Friday, October 27, 2017

Women finding their voices

If you've been awake at all these past few weeks, you will have heard of the "Me too" movement. When victims of movie producer Harvey Weinstein began coming forward with their stories of his sexual abuse and harassment, social media exploded. In huge numbers, women came forward with their own stories of abuse not only in Hollywood but in every career field and venue imaginable. What courage this takes!

Women began posting on their social media profiles that they had been victimized, and they encouraged others to simply put the words, "Me too" in the comment box and on their profile pages. The idea is simply to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in our society—to get women (and men, too) to raise their hands and say they have been affected. As The Atlantic put it, "There's a monumental amount of work to be done in confronting a climate of serial sexual predation—one in which women are belittled and undermined and abused and sometimes pushed out of their industries altogether. But uncovering the colossal scale of the problem is revolutionary in its own right."

The problem of sexual predation is an old one and runs deep in our society. It has been allowed to continue because of shame and secrecy. Victims are afraid to come forward because they'll be re-victimized, whether that be in the media, in the court system, by police or even by friends and family. Years ago in my life as a journalist, I interviewed dozens of victims of clergy sexual abuse. I was amazed by the number of church leaders and also church members who defended the abusive clergy and who blamed the victims. "She must've led him on." I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that! Abuse is never all right. 

It's time for all this to stop. We women are finding our voices. That is powerful! We need to support and encourage each other in this. We need to empower each other. This absolutely needs to end. Women's lives do matter. And we need to add our voices to the huge chorus being raised these days. Me too!

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