Drawn to Comics: Four Cartoonists Explore the Complexity of #MeToo and Public Trauma

There isn’t a woman anywhere who’s been surprised by the ubiquity of the #MeToo movement on twitter over the last couple weeks. Women and other people used the hashtag to show solidarity with each other and say that they, too, have been sexually assaulted. A Black woman named Tarana Burke came up with the “Me Too”movement ten years ago, and then recently Alyssa Milano brought it back up (and unfortunately was given credit instead of Burke) and people on twitter started to spread it like wildfire. This hashtag has meant a lot to a lot of women; at the same time, it brought up a lot of pain for many more. I can’t even count the number of women and non-binary folks I know who had to take a few days off of Twitter when the hashtag was at its height. On The Nib, four cartoonists got together to make short comics showing how the hashtag hasn’t been helpful for all victims of sexual assault and harassment.

All of these comics are painful. Angelica Frausto’s comic speaks to the frustration of people performing rage and allyship online while no one did anything to stop her actual public sexual assault. It’s hard to read. She asks where all the “me toos” were then — where were the allies who would retweet all those tweets?

When Shing Yin Khor talks about how she has finally been able to get past her assault and she’s built up walls to block out the terror afflicted upon her, I cried. She had to work hard to get where she is, and doesn’t want to remember the details of what happened to her. This is a thing that I saw a lot of people say, and something I thought about too. It’s so hard to see everyone saying Me Too when you don’t want to think about how it’s true about you too.

Amanda Scurti brings up another hard truth about the hashtag: none of this is new. None of this should be news. We shouldn’t need this hashtag to tell men to stop assaulting us. We shouldn’t need this hashtag to wake us up. Honestly, it’s garbage that it takes all this for men to finally step up — if they’re ever going to do that after the hashtag is over. She asks if this is all just performative, why allies aren’t doing more. She asks why they haven’t been doing more all along.

The final comic is written by trans man Jay Edidin and illustrated by Dylan Meconis. Trans men face horrifically high levels of sexual assault, often times by men who are trying to “fix” them. In the comic Edidin says talks about his experiences with the hashtag as a trans man, which is a valid position to bring up, but he then says “It doesn’t matter that I don’t have access to male privilege,” which as a man, he definitely does. Edidin shines an important light and I’m glad this comic was included. I would also have loved to see a comic by a trans woman as trans women are also sexually assaulted at alarming rates, are told to keep our assaults secret, and are women who’s voices often get erased in dialogues like these.

The #MeToo hashtag was an important one; it was also imperfect. These comics are illuminating that and speaking up for others who feel the same way but were or still are afraid. I’d been thinking many of these same things, but I’ve been afraid to say them. I’m thankful for everyone brave enough to come forward and use the hashtag. I’m thankful for everyone fighting against sexual assault. I’m thankful for people that are making sure no one is left behind.

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Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.

If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com

Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 574 articles for us.

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for this Mey. I also choose to take a break from social media because of the hash tag – like the second comic you mention, my healing was hard won and I’m feeling the need to protect it. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in that.

    I am really glad that the hash tag is starting more conversations. I think they’re important.

  2. I’m saddened that we need a hashtag so we can talk about this, but I’m also glad that we are finding a voice where we can speak out against sexual violence. Before this, I hadn’t realized that men don’t seem to know that most women they know have been victimized in this way. Maybe we’ll finally have some sway and be seen as more trustworthy when we speak out against injustice done to us.

  3. Thanks for bringing this collection to our attention. I’ve been sifting through so many similar feelings to some of the emotions highlighted here. #metoo may not be enough, and it may not help, but reading these comics did, just for a moment.

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