By Doris Deits
Social media has allowed millions of women to express their pain and anguish of sexual abuse and its many forms. Their combined voices have created an avalanche of momentum that is crushing the walls of denial that our society has held up for so long.
As I watch the #MeToo movement unfold, I am reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Women all over the world are demanding their freedom from the oppression of sexual assault, harassment and inequality. Women are demanding their basic human rights. Can I hear an Amen, sister!
However, to realize and achieve this freedom, men in this country must change at a fundamental level. Not just their behaviors, but their deeply held negative attitudes and beliefs toward women in general.
One has to wonder if that goal is even possible given the enormity of the problem before us.
I believe it’s inevitable and the destiny of humanity. Getting there is just a matter of time.
Men and self-reflection, men and feelings, men and empathy. These things don’t typically go together, but our evolution requires it. The time has come for men to embrace their feminine side, and yes, they all have one.
In fact, one could argue the outer expression of abusive attitudes toward women is merely the reflection of men’s inner repression and hatred towards their own feminine aspects.
Let’s take a moment to consider our deeply held beliefs that women are evil, liars, inferior, less than, not as good, not as strong, not as competent, not as smart, not as important, not as valuable. These accepted brainwashed attitudes are so deeply woven into the fabric of humanity they become invisible to our awareness and are not recognized until they reach an extreme expression.
These are the insidious thoughts that shape and mold our interactions with other people, creating the basis for rationalizing our poor behaviors. These are the building blocks used by people of power and influence to justify the importance of their needs above all others.
Even women can be captivated by this inherent brainwashing. Take Condolezza Rice’s recent CNN interview for example.
In her comments regarding sexual misconduct within government, she makes the statement, “I don’t know a woman alive who hasn’t had somebody say or do something that wasn’t inappropriate at best and aggressive at worst.” Later in that interview, she says she’s nervous society could “get to a place that men start to think, ‘Well maybe it’s just better not to have women around.'”
By saying this, Ms. Rice demonstrates her agreement to allow sexually demeaning behavior – to make sure men will continue to let women in the workplace.
Each of us has seeds of negativity toward women planted within our psyche, but they don’t need to dictate our actions. We also have seeds of freedom, courage, change and possibilities. We just need to reach for them, making an effort to challenge and replace the negative programming with ideas of acceptance and appreciation for women.
There are already many men in this country who can see the problem and are at the forefront of this new age of new attitudes.
Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune wrote his views in an October article: “Men need to ask themselves how are they going to change the way they THINK and FEEL about women. How are they going to unbrainwash themselves?”
Huppke takes it a step further: “We as men haven’t done anywhere near enough to police our own gender and make this behavior unacceptable.…Every one of us needs to take a deep look at how we treat and have treated women, and how we react to the ways other men treat women.…We need to do everything we can to make it stop.…Calling out other men takes courage.”
Lastly, he even makes this a pragmatic argument: “Fiscally speaking, we have a more productive society without traumatized citizens. Trauma debilitates humans and creates a heavy burden for society to carry.”
We can all do something to help create the necessary societal changes in attitudes toward women. By thinking about the future and how much better our lives would be if women were afforded equality in the human rights department.
Plant new seeds that recognize all the beauty, creativity, and positive things women bring to the world. Women have equal value to men and we all need each other. Then share your vision with everyone you know.