The purpose of this movement was undoubtedly to empower women, increase our awareness of this insidious behavior and encourage us to teach all, especially young boys and girls, about what is simply not acceptable. Now, we all must work to insure that it does not make women and girls ashamed of who they are and the experiences they have endured, and further traumatized!
This week we have been inundated with courageous women standing up and reporting their experience with sexual harassment and sexual assault following Harvey Weinstein being accused by a long list of women with sexual assault. For some, the number of women coming forward with accounts of assault, abuse or harassment is surprising. I would dare say for most women, it is not surprising at all. And for every woman standing up and telling her story, there are other courageous women carrying their story alone.
Truth is, women are acutely aware of the culture in our society that has made these actions by many men so common in our daily lives. Most, if not all women, have experienced this first hand. It is unfortunate, that many times men have been taught that this behavior is not only acceptable, but sometimes even expected, to fit in with other men. That said, chivalry is not dead! We should not ignore the fact that many men would never dream of treating women in a derogatory or demeaning way. In addition, there has been a major movement in the law to prevent these types of behaviors from happening. That said, it is not enough.
If you have been the recipient of degrading, sexual innuendo, advances, harassment and or assault you are in no way responsible for the behaviors of that other person. You should never have been put in a position of figuring out what to do about assault. You are not now, nor will you ever be, responsible for the actions of others. There is no need for guilt or shame, whether you put a stop to the behavior, reported it, or you “went along” due to fear or coercion. Whether you were too young, too inexperienced, simply did not understand what was happening, were coerced into “going along” or intimidated into not telling, you have no reason to feel guilty or ashamed for the actions of others. Furthermore, please know you do not “have” to tell your story publicly, that is 100 % your choice. If you choose to come forward, do so to empower yourself and empower others. Either way, it is your story and your choice what to do with it.
If you have ever been the perpetrator of unwanted sexualized behaviors in any way shape or form, you are responsible for your own behavior. That said, the best thing you can do is to learn, grow, understand and never do it again. If your behavior would not be acceptable in front of your mother, then it is not acceptable in front of your buddies either. It is highly unfortunate that many men have never been taught the proper treatment of other people, much less women and girls. If you are among those men, find a mentor, a man whom you respect and who understands how to treat others with respect and humility. If you find yourself unsure of what is acceptable and what is not, ask a woman I am certain she will be happy to tell you.
If you are a parent, a teacher, a coach or mentor in any way of young children, create a culture of learning and understanding of what it means to treat and be treated by others with the upmost respect and to revere our own rights and those of others. Let us all take a role in teaching young girls it is good to stand up for themselves in ALL WAYS, and teach young boys what is appropriate and what is not. Aren’t we all sick and tired of the lives of young men and women being ruined and innocence and trust forever taken by ignorant and sickening behavior that young men are often never taught that it is unacceptable.