Sunday night we witnessed Oprah begin her candidacy for President of the United States – I mean, I hope – at her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. It was a fantastic way to herald in the New Year. A rallying cry for women and men everywhere. This is my favorite part:
So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.
I loved her speech. Particularly how she talks about all of us fighting hard, men and women together, to eradicate abuses of power. The #TimesUp movement is pretty phenomenal. It’s a rallying cry from many powerful women in Hollywood that reaches across a huge socio-economic gap and offers a helping hand to less financially privileged women so they too can fight sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace. They’ve set up a Legal Defense Fund to subsidize legal support for people who have experienced sexual harassment. More on their website.
The whole #MeToo movement has highlighted how disturbingly pervasive sexual assault and abuse are across all industries. I know women who have suffered from it, and I doubt there’s a single one of us who doesn’t. It’s energizing to see how making our voices heard prompts real change – firing perpetrators, mobilizing the elite, and intensifying a sense of solidarity.
I haven’t been sexually abused or assaulted, thank the universe. I have had men, boyfriends, friends, and strangers, say the most disturbing things to me and haven’t been able to process them. I remember one day lying out in the sun with a group of friends near our high school campus. I felt divinely happy, surrounded by people I cared about, feeling the sun soaking into my skin, and completely relaxed. It was a mixed group of men and women friends. One of the guys, whom I considered a friend, said to me, ‘I don’t understand, do you want to be raped?’
I haven’t ever been able to fully process that question. I went from being in a state of natural bliss and relaxation to being horribly self-conscious and shy and honestly repressed. If you’re wondering what I was wearing shame on you, and it doesn’t matter, but it was definitely not revealing. I tended to subdue whatever about me was attractive in high school. I didn’t wear makeup, I didn’t wear heels (still don’t really if I can help it), I would hide my hair when I walked home from school because my mom told me it would attract too much attention. Which leads me to another story…
photo credit: Dan Corbett
One day on the way home from work, post-college, I did have my hair out. It was long and thick and luxurious and I wanted it to be free. I stepped out onto the platform to wait for my transfer. As I stood there I suddenly felt someone’s fingers run through the length of my long hair as they walked by. I felt every other hair on my body stand up and a kind of sick feeling churn in the pit of my stomach. I turned to look and a man I didn’t know lumbered away from me quickly walking to the exit. Two girls sitting to my left looked at me horrified and then looked at each other and whispered about what had just happened. I looked at them and tried to connect but they looked away from me as if I was somehow tainted by the incident. Or maybe they were just embarrassed for me.
photo credit: Dan Corbett
Here’s the thing, femininity is not actually a commodity. Although people might try to commodify it. It is not something that can be used and abused, at a moments notice for a moment’s pleasure, and then cease to exist. Although people will try to pretend that’s the case. It exists whether or not you’re there to look at it, touch it, or enjoy it. If you must engage with the feminine and/or with the female body please do so with respect and with permission.
The real truth of it is, we’re all irrevocably connected to one another. The #MeToo movement and the resulting #TimesUp movement highlight how much good we can do when we stand together and shout enough is enough. I hope we see more men join in the fight, really join in, as this moves forward. Not a one of the men who gave their Golden Globe speeches mentioned the TimesUp campaign and that was disappointing. We’re all in this together, and it’s going to take both men and women to make a lasting change.
Moving forward, let’s all try to be a little less afraid. Face our fears of whatever the hell it is that holds us back from being as brave, and brilliant, and divinely feminine as we can be.
Now is the time to embrace love. L.O.V.E.