Our “Ladies’ Power Hour” that would lead a discussion about the #MeToo movement occurred two days after the now historical “Oprah Speech” at the 75th Golden Globes. The pressure to speak and inspire after THAT was high. Nonetheless, I gave a crowd of awesome women (and men), on a dreary Tuesday evening, my best insights in order to open up a free thinking dialogue on a multifaceted and important subject. No matter your level of motivational speaking skills, stories are what inspires the heart to feel more and the spirit to do more. On this particular evening, we experienced moving stories and compelling wisdom that should never stop occurring in our community. Days later I’m encouraged to share the overarching themes from the people in the intimate space of Wine Crush Bar in Argenta:
Our Experiences are Our Experiences: Not to be placed on a scale for competition, our level of experiences of sexual misconduct, harassment, or assault should all be listened to and given support to the person who experienced it, right? “Someone had it worse” is a blanket statement that we all use modestly, but it also devalues the importance of the support that should naturally be given to us. Your story is worthy. You are worthy of support.
Speaking Your Truth Is Cathartic: Once you challenge yourself to speak your truth of past harassment or assault to either a friend, health professional, or to a group, you release the weight of guilt, shame, embarrassment off of you. In the process you may give healing to the person you are sharing your story with. Conversation and openness gives safe spaces for “Me too” to be said.
Talk To Our Little Girls & Boys: We must create a relationship with our children to have open conversations about what behaviors are inappropriate and that no matter what they can talk to an adult about behaviors that have made them uncomfortable--and encourage that we will love them through any pain and that it's not their fault.
Stop Asking “What was she wearing?”: This question, along with any others, will place blame on a person enduring sexual misconduct or assault and is damning to the person who needs support and to the women who may need support in the future.
Forgiveness: Two main themes of this section of the discussion was “Hurt people, hurt people” and “If a person has it in their mind to hurt you, nothing you wear or do will change it.” The thinking and emotion of an aggressor may be a puzzle you will never solve and it’s not worth the further disruption of your peace or security to try to solve it. If you are a believer of the power of forgiveness, you may have to walk that journey without a lot of answered questions.
We All Are Advocates: We have all advocated for something or someone in our lives: children, parents, ourselves, etc. We all have the power to speak out when something is unfair, inappropriate, and discriminatory. No matter if the topic at hand directly affects us or not, this movement should spur advocacy on many different levels of social ills and injustice across communities. Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote, “Culture does not make people. People make culture.” We control the tide and we control the conversation.
One couple happened to come into the bar because they are regular customers of Crush and the crowd encouraged them to stay and join the conversation. Upon leaving, the man in the duo said to me very sincerely, “Know that you have more advocates than you realize and this movement affects men as well” as he placed his hand on his heart.
Michelle B. Barnes is the founder and executive director of Real Images. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Real Images @realimagesar.
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