Three weeks ago I wrote a controversial opinion piece on the value and dangers of a #MeToo culture. Today the New York Times ran a front page article with he same important message…that it’s not all good.
As the biggest actors and activists walk the Golden Globe’s red carpet dressed in black, I urge all women to read this article and weigh in on finding the balance between taking the power back whilst and avoiding the pitfalls of making women feel powerless.
Here is the NY Time article and mine below. Let us know what you think!
It was time.
For any women who has walked into a meeting with a man and felt uncomfortable because she didn’t just need to know her “stuff” but felt her “stuff” was the focus of the meeting, it was time.
Perhaps since the beginning of time, women have been put in awkward situations where in order to keep their job or not be “offensive” to a colleague or superior they felt the need to learn the art of politely deflecting the unwanted sexual advances hurled their way. Sometimes unsuccessfully.
In order for there to be a collective attitudinal shift, the titans of the old ways of thinking must fall on their exposed swords.
They need to be publically brought to their knees and made examples of so that society at large wakes up to the fact that change has come; Men can no longer get away with making sexual advances (or worst) on women in the workplace and get away with it.
It was time.
There is a safety in numbers, a safety most women have never felt before. Finally women feel comfortable coming forward with their own stories of being the target of inappropriate behavior and sometimes- inexcusable gross sexual abuse and misconduct.
A new understanding that we will finally be protected for our honesty and the guilty will fall, when for so long it was the other way around. In the past many women felt it was too risky to speak out- that the fat cats would be protected by the very establishments they insulted with their actions.
I’m certainly not against this change, I embrace it. But I do worry about what’s going on right now…
The problem with change is that the pendulum must swing to the extreme in order to end up in the middle. And sometimes good men fall beside guilty men as a new order is ushered in.
A #metoo culture has it’s strength, but it also has it’s weaknesses, it’s blindness, it’s vulnerability to abuse.
When a man who sexually assaults a woman in his hotel room is put in the very same category as a man who made an inappropriate sexual joke ten years ago at a Holiday party or on set, there is a problem which threatens to undermine the very change we’re seeking.
We must look at our own response to their advances and not only shape a culture where men know this behavior is no longer tolerated, but shape a culture where women feel empowered enough to say “no” to being invited into a hotel room in the first place.
We must look at our own response to their advances and not only shape a culture where men know this behavior is NO longer tolerated, but shape women to feel empowered enough to say “NO” to an invitation to his hotel room in the first place.
It’s appropriate that the media and society support the brave women who are coming forward with tales of how they found themselves in situations that were a blatant abuse of power and felt they had to succumb or risk their careers.
Our respect and support should also go out to the countless women who found themselves in those same compromizing situations and made the decision not to succumb, knowing full well that it would hurt their careers.
However, our respect and support should also go out to the countless women who found themselves in those same compromizing situations and made the decision not to succumb, knowing full well that it would hurt their careers, that they won’t land that TV role, that they likely wouldn’t get that promotion, that they might even get fired.
They are no less victims of sexual misconduct, though it not be physical. Their fortitude of character to reject these powerful men when possible (and I certainly know it wasn’t always physically possible), to the detriment of their own ambition or financial security is worth celebrating and spotlighting.
We women must make sure we’re not using this new power as a platform for revenge, career advancement, fame or to merely get 100 more likes on Instagram.
As we step into this exciting new era of female freedom, I hope we take our critical thinking with us and assess each accusation with isolated clarity so we can determine what really happened before a person is found guilty by suspicion. We must leave some room for humanity, for perhaps a misguided compliment on our appearance or look. We can’t make the mistake of lumping all men into the “sexual deviant” category, striping them of the livelihoods and dignity.
Let’s save that for the men who have done that to women. Let us women be fairer to society than society has been to us, let us look at the facts.
It is time.