Welp, that was fast. I mean, we all knew it would happen, but damned if it didn’t arrive licketysplit.
We are officially living in the “it is now okay to make bad jokes about #MeToo” space.
First, I heard it from a male coworker in a meeting when he discussed the order in which we would be presenting a project. “And I’ll go first,” he said. “Me first. Like Me Too, right? #MeFirst.”
Then it was a male friend. “You all ordered beers without me? What about mine? #MeToo!”
After that it seemed to come from everywhere. There were jokes on podcasts, jokes overheard in bars and restaurants. The bubble of care and tip-toeing was popped, and men were free to make light of something that made them very uncomfortable.
I have yet to hear a woman make a #MeToo joke that wasn’t delivered in order to highlight the actual movement and not to make light of or jokingly appropriate a phrase.
I know that these jokes are silly, and not intended to inflict any pain or offense. I know that many may read this and call me a feminist killjoy. Afterall, the #MeToo movement and others like it are still front and center in the public discourse and being taken very seriously. It is something that a number of industries and businesses are finally addressing in a real way, and it is spreading around the world.
You may also argue that the world needs laughter and banter and we should have the ability to laugh at ourselves. I agree. But I can’t help but feel that jokes like these open a door, and welcome in a hint of mockery, a breeze of doubt and double-talk.
Because the wounds are still fresh and they reopen all the time.
October 2017, the month in which both The New Yorker and The New York Times released their heart-and-gut-wrenching pieces on Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual assault, was less than a year ago. Attendees wearing all black to the Golden Globes in a nod to Time’s Up? Yeah that was January of this year. Bill Clinton’s abysmal responses to questions about sexual harassment were a few weeks ago. Just a handful of days ago we found out that Haim fired their agent after discovering that they were making ten times less than a male artist booked for the same festival. And it was earlier this month that Jeff Sessions announced that asylum seekers can no longer cite fears of violence or domestic abuse as a means to enter the United States.
Every day, stories of mistreatment, assault, abuse, harassment and coercion are coming to light. We aren’t cured, and everything isn’t safe, fair, perfect.
So is already okay to make light of something so huge? So important? Turning #MeToo into a phrase that can be used as a bad joke about forgotten beer?
I am not ready to fake laugh at that quite yet.