As a self-professed emotional creature and survivor of sexual abuse, I knew I had to write a blog when the #MeToo movement began in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
My first reaction was to feel deep pain and sadness in my spiritual and emotional being. I saw the flood of MeToo’s on Face Book, with more than twenty names of people I know and love. Twitter confirmed on Monday, October 16 that more than half a million had tweeted. The magnitude of the problem hit me powerfully.
My sadness soon shifted to anger as my mind started to torture me once again with all my memories from the past. I wondered what the others had survived. Likely their experiences ranged in intensity as much as mine. The babysitter when I was four who made me jerk him off, give him oral sex, and eventually raped me. The friend’s brother who tried to fondle me at a sleep-over. The boy-men who flashed me in high school (there were two) and the man who followed me on my way to University, jerking himself off beside me. The boy who raped me when I was fifteen. My ex-husband. So many, too many.
More and more people posted their feelings and thoughts along with their MeToo. The first responses came from women and girls and addressed the issue of inequality in our cultures. Anthony Ekundayo spoke about the need to reform the passive voice, where we talk about women being raped instead of men raping and teenage girls getting pregnant instead of men and boys impregnating girls and women, which shifts the focus and responsibility off men and onto women.
There is a feminist rising, and it is appropriate. After all, the legacy of abuse is most often perpetrated by men towards women and girls. There are organizations growing in their numbers, strength and impact that address the need to empower women and girls. I listed many when I wrote Feeling Passionate about the Rising Global Sisterhood on International Women’s Day.
On This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a Canadian television comedy, the commentator spoke about how women have been letting it go for centuries, referring to women not wanting to report, embarrass, or call out sexual offenders. She used humour, but she kept it real and ended with a promise, “together we’re ready to make some noise.”
But then men started adding their #MeToo’s. I realized with profound clarity that this is not a gender issue. I read an article in the Feminist Current that claimed we can not possibly be shocked by news like the Harvey Weinstein allegations when “we all live in, participate in, and are complicit in” a culture that accepts sexual harassment and abuse. This is a societal issue that needs to be addressed by everyone.
Fear is the underlying problem. It is the force that divides humanity into us versus them mentalities. It is the same logic that defines a terrorist by his religion. When a man commits a crime of sexual abuse, it is not because he is a man. But what, then, is the cause?
This is where the real challenge lies, because the truth is we don’t know what creates evil, hatred, lack of empathy, desire for control and abusive behaviour. We know some criteria that can be correlated, but not with consistency. There are always exceptions. The person who breaks the cycle. The causes are as infinite as the different people and experiences of humanity that exist.
And so, we allow our fears and our lack of understanding to keep us from action. And the fear wins and the cycles continue because we believe that it is human nature and can not be changed. I challenge this belief in it’s entirety. If we believe, we can change the world. It is in our power. Our beliefs have the power to manifest. We create the reality of our world.
So, how do we move forward? The task is daunting, but we can break it down into smaller, more manageable bits. In fact, it’s already begun.
We must stop blaming the victims. The responsibility always lies with the abuser. Jessica Valenti said in her column in The Guardian that it was time to name the perpetrators. I disagree, believing that shaming and blaming will not contribute positively towards the goal of change. Perpetrators need compassion and support to take accountability and then begin their own process of healing.
Education is integral. We need to educate our children and to do that we need to have an open discussion. Organizations like Safe Kids, Thriving Families teach children how to respect and honour their bodies.
Actress and activist Mayim Bialik posted a fantastic video that focused more specifically on how we need to change the paradigm of how we raise our boys. She stressed the importance of educating boys to understand that we are all equal, have the right to feel safe, and that our consent must be given before anyone is allowed to touch our bodies.
And while it’s important to talk the talk, we must walk the walk. There’s no point telling our boys that girls are equal when we continue to have cultures that value the birth of a boy more than the birth of a girl and proceed to honour them with special privilege and status.
Support is a huge part of what is missing in our socio-economic structures. Single parents and families of low socio-economic status often don’t have access to resources. Their kids don’t get the same opportunities for education and their cycles keep repeating. The scarcity mentality is a breeding ground for criminal behaviour, stealing what doesn’t belong to you in desperation.
Spirituality and a belief in a higher power are powerful motivators that help many people to strive to be their best. People who believe and have faith in God often have the internal strength to resist evil desires, choosing not to act on their impulses and to live their lives with character and integrity. They may hold Jesus or Mohamad or Buddha as role models they wish to emulate. There are those who will use their religion to commit atrocities, but it is their perverted perspective that is the cause, not the tenets of their faith.
Which leads me to the subject of the current moral climate. The person who holds the highest office in government in the most influential county in the world is lacking in character and integrity. He is a misogynist, racist, divisive, ill-mannered, uncouth, uncivilized, immoral leader. His election to a position of such high reverence gives fuel to the proponents of hatred, corruption, greed and evil that is vying to take control over all of humanity.
Clearly, there is a long road ahead before the world becomes the place I imagine it could be. We must not stop forging ahead, speaking up, and making the change we wish to see in the world.
So yeah, I’m feeling anything but shocked, compelled to action by the MeToo movement.