I too, have been following the #metoo-movement…
I appreciate that this seems to have a healing effect for some (many?) people. And I appreciate that there are debates, discussions, conversations starting all around, that are valuable and needed. However, there is something here that doesn’t sit well with me.
In the beginning I read, that part of the intention of sharing the #metoo is to show, that sexual harassment isn’t an individual problem but a systemic one. Showing how many people have experienced it in one form or another.
However, as the week went on, what seemed to become stronger and stronger is a polarizing narrative. And suddenly this is (again) about women vs men. (And I observed this even in posts by otherwise feminist, modern friends that in almost all other debate have an awareness for the use of language and gender.)
Neglecting anyone, who doesn’t fall in the category woman and passively accusing anyone who identifies as man.
This makes me sad. And angry.
Even if statistically more women are harassed than men: the thing about statistics is that they always present averages.
And the thing about stories is, that they are always personal, never an average.
And somehow in this debate I find a mix-up of these two very different approaches to humans (personal and statistical).
Humans with feelings, histories, needs to be heard, needs to be held and taken care of, of course.
If this really is about creating clarity around the systemic issue of sexual harassment, I see two issues:
One – to raise awareness and get support also from those who don’t fall into the #metoo-group, I think it doesn’t help to alienate some of them, by identifying them as an offender merely by sexual identity. I believe we’ll be much more able to support those, who need to be heard and held. And maybe we can create a space for the collective shame and hurt of all of us, who want to be able to support better, a discussion about what we all can do…
More importantly (and this has been a subject on my radar for a while now, so I’m linking other articles):
Two – I believe the systemic issue is actually about power-imbalance and boundaries. I believe, the issue starts not even in the ‘sexual’ part of harassment but in a larger (cultural) inability to notice and set boundaries effectively.
I believe, if we want to change something, we need to start a conversation about boundaries.
Where do they start? How do we sense them in others? How do we make them clear, when someone is in doubt?
Teaching children, that they don’t have to hug anyone they don’t want to hug – even if that person is a loved relative. Teaching our clients that they don’t have to endure anything they don’t want and can stop us, even as trusted practitioners. Supporting a friend dealing with social pressure, when they don’t want to go to a party or drink another beer.
Learning to notice when someone doesn’t reciprocate – in any kind of initiative; be that an invitation to the cinema, a kiss or a phone call. And then learn how to deal with the discomfort of rejection, instead of overcoming, pretending or numbing those.
Learning to notice and deal with power imbalances with confidence and integrity, rather than abusing it or surrendering.
Learning to interfere and speak up when we witness someone’s abuse of power.
Learning to notice and experience confidence and integrity as sources of strength and recognition, rather than searching for validation by forcing anything on someone else.
I think we should be outraged and raising awareness in all those cases of people patronizing, talking down to, belittling and not taking serious when someone says no.
And if that is even necessary to clarify… #metoo (by both men and women.)
Some articles and pieces of thought I appreciated this week:
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