Tag Archives: #MeToo

SILENCE BREAKERS START A MOVEMENT

By Joann Castle  12/9/17

Last night, a headline in the Washington Post noted: “Scandal costs three congressmen their jobs this week. The last time something like this happened,” the article continued, “it was over slavery.” Women are rising up in a spontaneous movement, demanding respect and restitution from men across our country. The #Me Too movement has brought them out of the shadows of long covered-up anger, pain and shame and on their feet to say that they aren’t going to take it anymore.

TIME magazine has named the Silence Breakers as its 2017 Person of the Year. It is a time of reckoning for men who have regarded women as inferior, objects and toys for their pleasure. And it’s not just about celebrities, the power of #Me Too has taken hold in the halls of Congress, in the workplace and I guarantee you, in many homes.

Rising movements aren’t pretty. They are chaotic and clumsy as they strive to find their way towards a better outcome for the common good. As we watch the chaos unfold, we realize that a lot of things about it are not fair. The world was not fair to Anita Hill. It is also not fair to compare Al Franken’s misdeeds to Roy Moore or to that person who sits in the oval office, but in these types of movements, passion rules. At the moment we are confused but if we work at it, leadership and a more just process will emerge.

Will there be a backlash? Yes, there will and many of the Silence Breakers and their allies will be hurt. But that hurt is lessened if we stand behind their shoulder or at their side. This is how cultural change occurs. We need to stand with the Silence Breakers and others, both male and female, who are victims of gender, race and identity crimes. If we are complacent, this powerful moment will be lost. If we are vigilant, this spontaneous movement may become a strategic movement for lasting change.

Most of the damage to date has been to men who had enough conscience to feel ashamed. But the wave is beginning to wash wider to other prominent men. Echoing a previous blog on this topic, I am asking, where are the good men of conscience who will back up our brave Silence Breakers and women who speak on their behalf. These women include Nikki Haley, American ambassador to the United Nations, who said that women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct should be heard, which is counter to the administration’s position.

Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, also publically said that the President’s accusers should be heard and stood tall even as the president personally lashed back at her with a demeaning, disgusting tweet.

Gender rights is a broad topic and its potential scope is not limited to sexual harassment. Women are reclaiming their time to speak in the workplace and demanding equal pay for equal work. Women deserve to be respected for their thinking, their talents, their hard work and their contributions to society. #Me Too is a gender equality issue. Like all social injustices, this can’t be won without broad and sustained support. Make your voices heard, run for office, organize in your communities, support your domestic abuse shelters. Stand beside your courageous co-workers and vote for candidates who support gender equality.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

Coming soon… there is some promising movement in getting this to print.

I invite you to “follow” my blog by clicking on the follow button at the top right. You will receive notices of new posts and can keep updated on my book publication timeline.

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 Please note that my blog may be down over the holidays while I take a break to fix some links that are not working. I’m looking forward to starting anew in 2018. See you then. Joann

 

FROM “#ME TOO” TO “YOU, ALSO.” GOOD MEN MUST SPEAK OUT

The timing of the recent “Women’s Convention” and the excellent choice of content by the women of color who led it, is deeply relevant to our daily lives. This alignment to women’s lives today has inspired me to write a number of blogs on topics discussed at the conference.

One of those topics is sexual harassment. “#Me too” is a movement created by Tarana Burke serving to empower women through empathy. Burke was joined by actress Rose McGowan who kicked off a panel discussion titled “Fighting for Survivors of Sexual Assault.”

It is notable that it took more than a decade before #MeToo spilled out into the public consciousness. It was only this past October when white women began using #MeToo on social media that sexual harassment became a social concern. I say this understanding that any woman, who publicly speaks out, puts themselves at risk. This is a problem for all of us. But let’s be clear, black and brown women and women of color have been repeatedly raped by white men throughout our history as a country.

It was so heartening when one man on the convention panel reflected on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in American culture. “This is nothing new,” he said. “But it is time for this conversation to come out in the open. Ours has been a culture of rape ever since the very first European boat arrived on America’s shores.” There was an audible pause from the audience followed by shouts of appreciation and plenty of tears as women internalized that it was not their fault that our culture developed this way. Thinking back, we know the history of the founding of our nation and the venereal diseases that were spread among the native population. But this man’s words connected the dots, and absolved some of the guilt women often feel about allowing ourselves to be trapped in untenable situations. It was then that I began thinking how important it is for men to become allies in our #MeToo movement.

Today, I am asking: Where is the courage of our men to add their voices to this cry for an adjustment to our social norms? It will take the actions of men as well as women, to move us forward. I believe that it is time for men of good conscience to step forward and add their voices. When I first put the accompanying photo on Facebook, one woman commented: “Men do not understand.” I don’t believe that is true of all men. I was married to a man who forcefully spoke out against sexual abuse of women in the black power movement back in 1972. I believe there are a lot of good men who respect women but are complacent in speaking out as they observe women being abused, not only physically but verbally, because they are concerned about backlash.

Yes, there will be a backlash to those men who step forward on our behalf. But we need our men to be as brave as our women and speak out. We need the courage of men who do understand to help us change the sexual norms of abuse and degradation of women in our society. Where are our good men and how can we support their voices? If we are to make social change, we must do it together. What are you going to do, the next time you observe sexual harassment?

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

By Joann Castle   Coming soon…

I invite you to “follow” my blog by clicking on the follow button at the top right. You will receive notices of new posts and can keep updated on my book publication timeline.

Thanks for reading!