Matt Lauer has been fired from NBC for sexual misconduct. And just so we’re clear: the onslaught of allegations isn’t going to stop any time soon.
We’re not going to wake up one morning without a name trending on Twitter. We’re not going to stop being surprised and also unsurprised at the deluge of allegations and confessions and admissions and bullshit half-apologies. In fact, we’re not even getting started. Because, for every famous man who’s outed as the predator he’s been for days or months or years or decades or just that one time he swears, there’s a thousand more. The floodgates have merely been opened a crack, and little by little the sludge is coming through.
And I say this because it’s important to know what we’re in store for. It’s been nearly two months since the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to pass and with every revelation about every predatory man, it seems like we’re closer. Closer to finding them all, to outing them all, to making them go away. But we’re not. These are some big names, yes. But bigger, just-as-guilty names are in Washington, in Ottawa, in embassies, in office towers. Smaller names are your coworkers and your bosses and your students and your friends. They’re names who’ve propped up and enabled the men we’ve watched fall, and silenced anyone who dared speak up. They’re names who’ve played devil’s advocate or laughed when they heard claims, or they’re the persons who installed that remote door lock in Matt Lauer’s office. They’re names who looked the other way. They’re names who’ve hid behind being allies and feminists and equal opportunity players to distract us from what they were up to. They’re everywhere. They’re nervous, I hope. They should be.
But it’s easy to chalk up one name as a victory to the cause, or to think our work is done. It’s easy because it’d be nice to believe that it is; that after what feels like the longest two months in recent memory, we’re almost finished. That we’ve scared them all, that they finally know better. But we also know that isn’t true — that telling ourselves that is like being comforted by a bedtime story you know isn’t real, but sure helps you sleep at night. Instead, we have more work and more work and more work and more fighting and more listening and more ostracizing to do. It may never stop. But in the meantime, we can hope we’re making things mighty uncomfortable for anyone who knows they could be next.
Because we all know the names of who could be next. We read the news, we listen to those who’ve been preyed upon, and we’re not naive enough to believe that a handful of entertainment figures is the cure for a culture built on the abuse of power. But we have endured this much, so now, as allegations mount and names trend on Twitter and familiar faces fall, we endure even more. We don’t stop calling out harassment, abuse, assault, enablers, false allies. We don’t stop listening. We don’t dust our hands or believe our work is done. Instead, we evolve into the biggest pains in the ass we can possibly be.
We share accounts and allegations should that be what a survivor wants. We don’t tolerate empty apologies and we don’t underestimate the power of numbers and of being relentless and of saying, “Fuck this and fuck you.” We chip away with our stubbornness, with our anger, with our exhaustion, with our frustration over how exhausted this has made us. Because for as exhausted and angry as we are, imagine anyone who’s stepped up and come forward. So if they can do it, we can do it. Even if our “it” is accepting that we have only reached the tip of the iceberg; that we’re far from the end.
Matt Lauer was another name in a long list of names. So today we tell ourselves, “Good, got another one!” But tomorrow we go get the next. And in the meantime, if you’re feeling depleted and tired and at a loss, remember that’s normal — that’s okay, you’re a person. Take some time. Just remember that your work does pay off. None of this would be happening without it. Guilty men wouldn’t be terrified if it wasn’t for you.