There is a zeitgeist right now of epic proportions that has had me feeling very empowered and hopeful…until today. In only a matter of weeks since Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace, there has been a wave of accusations of sexual assault and misconduct by powerful men all over this country-I don’t think this is news to you. But today I heard a man sum it all up by saying, “This is women’s way of getting back for their inequality for all these years.” I wanted to scream at him, “You don’t see the point! That thinking is part of the problem! YOU are being part of the problem!” Once I calmed down and forgave his ignorance I wanted to ‘correct’ his thinking, but instead thought to myself, “Maybe some women think this way too.” Maybe some women are feeling overly justified and righteous these days. I can see how that is possible. Never before has this issue been such an open talking point (thank god it finally is). But that’s all it is right now; a talking point-a jumping off place to have this difficult conversation. If this creates an environment that feels safer and more accepting for victims of sexual assault, both female and male, to come forward and can help to reduce this ingrained and insidious behavior, then it may even reach into addressing the spiraling issue of bullying. Really, any form of abuse could be slowed by this new conversation our country is having. But we don’t want it to divide us.
This is not an attack on men. This is not women wearing the label of “victim.” This is not about any group against another group. For us as individuals, this is about overcoming justified fears about being victimized in order to speak the truth. And for us as a society it is about creating an environment of safety and support so that this form of intimidation that preys on people’s weakness will be a rare exception to the long-held rule. And believe me, as a feminist in the truest sense of the word (may I remind you; "the advocacy of women's rights based on equality of the sexes"-which helps EVERYONE,....I digress), I am excited about the awareness being raised and the platform it seems like everyday women now have for this conversation. But we can’t lose sight of the real problem and risk not seeing the forest for the trees. If we get caught in some false notion of generalizing and vilifyng ALL men like they are dogs, we only encourage the separation that has divided the sexes for all of time and add more fear to our environment. We need to do the opposite. While we do need to reject any form of harassment and bullying, we also need to embrace signs of caring and love from everyone-including men.
As women, we need to love our men- our fathers, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, friends-including gay male friends, neighbors, and yes, even the masculine in ourselves. Because we are all both male and female, if we practice turning away all things masculine, we invariably end up turning away the masculine in ourselves. Part of a woman’s strength is bringing community together and for too long, men in our societies have been notorious for fracturing that community both on our streets and in our government. We can be a tall, proud and graceful light house; a guiding light standing firm in her beliefs, leading by example and accepting those who want to live the same way and might still need to be show the way. Now there is a loud and blaring call for women to come together, to be strong in an age where our female strength is becoming more and more accepted and do what we do best by truth telling and bringing people together.