I don’t want to see anyone “go down”.
I don’t like dredging up old hurts in my life or anyone else’s as a flag of victim hood.
I know a lot of amazing cis men.
I would be devastated if any of them were accused of a crime they did not commit.
I would also be devastated to learn that any of them had ever used the inherent and unspoken power of their gender in ways that hurt anyone.
I can’t honestly say that I would be surprised, though.
If that sentence gives you pause, please bear with me. I would not be surprised because we live in a culture that teaches (in both obvious and subtle ways) the oppression of the feminine. It is so deeply ingrained in us that it is not questioned.
The most dangerous form of oppression is one wherein the oppressed are literally in a prison that they actual believe is of their own creation.
Case in point: I was on the phone this morning with one of the most brilliant and powerful women I know. We were discussing an article I had asked her to read that called the #metoo movement a witchunt. She brought up this idea of a “fine line” and was recounting a story of our younger years—our club days—and particularly a night that a gorgeous powerful man in “the scene” invited (the very inebriated) her to his apartment and had her “smoke something”. The next thing she remembers is coming to consciousness as he was guiding her head to perform oral sex.
“But I was an idiot”, this most powerful and brilliant woman said to me over the phone this morning. “I never should have gone to his house drunk. I should have known better.”
She continued, telling me how now he has a wife he clearly adores and wondered if she should have “ruined his life” by coming out with this story.
That part is inconsequential to me.
The individuals on both sides of this movement are not the issue.
The issue is that we live in a society where a person can believe that assault of any kind is their fault.
I am going to take this a step further: I would take blame away from either party and put it on our culture.
What do we do then?
What do we do when we can’t just point our finger at a few men we deem as monsters who we can banish from their positions for perpetuity?
Therein lies the power of the #metoo movement as far as I am concerned.
We are now looking at so many men we had loved and looked up to and “felt safe” with that we can no longer pretend this is an issue about individual “monsters”.
This is an issue of gender and misogyny. A deeply ingrained training that it is time for us to heal collectively.
For this reason I would ask that we take a moment before we focus on the individuals or are moved to look away by calling this phenomenon a “witchhunt”.
What if, instead, we used this as an opportunity to learn and grow and change this ailing patriarchy? Let’s recognize that men are suffering because of misogyny, too, and that both genders would benefit from transforming this sick and dysfunctional culture.
Earlier I made the statement that the most dangerous form of imprisonment is one where an innocent prisoner feels responsible for being imprisoned. Even more dangerous is the form where the prisoner feels that this is a prison of their choosing. We can see this one quite obviously in the case of women (and men) who will tell you what their bodies should look like based on external societal programming.
The same syndrome (in a very different form) can also be true of cis men in this patriarchal system where they are programmed to believe that this kind of power is something that benefits them and is a box they would like to keep themselves safely nestled within. However, this is the same box that makes it not OK for them to cry/express their emotions and puts an enormous amount of pressure on them to succeed and provide in the ways that our culture has deemed to be important. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for men to have a different, possibly more healthy, relationship with themselves and the world.
What I am hoping to illustrate here is that when there is an imbalance in one area, it affects all of us. If our culture is out of balance, it’s not just out of balance for some.
What if we allowed ourselves to endure the discomfort of this time and these stories, not to seek one person or one group to blame, but to use this as the opportunity to teach our children and ourselves a new way of being?
We are witnessing the collapse of an unsustainable system. Unsustainable because by its nature it harms people. Ultimately, harming others is simply not sustainable.
Collapses can look ugly and change can be uncomfortable.
Especially when there is resistance to changing ways of being, no matter how unhealthy they may be.
Change requires each of us to take an inventory and, from the awareness that produces, find a place of hope that we can move forward from this kind of past so that we can create a better future.
This is challenging and it is hard work. Let’s please take care of ourselves and each other through it.
In closing this ramble of thoughts inspired by an article and an early morning phone call with an old friend, I would like to apologize to anyone I’ve left out of this conversation and for any point I made that seems heavy handed or without compassion. These are just my thoughts… and the truth is that I would not think to make them public without the “nudge” of the fierce and fiery Chloé Jo Davis who has always been a catalyst, pushing me to come out of my shell.
If anything I’ve written resonates and is helpful in anyway, I am grateful.
If it is not, please continue the conversation and include your thoughts.
Please try to be kind.
This is a vulnerable time for so many of us. It would behoove us to build each other up rather than to tear each other down.
Each of us doing the very best we can with what we know.
Maybe it’s time to know more and do better.
Let’s all of us do better.
Rachael Smith is a holistic wellness and energy medicine practitioner and educator with clients and students around the globe. For wellness tips and no-BS inspiration, follow her on instagram @rachaelsmithwellness For direct info, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
cover image via Anna Bodnar Photography