I feel this way because I'm afraid that even with the current public discussion is that we are going to simply do the normal "American" thing and move on.
I've seen it with countless other issues, from LGBT rights being stripped, to Puerto Rico being ignored, and the discussion on Gun Control in our country after the worst mass shooting in modern US history is already a distant memory.
It's tiring, it's exhausting, and it is emotionally draining.
You are so right. I found myself thinking about exactly this today. I read an excellent advice column response about inappropriate sexual behavior from a friend and I was thinking about the emotional labor framing that Captain Awkward uses:
I think there are two questions women can ask themselves when a man does something that creeps them out that are way better than “but did he MEAN IT-mean it”:
1. Does he do this behavior to other men? Do his dad or his boss or his male buddy have to say “Whoa dude, consider the pants” when they chat with him?
2. Do we think he’s doing even a tenth of the emotional labor in this situation that you are? 1/100th? 1/1000th?
This week has felt like a century. I don’t know about y’all but I’m done with doing this much work around men behaving badly.
I felt some profound recognition, reading that. I have not been on the #MeToo hashtag, but I've been in so many offline conversations about Weinstein and about sexual harassment and abuse. About power dynamics and consent. About reputation and rumors.
Because of this cultural moment, I am finding out about incidents that the victims never mentioned before; and then having to deal with the third-party revenge fantasies of our mutual friends. Discussing rape culture and missing stairs every day, and dredging up near-misses and bad incidents from my past to compare and contrast with my friends'. And I'm one of the 'lucky ones'! (A friend said to me today, "I think I'm one of the 'lucky ones', because I've only experienced A & B, little things...and then I remember a C and a D, and oh yeah, actually, E-F-G, and now there's a whole fucking alphabet of 'little' things.")
And my biggest fear, like Adam, is that it's all going to be for naught. That this many people -- not just women, if mostly women -- will have shown their scars, and processed with their friends and family, and tired themselves out doing this work, and it will be for nothing.
Being subjected to sexual misbehavior is intensely draining, even on the lowest level. Just questionable behavior from a friend, with no employment involved or physical threat or anything overt, creates a huge amount of awkwardness and social work that devolves on the person who is uncomfortable. (Does he mean that or doesn't he? Maybe he's just really huggy? I don't want to be aggro and make a big thing of this, but I don't want his hand there: I'll just put my purse here to block him. I'll mention my boyfriend a little more than I need to, in case he is actually interested. I'll take the less convenient chair. I'll move to the other couch. I'll set a boundary, but in a funny way!) It gets exponentially worse as the behavior and the context escalate beyond that: and right now everyone who has a history of being drained by this is doing a bunch of processing and discussion. No wonder we are sick and tired.
So I'd like to add to some of the great suggestions above for cishet dudes of privilege*, including Ryan's to call men out for "creepy, douchey or sexist" behavior/words, whether or not you think they mean it:
-Recognize (and help other people with your privilege set to recognize) that although this conversation is important, not everyone wants to have it or continue it right this instant. Lots of survivors don't want to talk about it, especially publicly; and the emotional labor component means someone who HAS been talking about it might want or need to take a break from it.
-Talk about it amongst yourselves too, even if you're not calling anyone out at the time. That 'sailing along in obliviousness' that Chris and Ryan talked about is a real phenomenon. But hopefully guys like George Clooney who say they only knew HW was hitting on young actresses will talk with their friends (hey, Brad Pitt knew more than that, George! Go have coffee!) and discuss how people making sexual passes across that kind of power differential is a major red flag, even if you don't know about the coercion applied in private. You can talk about times you missed something, or did notice something. You can talk about the jokes or events that have made you uncomfortable in the past, and how you wish you had responded, so in the future you will feel better prepared. This is a way of taking emotional labor onto yourself and sharing it with other privileged folks.
*I specify several forms of privilege here since of course although the current discussion is centered on women being harassed at work by men, abuse is way more wide-ranging than that, and survivors of all genders have come forward. For obvious power-dynamic reasons, the silenced are usually marginalized on at least one axis.