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#MeToo: Why now? How does this keep happening? What now?

 

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November 22, 2017 0 comments

Over the last several weeks, there has been what has been called a reckoning occurring in our world. Dozens, if not over a hundred, of women (and men) have come forward and shared their stories of how men in positions of power have sexually harassed or assaulted them. The perpetrators exist in every sphere of our world imaginable: politics, Hollywood, sports, journalism, religious communities, etc.

How do we make sense of this? Why is this happening now? How do we respond? Do all survivors have to share their stories now? Why does sexual violence seem to be so pervasive? What if I’m being triggered by all these news stories? My hope is to cover a handful of these questions, but we’ll see what happens.

To start, its important to note that this is not new. It is not new for women to be coming forward about stories of harassment and assault. This may be the largest number of women to come forward as publicly as they are in this time span, but this is not new. Women have been speaking up for the entirety of human history, we just may now be willing to listen. Well, some of us anyway. More on that in a little bit.

So why is this reckoning happening now? I strongly believe it has everything to do with Donald Trump being elected President of the United States of America last year. There were over a dozen of women who came forward during the campaign last year sharing their stories of how Trump had assaulted them. Some people listened and believed them and spoke up about how this makes Trump unfit for President. Some people accused the women of lying and just trying to run a smear campaign against Trump because of the timing of the accusations (it didn’t seem to matter to these people that many of these women had actually gone public with this news years prior). People attacked and threatened these women and accused them of playing politics, etc. rather than seeing their bravery and courage to stand up against such a powerful figure. When Trump was elected, there was an uprising in feminist and advocate communities to resist and go to work to make sure something like this never happened again. This resulted in the Womxn’s Marches all over the country (and world) and some serious reflection on how so many white women could have voted for this sexual predator.

I think that people have had enough. Women have had enough of being silenced and threatened for speaking out against the ways they’ve been assaulted and harmed by the men in this country. So, we’re rallying together to speak up, share our stories, and hold our perpetrators accountable.

When someone shares their story publicly, and there are people that are supporting her, believing her, and actively working to protect her from retaliation, it gives hope to other survivors that they can also share their story and not be damned for it.

 

This needs to continue. We must believe survivors. There is really nothing in it for them to come out publicly about this type of event. It costs them emotionally, relationally, professionally, etc. to speak publicly about how men who have held power over them took advantage of their position. So, stop trying to come up with reasons why these women would be lying, or coming out now. They’re based in your own uneasiness with the subject and your desire to deny that sexual violence is this prevalent in the world or that your favorite man in the world couldn’t have done something like that. Because, surprise, they can and they do. It is not uncommon for abusers to be charming and nice and have a lot of friends AND  abuse women. Abusers aren’t monsters. They aren’t evil. They are everyday dudes that take advantage of their privilege and power and harm others.

Why does sexual violence continue to exist? There are so many reasons why sexual violence exists and what causes, leads to, aids, or perpetuates the victimization of women and children. Rape culture exists because of patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and the objectification and dehumanization of people. Anytime there are power structures at play, there is vulnerability for sexual violence. Anytime there is a space where a system of oppression exists, there is going to be sexual violence. Why? Because women have historically been seen as less-than and existing for the sole purpose of male pleasure. This is one of the many problems with patriarchy and rape culture. Blaming victims for their own victimization, not holding perpetrators accountable, the lack of prison sentences and legal justice for survivors, and purity culture all help sexual violence to continue to occur and in silencing survivors.

The world simultaneously tells women they are weak and not supposed to have power, while also making them responsible for the actions of the men around them — effectively giving them the kind of power that results in their own victimization because its so ridiculous. This idea also takes agency away from men (not to mention the women). This results in an idea that men cannot control themselves and they are not responsible for their own behaviors. Men deserve better. They have agency and power, we can ask for more.

Toxic masculinity that tells men they can’t be vulnerable, but must exert power and force over others rather than being emotionally intelligent, communicative human beings means leaves them stunted. It leaves them unable to experience empathy, compassion, or connect emotionally with others. It leaves them constantly running from themselves and their fears and desires, and their egos fragile and shattered. It tells them they have to sleep with women or take advantage of them to be a real man. But that’s all bullshit, y’all. We need to ask more of our men because we believe they’re capable of more and they deserve more.  We need to create spaces for them to feel safe to grow and learn how to be whole human beings. And we need to stop demanding so much of our women, constantly telling them they are too much. We need to create spaces for women to be fully themselves and support them to be healthy and whole human beings.

We need to stop objectifying and dehumanizing people. This means seeing people for their beautiful humanness. This means not spewing hatred for those who are different than us. This means advocating for rights for all people, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, creed, etc. Any time there is a power structure, there is abuse. Its based in our own fear, our own ignorance, and how own depravity.

Healing from sexual violence is hard. Its long, arduous work. And it looks different for everyone because every story and person is different. Everyone goes at a different pace. You can’t rush it. You must be kind to yourself, all of the parts of you, while undergoing treatment. If that means sharing your story of abuse during this season of reckoning, go for it, I am proud of you. If it means staying away from the news for a while, go for it, I am proud of you. You know what you need better than anyone else. But sometimes it takes time to figure out what that is and what that looks like. Sometimes a therapist can help you sort through that and advocate for you, reminding you of your goodness and courage and constantly giving you back your choice and agency. I hope you know that I believe you. I am hear for you. I will continue to fight for you and advocate for you.

I have so many more thoughts on this topic, but that’s enough for you. I apologize for the lack of cohesiveness or organization of this, but my own trauma leaves me a little chaotic. So here I am and here are some words.

Be kind to yourself. Listen to what your body is telling you. Sexual violence is no joke and it comes hand in hand with other forms of oppression so we have to fight to combat those, too. We can’t have a world free of sexual violence without ending racism and everything else too.

Keep breathing. Keep living. Keep loving.

I am thankful for you and your voices.

 

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GET MY EXCLUSIVE GUIDE TO SHAME FREE LIVING!

Begin harnessing your inner strength rather than being enslaved to shame, self-criticism, and doubt.

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