With all the talk about Harvey Weinstein, I feel compelled to write about sexism in our current culture. And I’d like to state that while I know women are not the only victims in these types of cases, this post will be from an unapologetically female perspective. I also know it isn’t new age-y. In fact it is quite old. Sexist attitudes back in the day were blatant and generally accepted. Today it exists in a different, quiet way. An energetic way. A way that is difficult to confront as it has become tolerated. But it looks like America is finally ready to talk about it. Or so I hope.
When met with voices that say that sexism (or really insert just about any -ism) is alive and well, I’m surprised by how many don’t see it or don’t see it as a problem. Just because sexist comments aren’t spoken openly in most common settings, doesn’t mean the feelings they were born from are gone. That energy is alive and well and it can manifest at any time to its fullest potential when harnessed by someone who believes they are untouchable.
All of the ism’s are about power. About people who feel they have a right to full control over every situation including other people in the situation. The biggest perpetrators seem to usually be the most insecure people or the most self absorbed. Any person in their right mind knows that real power does not come at the expense of another. Truly powerful people are not threatened by someone else’s strength or independence. And they do not threaten others who are not strong or are not free to make their own choices.
But we are not talking about truly powerful people. We are talking about people like Harvey Weinstein who think their money affords them privileges that don’t exist. Like the right to require the bonus of sexual favors from female cast members. Of course, as this comes out, everyone is on the same page that this is wrong. Most seemed unsurprised. A few even said it and got a bunch of grief for it. But who really was surprised?
I think it is safe to say there wasn’t a woman in the world who was surprised by this event. Even those women with no idea who Harvey Weinstein is. And I am sure there are those that agree with my assumption above yet still don’t see sexism as a real problem. And that’s without mentioning that those actresses who were harassed or assaulted by this disgrace of a man were also paid way less than their male co-stars for the trouble. I’d be willing to wager no one is surprised by that either. It is just the way it is. Right?
Apparently. I mean the leader of our nation believed an appropriate response to sexual assault allegations was to make a joke of it saying, “she would not be my first choice.” As good as saying we can discredit a woman’s accusation by her looks. Like that is how assault works. It was an irresponsible, condescending and asinine statement that I would have gladly smacked him in the teeth for if I was his mamma. But hey, it got some cheers. Maybe even from some women. Presumably good looking women who have never been assaulted. But still, it isn’t his fault things are this way nor is it the fault of anyone who cheered. They are just perpetuating and giving a face to what has been existing around us all along.
While it is heartbreaking hearing so very many of versions of the same horrible story, all of this attention is giving women a platform to speak up and speak out. And that is a good thing. This issue needs a stronger voice because sexism, like all the other ism’s, thrives in silence and is destroyed by the light. That silence is now broken and now it’s time to bring the noise. Because, yeah, it’s better than it was in a lot of ways but we still have a ways to go. If not for ourselves, then for our daughters.
Do not be afraid to tell your story if you’ve been suffering in silence. Though also do not feel pressured to tell your story if you are not ready. Sometimes in sharing, you become the voice for those who cannot speak. I know it isn’t easy. It requires some painful truths to dealt with inside and out. And to those men in the media calling this all a “witch hunt” – sorry fellas. We know how hot it is in the flames. Haven’t you heard? “We are the granddaughters of the witches they could not burn.” And we will be the grandmothers of the women who know their own power and worth and the men who know how to respect that.
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