This week you may have noticed, as I have, the #metoo hashtag that took social media by storm. We’re not the only ones that noticed. I’ve seen a few blog posts as a result. In fact, I’m writing my thoughts in response to one.
I don’t think anyone will argue that there are individuals (largely men) who target women. Nor am I willing to argue that our world and culture has magically become just and fair and equal for all when no one was looking.
What I do want to consider is how we are responding to it.
The article to which I am responding pointed out that emphasizing the negative ways in which women are being treated may actually be shutting women and girls down. Some are reacting to the narrative by staying indoors unless the sun is up. Others tend to encounter roadblocks on their personal path to success and give up because they believe they have hit their glass ceiling and they are not strong enough to fight the current establishment.
On the other side of the spectrum are the militants who believe that by striking back with protests and possibly more, they will force the establishment to accept guilt and change its ways. Personally, I have found that the old adage “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” is a truth about human nature. If someone (or a group of someones) doesn’t see a problem with the way things currently are, then the protests are simply going to be proof that a discontented minority have a problem. Legislation will leave those same people searching for loopholes because a crazy law got crammed down their throats.
In either scenario, the “victim” (because not everything that happens in life rates the status of victim) surrenders power to the nameless, faceless “them” who are opposing their progress and dignity.
My Thoughts on a Solution
- As much as we can, we need to tone down the over-sexualization of our culture. We have members of our society who are trying to determine the gender identity of children before they are even in kindergarten! We have advertising empires built upon the mantra “sex sells.” I fear that we, through our entertainment choices and other selections in life, are setting the example for our children that “sex is the meaning of life.” Sure, sex is a wonderful part of life, but there are many other wonderful things to experience and become! We need to embrace those pastimes and values — it will allow us to humanize each other again.
- As we raise our children, we can teach them to protect themselves from those who will break the rules of society and harm them — but we need to be careful to let our children know that those individuals are the minority. As a teacher, I have taught children who are afraid of almost everything and who expect bad things to be in store for them. Since my career was spent teaching 4-11 year-olds, this is pretty sad. I do not advocate pretending that the bad doesn’t exist — it does, and leaving our children unprepared is unconscionable — but we need to present the bad in perspective with all the good that is out there.
- We need to set the example. If we don’t want our boys to see women as nothing but objects of pleasure, then we need our boys and girls to see us treating women with respect and firmly but politely standing up for anyone who is being treated less than respectfully. We need to avoid filling our homes with media and other examples of women as objects of pleasure. We also need to be women of power and support women of power who are willing to work outside of the “establishment” to prove that common knowledge and practice are wrong. We need to create and support women-led businesses and initiatives. We need to celebrate boys and girls equally in their accomplishments. We need to think before we simply compliment Jenny as being pretty and David for being strong. Those are not bad compliments, but we need to be sure that our encouragements are balanced and really speak to the child’s (or adult’s) true skills and efforts. We need to internalize and model that someone else succeeding isn’t diminishing us, it’s encouraging us that we can succeed, too.
In the end, I agree that we have problems in our modern society, especially when it comes to things like sexuality, gender, and ethnicity (and many other topics too numerous to list here). My position is that we need to think carefully about how we are trying to solve these problems because we don’t want to increase the problem through our examples and rhetoric — we want to empower everyone to be their very best.
So, I’ve expressed my opinions on current events. What are your thoughts? (Remember, I expect comments to be civil, thoughtful, and respectful. We can all agree to disagree.)