In a profile for Vulture, writer Carmen Maria Machado, whose short story collection Her Body and Other Parties is in development as a TV series similar to “Black Mirror,” discusses the broad spectrum of behavior that causes harm to women, the nuances of “benevolent sexism,” who gets to define the #MeToo movement, and how it should progress.
“What is #MeToo, really?” Machado thought aloud, over a duck egg balanced atop a tower of crisp potatoes. “What does it mean at its core? Is it about power? Is it about gender? Who decides?” She’s thinking about these questions as she writes her next book, which will also explore the thornier regions of #MeToo, but has nothing to do with Díaz, or any man. In March, she wrote a long Facebook post about her abusive ex-girlfriend and the anguish she’d felt about not naming her sooner. This relationship will be the subject of her untitled speculative memoir, forthcoming from Graywolf next year. “There is no council saying, ‘This is the meaning of #MeToo,’” she continued. “There’s no magic council of women in really long robes.” So how did she define this moment that we’re in? “It’s about previously unspoken elements of sexual harassment, rape, and power being brought to light,” she concluded.
But what comes after? “God, what should we do with them?” she said with a laugh. Clearly, men who have committed crimes should be held accountable, but for all the rest, she imagined a sort of fantastical body-swap experiment. “If all things were equal, if it was fair, men would get to experience what we get to experience. In terms of having their art utterly devalued at every turn. In terms of not being taken seriously. Obviously,” she added dryly, “I don’t think that will happen.”