Darkness cannot survive in the light. That phrase keeps coming to me. Because of the bravery of so many women, and great investigative journalism, another powerful man has been exposed for who he truly he is. Harvey Weinstein is just the latest casualty of darkness being snuffed out by the light of truth telling.
Women (and we can never forget this happens to men too), are feeling empowered to speak their truth about their own sexual harassment, or assault and exposing the pain, the shame, and the guilt that often lingers long after the traumatic event or events.
Oprah taught me that it’s not the act itself that haunts victims of molestation, but the shame they carry. The shame is what keeps people silent and eats at their very soul.
I have been listening to a great podcast, called, “Death, Sex, and Money”- things that everyone thinks about, but no one talks about. Our culture teaches us to be strong, independent, and “fine.” We need to make it okay not to be fine. We need to allow people to speak their truth. Truth truly does set you free.
I am so struck by the wave of empowerment this story has started. Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and now Harvey Weinstein are just the tip of the iceberg of powerful men whose predatory behavior has gone unchecked for years. Men look the other way, or laugh at vulgar jokes to fit in, while women pretend to be “fine”, and stay silent out of fear.
I believe strongly there is a gift in the darkness as well. My hope is, exposing the vulgarity, telling the truth, and shining light on this subject will be the tipping point in a massive shift in what is tolerated within society.
Another interesting detail from these stories is, mixed within the tales of sexual assault are stories of verbal abuse and threats. In addition to being sexual predators, these men have the common traits of larger than life egos, volatile tempers, and subjecting victims who dare to say no or cross them to verbal abuse and assault that can be as damaging as physical abuse. This blatant lack of empathy for other people’s emotions should not be tolerated by people in power and should be viewed as a red flag for an emotionally disturbed individual. I think it’s important to change the norms on verbal abuse as well. Just because someone is powerful does not give him or her the right to abuse people without retribution.
I have heard it said that women are “too emotional” for leadership positions. When I read the quotes of the vulgarity, abuse, and temper tantrums thrown by these men, I think they are the poster children for why that narrative has no basis in fact. The truth is, we accept angry outbursts from powerful men as signs they are “tough”, and they “fight back”, while women who get angry and emotional are considered “unstable”. I think it’s time we stop accepting abuse of all kinds and tell the truth about how wrong it is.
I told my story of sexual harassment as a teenager in an earlier blog, which pales in comparison to the stories many women have, but I am far from alone as evidenced by the #me too movement. This wasn’t the only time I was harassed, and just like the women coming forward now, I didn’t tell a soul. There is a reason the first step in a 12-step recovery program is acknowledging the problem. Without the truth, there is no healing. I hope people do not stop shining the light. The darkness truly cannot survive.
I am curious to hear your reactions to the Harvey Weinstein story?