After #metoo... What's Next?
We may very well be in a change moment that won’t recede into the background so quickly. The uncountable amount of courageous women and brave men who have signaled their common experience of sexual harassment, assault and abuse by saying #metoo signals a volume of voices not heard before. Part of me feels like we have been here before, with headlines and exposes of a celebrity or well known person accused of sexual or domestic violence, lighting up our social feeds and hotlines. Our counselor advocates answer the calls, 24/7, listening to victim/survivors reaching out to tell, to counsel, to remember, to heal.
Reporters line up asking the same question, “how come women don’t speak up at the time these incidents happen?” Over and over, this is the question. Why don’t women tell?? The assumption is that if only the victim had come forward and told right away maybe there would be less doubt as to their veracity. NOT. The level of denial and victim blaming has shamefully overpowered and silenced those survivor voices. Until now. After 40 years of Take Back the Nights, after all the Clothesline Projects, after so many V-Days and Denim Days, after the No Mores and Emily Doe, survivors are reporting abuse from every kind of workplace, every profession, from the streets and transit, from within relationships and families, from every crack in the wall of rape culture. The courage to tell out loud is contagious right now. This time the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. We must make sure of that.
So where do we go after “Me Too?” Will it be possible to change the narrative of a thousand years that has doubted the persistent, historical and systematized traumatic experiences suffered by so many? What is the new narrative? What are the new questions? Will we be brave enough to name male violence and its power over privileges as the cause of most of the violence? Can we really name toxic masculinity as a disease and look for the cure? Dare we dream of a healthy, pro-social manhood that young boys can grow up into? What are the practices to get us there?
Our practice at Peace Over Violence involves ENGAGING MEN and our YOUTH OVER VIOLENCE projects training boys to become healthy men and educating and developing violence prevention leadership. A major practice would be the voices of ALL men rising to challenge the status quo of sexism, misogyny, racism and all the linked oppressions. It is time or even overtime for men to challenge their gender to a higher calling. This call for men to be allies, upstanders and a credit to their gender is clarion. It's time for men to realize that male violence against women is a men’s issue. Your issue.
Gentlemen, yes I am talking to you, the women in the world and the women in your life cannot wait any longer. It’s time to stand up, speak up, step up. It’s time to use your warrior strength to open up, bear witness to our and your pain and experiences, and then take appropriate and loving action. The women in the world and the women in your life cannot wait any longer.