These words have been swirling inside me for a while, and this post sat as a draft for a few weeks, but today’s announcement of Time Magazine’s person of the year pushed me to come back and finish this post.
I can get used to a world where men, especially men in power, are being held accountable for their actions. It’s promising, and it’s hopeful and it signifies a true turning point. I knew that the election of #45 would spark change. It was the only thing that made sense to me at the time. And it’s the only thing I still hold on to. He is a catalyst for change and how lovely that he will live on as the symbol for when Women finally stood up and said, no fucking more.
This is for the silence breakers
I shared some of my #metoo last year in an article submission on Rebelle Society. At the time, it was written out of sheer exhaustion and frustration for the lack of accountability that was taken when the tapes emerged of our now president mocking how he sexually assaults women.
When allegations first came out about Louis CK and then about Senator Franken I saw a lot of shocked reactions, mostly from men, about how they never would have believed so and so would behave that way. I’ve seen a lot of women saying the same about Matt Lauer. You know why that is? Because sexual harassment is a normal occurrence.
In fact, it’s so normalized that even women have a hard time seeing certain behavior for what it is because we deal with it literally all the time. Looks, comments, judgements, groping, leering, jokes – it’s all part of every day life. When predator behavior is normalized and women are seen as objects to be had, it inevitably raises the bar on when to report egregious behavior or assault.
If you find yourself questioning the validity of victims claims, the sheer volume of accusations, the timing, or the potential motives behind so many accusations, it’s because that’s how you’ve been conditioned to think. If you find yourself shocked by some of the men who are being revealed for the predators that they are (and have been for a long time) it’s because this kind of treatment towards women has become accepted, normalized, and ingrained in our society.
These men don’t act alone, especially men in prominent and powerful positions. Their environments are carefully constructed and their behavior is very often protected and hidden from view. Organizations believe the perceived value ($$) the predators bring to an organization is far more important than the victims they prey on.
So much to lose, and not much to gain. Even in these cases where women are coming forward in droves, we’ve yet to see anyone actually be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is in part how the media often reports on these incidents and refers to it as inappropriate behavior instead of calling it what it is: criminal behavior. We are taught to downplay these issues right off the bat. The language that we use to describe it quells the fire before it’s even started. There are countless examples of this in our society, too many to name.
The oppression and brutalization of women has become normalized, and this is exactly what has stopped women from coming forward.
Fear of physical safety, fear of not being believed, fear of judgement, fear of losing their job, fear of humiliation, fear of loss of relationships as a result and the list goes on. Oh, you can also factor in if the accuser has a wife and family because that’s something women would likely consider as well before coming forward. We hold this fear literally in our DNA. It has been inherited down over hundreds and thousands of years and it is very real. This is why the tears welled up in my eyes reading the Time Magazine article today.
What we are seeing now is the inherent power that women have when we come together. I can feel the momentum of energy that is swelling. It’s how I felt when I marched in January with my children. Powerful. We are changing the very fabric of this world with our clenched fists and trembling voices. We will not stay silent any more.
Welcome to the reckoning.