Disclaimer: While I’m one of the most positive people you could ever want to meet, I feel very strongly about this topic and there is very little positivity that can be put forth in relation to it. The best I can offer is that our awareness is rising, and – as dark as it is right now – there is hope for a better future. I also am deeply appreciative of Positively Positive for providing a platform to speak of these things, and for their bravery to allow this light to shine on such an important and provocative issue.
Like so many other women lately, I’ve been glued to the outpouring of articles related to the #MeToo Campaign
While I’m on board, I can’t help but think, “WOW – here we are in 2017, talking about sexual harassment like it’s a new thing.” And while I know that’s not exactly true, it sure doesn’t feel like we have come very far.
You see, I have a history in this arena. Back in the early 80s I was a women’s studies major at San Francisco State University, and I’m proud to say that one of my professors and advisors was the political activist, academic, and author Angela Davis.
Then in college I couldn’t get enough of feminist theory, and I learned a tremendous amount about sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and all of the other horrible experiences that women fall victim to because of their gender.
And then there’s the fact that I have been a victim of sexual violence and harassment, as well. Without offering up any gritty details, let me just say “#metoo.”
Move forward now to 2017 and the “Harvey Weinstein effect.”
The outing of the Hollywood producer’s lecherous activities is having a big impact on women all over the world. We feel validated because suddenly the spotlight is on men like him, shining on the actions that they’d prefer stayed in the shadows. They can’t hide anymore. Even though the abuse and harassment continue, the awareness of it is growing, our consciousness is shifting, and the wrongness of it all is settling in
I’m grateful that so many have come forward to share their stories of this man who has used his position of power for decades to get away with coercing and manipulating women. Regardless of whether they rejected him, or compromised their values for the sake of their career, these women did not feel safe to come out until now.
With the prevalence of victim shaming when it comes to speaking up about abuse, it’s no wonder that they don’t feel safe to come forward. But when someone else says it first, it provides a legitimacy and validity to their experience. This is just as it happened with the Bill Cosby allegations. And they all say the same thing: there is safety in numbers.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law, and yet it happens every day.
Back when I was a women’s studies major three decades ago… and now.
This is not “new” news, and quite frankly I feel both mad and sad that people are only just beginning to wake up to this. Why? It has been going on for so long! And what is it going to take to stop it?
There is a new book out by Gretchen Carlson called Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back. Not only has she written about this topic, but Carlson is planning to go in front of Congress to try and change the laws about sexual harassment. We cannot yet know what is going to come of this action, but any action at this point is a step in the right direction.
– I want to live in a world of equality.
-I want women to stop apologizing for speaking up about their trauma.
-I want women to state the sharp facts of their experience without softening the edges.
Whenever I watched victims of the Weinstein scandal interviewed on CNN, they all made sure to mention that sexual harassment happens to women and men.
They had to make sure that everyone was included.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that sometimes a female boss will harass a male employee, or a gay man will come on to a straight man in the workplace, but let’s be clear about something. According to this study, it was shown that 80% of women are harassed in the workplace. Eighty percent. Male victims of such harassment were a mere 17-20%.
The comparison isn’t even close.
So why does the issue at hand have to be so softened and inclusive?
Why can’t women just talk about their experiences without having to discuss the sexual harassment that happens to men, as well?
The problem is overwhelmingly ours, so why must we share the stage with the very ones who are the cause?
While I do not believe that women should become heartless, I have to say that this inclusion feels far too much like “taking care of the men” when we should be tending to our own wounds.
I don’t want to minimize or deny male victims’ experiences.
But I do want to emphasize that women are diminishing themselves by being so inclusive, as their story is forced to share the stage with another.
I want to emphasize how women are harassed every day in the workplace, and do not hold the same amount of power (or receive the same amount of pay) that men do.
And I want to emphasize that harassment statistics are stacked inordinately on the women’s side of the scale.
So I will continue to stand up and bring consciousness to this issue.
As someone who has experienced sexism, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and homophobia throughout my life, I see the importance of shining a light into this darkness that so many prefer to ignore.
My hope is that women a decade or two from now do not have to feel like me, looking back and feeling discouraged that the needle has scarcely moved on this issue.
My hope is that the next generation will not consist of millions of women who have to come together and cry, “Me too!”
My hope is for them to look back, shake their heads at the insanity of it all, and take pride in how far they have come.
What are your thoughts on the #metoo movement?
What steps do you think should be taken to improve this issue?
I welcome your feedback below.
Laura Fenamore, Body Image Expert, Coach and acclaimed Author is on a mission to help women around the world end the constant battle with their bodies and start adoring who they see in the mirror. Her approach walks students and readers through the heartfelt journey to self-love at any size or age by unlocking the secrets to a lifetime of emotional, physical and spiritual health. After overcoming a lifelong battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released 100 pounds – keeping it off for more than 28 years. She chronicles this journey to self-love and health in her widely acclaimed book, Skinny, Fat, Perfect: Love Who You See in the Mirror. Learn more about Laura’s programs, or invite her to speak by visiting SkinnyFatPertect.com.
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