to feed The Patriarchy. To witlessly encourage women to keep tolerating abuse, and most of all, to enable the rapists and abusers. If men must be forced to confront the privilege and sense of entitlement to women’s bodies that allows them to violate them, then women must now confront their complicity in their own, and other’s, victimization. Men can’t claim ignorance anymore, and no longer can we.
You can’t return feeling all empowered from your Take Back The Night protest to find your just-raped roommate curled up on her bunk bed sobbing and disheveled and tell her, “Don’t report it; you won’t be believed.”
The rapist thanks you for your support.
We have to do more
We, as women, are failing our sisters.
As privileged and financially independent as FKA Twigs is, as powerful as she thought she was and it’s clear now she’s not, I don’t fault her for not having the wisdom to know how to handle a violent man. She’s right; a guy like him can happen to anyone, but more understandably to a woman who doesn’t know a man’s history. I don’t expect Twigs to have the wisdom of women much older than herself.
I do expect her, now, to Just Say No far, far sooner than she did before. If she doesn’t personally learn anything from this, her lawsuit is a waste of time and resources.
So is #MeToo if we refuse to grow stronger rather than sink further into privileged perma-victimhood.
We are failing the younger generations when we don’t tell them the truth about relationships. It takes two parties (at least) to be in one. Each plays a role and, in the modern world, in the #MeToo era, everyone must take responsibility. In a world where women claim equality, where they’re no longer legal children, they have to accept the responsibility of being adults.
We fail women when we refuse to acknowledge she stayed for a lot of dysfunctional reasons, and not ask what’s going on in female heads as abusive relationships unfold, what hidden psychological weaknesses we need to exorcise, and exercise to build emotional strength and resilience, the way you build stronger muscles at the gym.
It’s not ‘blaming the victim’; it’s taking responsibility, claiming our power, exercising it, and becoming the grown-ass women we claim we are.
We enable abuse and ‘The Patriarchy’ when we make endless excuses for why women make really bad relationship decisions. We refuse to hold women the tiniest bit accountable for their own much-vaunted choices, yet we don’t let men/abusers get away with the tiniest damn thing.
Try arguing abusers can’t be held responsible for how they are. Express endless sympathy for the cruelties of growing up male in a misogynist culture, brainwashed by toxic masculinity, perhaps abusive parents of their own. Try suggesting it’s not their fault they’re abusers, they don’t know any better, they grow up with male privilege they can’t see, you can’t fault them for the way they are, and then share endless tales of abusive men who grew up in bad situations, were socialized in abusive religions and cultures, and how they can’t be held responsible, ever, for abusing women. The poor dears!
Not their fault! Don’t blame the victims!
This line of thinking grants men inclined to abuse to keep up business as usual. It gives them permission.
Ergo, we give women permission to continue being abused when we don’t challenge what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what she, and we, can do better the next time around.
We’ve spent enough time dissecting and analyzing all things male — patriarchy, privilege, entitlement, narcissism, supremacy, and how it perpetuates abuse and oppression of women. It’s now time for women to engage in collective self-analysis, dissecting our own brains and asking ourselves why so many of us follow the well-trodden path into abusive relationships. We’ve already expended plenty of energy on dissecting the why of feminine behavior, or reactive behavior, now it’s time to ask, And what are we going to do about it?
Men don’t possess our brains. They belong to us. They’re our responsibility. And if our psychology fails us in some ways, it’s our responsibility to fix the problems. If there’s no shame in strengthening your body by going to the gym, there should be even less shame in strengthening your mind and your will against tolerating bad relationship behavior.
Let’s stop it with the blame game — for men, most of all for ourselves — and let’s be the grown-ass women we always claim to be.
We must agree to end our complicity in our own oppression.
Support FKA Twigs, but what becomes known can’t be un-known. Hold her, others, and yourself accountable.
This first appeared on Medium in January 2021.