While the world cheers on for ‘The Silence Breakers’, accusations about a Latina singer remain under the radar
“It’s hard to say someone you loved raped you. Someone you STILL love.” - Timothy Heller
Here’s the list of some of the “Silence Breakers”, the women and men who embodied the weighty purpose of the #MeToo movement- the actress and the housekeeper, the football player and the university professor, the activist and the dishwasher -who figuratively took a stand and stood with countless others in solidarity:
Ashley Judd, Alyssa Milano, Tarana Burke, Selma Blair, Sara Gelser, Taylor Swift, Blaise Godbe Lipman, Sandra Pezqueda, Rose McGowan, Wendy Walsh, Lindsey Reynolds, Juana Melara, Lindsay Meyer, Sandra Muller, Susan Fowler, Terry Crews, Megyn Kelly, Amanda Schmitt, Adama Iwu.
Those selected as TIME’s Person of The Year for 2017 have, on the surface, little in common. One is a multimillionaire, the other picks strawberries on a field. One is a conservative, the other a liberal. One is Southeast Asian, the other is White. One is straight, the other is gay. They hail from different parts of our country and the world, were born into different family dynamics and religious creeds, and have differing levels of education.
TIME made sure to keep their featured guests diverse in ways that were apparent on camera and behind the scenes, and for that, they should be applauded.
But, something is off. None of these courageous people called to further the #MeToo cause by becoming the faces of the “Silence Breakers” had any accusations against women. Out of the millions who boldly typed the hashtag that they could have chosen and shared their truth… None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
This, statistically, is impossible. A recent Scientific American article noted that “79 percent of men who were 'made to penetrate' someone else (a form of rape, in the view of most researchers) reported female perpetrators. Likewise, most men who experienced sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact had female perpetrators.” Females can also commit these acts on other women, as well as on minors.
The writers of this powerful piece were right in alluding to the ways that patriarchal norms have made us complicit in staying quiet and submissive to allow boys to be boys (especially in the work environment), but what of female perpetrators?
Do they get a slap on the wrist simply by virtue of not having the same inherent privilege as men? Or is it just too uncomfortable to think of girls as perverted reprobates? Is it not feminist?
As someone who worked closely with young victims of sexual violence- many of whom had been assaulted by women- one summer during college, I find this type of sick double standard to be not only reprehensible, but dangerous.
We don’t need to get into my subjective thoughts on the matter from my experience as a social work volunteer, though.
A real-time story about a Latina singer raping another woman is developing right under our noses, and we have been too focused on one side of the narrative (the popular side, the side tied to names like O’Reilly, Trump, and Lauer), to focus on all of the victims that exist under the #MeToo umbrella.
Melanie Adele Martinez, a Puerto Rican and Dominican twenty-two year old from Queens, is an immensely beloved “surreal pop electro” singer, who conceptualized her childhood struggles and mental health debacles in the infantile musical ego of Cry Baby.
Since being a contestant on "The Voice" in high school and the release of her EP in 2014, Melanie has since racked up an impressive and vocal fan base of over 1 million followers on Twitter and 5 million followers on Instagram. Although her music is not mainstream, she is undoubtedly a big name in the industry.
Yet, when Timothy Heller, her former best friend and her victim, published a four-screenshot length accusation, the Internet fell mum and let the story sweep itself under the rug.
Where is the outrage?
Ironically, Timothy (a woman with a “boy name”, as she pithily notes on her bio), had hoped that the impressive support for #MeToo’s sexual harassment survivors would help her garner attention:
“I’m not sure how to end this story. I’m terrified of the response I’m going to get. The only reason I do this now is because I’m hoping because of recent events, people will believe me. If you begin to doubt the abuse taking place in this story, I beg you to imagine her role in this being a man. Girls can rape girls. Best friends can rape best friends. Friendship does not equal consent. Silence doesn’t equal consent. I wish it wasn’t so hard for me to convince myself of these things.”
You shouldn’t need to convince us or yourself so much, Timothy.
We should be raising the voices of those who have also been victimized by women in the conversation, and discussing why these specific cases remain muted or lost to the public eye.
Justice is not justice without being inclusive.
As 2017 is winding down, let’s all remember that this isn’t over. There are so many that remain unheard.