There is great potential in the tidal wave of posts related to the #metoo campaign which demonstrates the scope of how women are treated in our society. I acknowledge that women are not the only ones affected by this. Children, men, trans and non-binary gendered people are affected. It’s not an isolated issue, it’s not a simple issue, it has no simple answers. Yet several posts in my feed call for action to respond to #metoo. What will the outcome be?
From my perspective, we could go in a few directions.
One direction leads to a flop, a blip on the radar:
- A flurry then fade effect that it inspires action for a short time before the status quo regains its hold. I can hear your inner cynic predicting this outcome. I know mine is!
- Reactions in heated online discussion provoke further suppression. Of course, this isn’t desirable at all, and possibly our worst outcome.
Another direction could take us into new territory. Our collective voice making space for something unprecedented to emerge. What would this mean?
- Men being inspired to raise their voice in support after reflecting on what it means for them and society. This is starting to happen on a small scale.
- We begin to behave differently. We speak up when we witness and experience harassment and others back up these dissenting voices.
- We educate ourselves about what harassment actually is and what constitutes assault, adopting an attitude of intolerance of these behaviors.
- And we are compassionate as we create this new normal, we make it ok to speak out we make it safe for those who engage in harassment and abuse to heal too.
That last part is the one I am most concerned about. I would like to think we could accept responsibility and work through this difficult issue, but that cynical part of me is quite loud. This stuff is generations old, back in the day rape within wedlock was legal. It wasn’t even considered rape, women were, effectively property. To make the shift from acceptance and tolerance of women being treated as objects to respect for self-determination is going to take a serious stepping up.
Unfortunately, I see little evidence of our capacity to make this transition well (yes, my inner cynic). It will be messy and uncomfortable. We will be tempted to simplify, stereotype and point fingers. Attacking and shaming perpetrators who speak out, sadly emulates the abusive and disrespectful behaviors we so desperately want to leave behind. We don’t know how it will turn out but we have options about how we engage, behave and advocate.
We can make a courageous choice in each interaction. It’s possible for us to take collective responsibility for how we behave toward each other and bring empathy and compassion to the healing process. Of course, that’s far easier to say than do, but despite my loud inner cynic, I also have a perennial optimist that has faith in humanity. And I will keep banging on about what’s possible for my own sake as much as anyone else’s. What will you do?
This is day 2 of 45 posts for 45 years. It was hard two write but I did it anyway.