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Lyrics and Life

By Caitlin Ward

10/25/2017

Latch
Sam Smith

You lift my heart up
When the rest of me is down
You, you enchant me
Even when you’re not around
If there are boundaries
I will try to knock them down

I’m latching on, babe
Now I know what I have found
I feel we’re close enough
I wanna lock in your love
I think we’re close enough
Could I lock in your love, baby?

Now I’ve got you in my space
I won’t let go of you
Got you shackled in my embrace
I’m latching on to you

I’m so enraptured
Got me wrapped up in your touch
Feel so enamoured
Hold me tight within your clutch
How do you do it?

You got me losing every breath
What did you give me
To make my heart beat out my chest?
I feel we’re close enough
I wanna lock in your love
I think we’re close enough
Could I lock in your love, baby?

#metoo

Or, “me, too.”

It’s something that’s been going around social media this week in the wake of the revelation that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is a serial abuser. Primarily women, but also some men, have been posting that hashtag, or that simple statement, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The idea is this: we need to let people know how widespread this problem is. People need to know how many women, and also men, have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. We need to be able to speak openly about what has happened to us, and we need to feel supported when we do. We need to have a conversation about this.

I didn’t write “me, too” on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. But it’s not because I haven’t had that experience.

I don’t know if the problem is as widespread as social media sites would have us believe, but then I also don’t know many women over the age of 12 who haven’t been sexually assaulted or harassed. It might have been a one-off incident in the street or at a bar. It might have been an ongoing problem with a colleague, a boss, or a fellow student. It might have been a friend. Or a boyfriend. A husband. An uncle. Or in my case, several of those things, at different times, in different situations, with different men.

But I chose not to write “me, too.” It’s not because I thought it was a bad idea. I saw a number of women and men on my Facebook who posted it. I thought it was brave to disclose that, and in a certain way I thought it was kind, as well. They were willing to reveal that about themselves so others would know this is an issue that needs to be addressed. It allows us to start and also continue conversations that need to happen in various ways and with various people.

But still. I chose not to write “me, too.” I don’t want to say it without getting into the specifics of what has happened to me. I’m not far enough away from the circumstances or the people involved to be able to do so without being at the very least nervous, and possibly even scared. The trouble with any of these conversations is that we can talk about it in the abstract with relative ease. It’s when we get into the specifics that things become sticky. It’s when you point the finger at a particular person who has done a particular thing to you that it becomes hard to discuss.

In the case of someone like Weinstein, it became easy to point the finger at him and call him a monster after the dam broke. Dozens of people have come forward with allegations. But I do wonder how helpful it is to point at him when we’re discussing the broader issue. I worry it reinforces the idea that harassment and assault are only perpetrated by a handful of monstrous people.

If the #metoo hashtag teaches us anything, it’s that the issue is far too widespread only to be at the hands of a few heinous individuals. Rapists are not creatures from the black lagoon. We live in a culture that tacitly accepts, and often even romanticizes this kind of behaviour. The words we use to describe love and the words we use to describe obsession or ownership of a person are frighteningly close, sometimes. The journey from objectifying women on the street to denying their autonomy on a date is shorter and more slippery than many of us realize. Things that seem cute in romantic comedies would be terrifying in real life.

I chose “Latch” by Sam Smith for this column not because I thought it was particularly bad or creepy or because I think Sam Smith must be guilty of something. I chose it because it’s a pretty normal song that has a questionable undercurrent in it. As many songs do.

Ultimately, we need to come to terms with the fact that people who are generally good can do horrible things. And what’s more, we need to recognize that people are not only the bad things they’ve done. We need to make space for remorse and reconciliation, and dig deep to the heart of where these toxic attitudes and behaviours come from so we can change hearts and minds. In some ways it doesn’t seem fair, I know, but it is near impossible to admit fault if you know you will be completely ostracized if you do. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that someone might have done some of these things if it means that that person is irredeemably horrible for having done so.

I think it’s important to note, too, that I say this not as someone who doesn’t understand the trauma that results from this behaviour, but as someone who understands it intimately. But I also understand that as Catholics, we have to be willing to recognize that we are sinners capable of redeeming ourselves and of being redeemed by Christ. We must also be willing to recognize that every sinner, regardless of the sin, can be redeemed.

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings