I am a woman. I like being a woman. And, I love who God created me to be.
As a woman, who happens to be called to ministry, I have found myself listening to, reading about, and watching with great interest the events in recent days of those who have come forward to speak of their disturbing experiences with a very powerful man in the entertainment business.
My interest in this has nothing to do with whether or not the entertainment industry is rocked by this scandal or what it means for their bottom line. I honestly don’t care about that at all.
What I do care about is how we treat each other as human beings. And, the news that’s come our way in these past days of the sexual exploitation and abuse that women in that industry have been subjected to by this man and by others because they were in a position of power to do what they did has left me with several thoughts.
The first was that if this particular story is what it takes to be the tipping point for women and men to be able to stand up against those who use their money and power to exploit, abuse, and mistreat women then so be it. I pray that this will be not just a wake-up call for those who say they had no knowledge of such goings on, but that it will finally be the story that once and for all sends a message that this kind of behavior is unacceptable, that there will be consequences, and that it needs to stop. Now.
I pray that people will finally, finally look at what happened to women who are in an industry where careers are influenced, impacted, and interrupted by those who would use sex as a weapon to promote them or destroy them. I realize this isn’t anything new and in some ways it’s not even news but rather the next chapter in a very ugly, sordid, and sickening story.
However, my hope is that we will finally, finally broaden the focus to see that what we have been seeing play out in Hollywood is not limited to just those folks in that industry. This has happened to women in every work situation for far too long. And, what’s more reprehensible than knowing that it has happened is also knowing that it is still happening. And, that means that my daughter and her friends and all our daughters are more likely than not to experience something that will remind them that because they are females there are others who think less of them and will treat them as something lesser than.
Speaking as a mother and not to put too fine of a point on it, but this is bullshit. I know…I’m a minister and I’m not supposed to say stuff like that. But, sometimes you gotta use the word that applies. I believe that one does.
I pray that finally, finally we will look at all women in every workplace and see them as people who deserve respect and deserve to be treated honestly, fairly, and justly on every level. Actually, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we just treated everyone—everyone—with dignity and respect simply and just because they/we are human beings and children of God who deserve that?
It is predictable that women who speak up and speak out about their experiences will be subjected to another kind of abuse that may be more egregious and harmful than what they are coming forward with. They will be tried in the court of public opinion and convicted as the criminal for daring to speak their truth. We’ve seen this happen over and over again and it’s no wonder that more women have kept these stories and experiences to themselves. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to that kind of horror more than once?
Speaking out against any kind of injustice takes tremendous courage. But, we should not be quick to judge people, especially those who are in positions of little or no power, when they don’t come forward. Sometimes people don’t speak up for themselves because they are trying to protect themselves and others from further harm. And, as a woman who’s had to choose when or when not to hold my tongue, I can assure you that’s not an easy choice, but it is often a necessary choice.
Most women I know who have experienced these kinds of offenses choose not to share it publicly because we know the costs of doing that. And, yes, we also know the costs of our silence. We often share our stories with each other but mostly assume that sharing them with our male colleagues will fall on deaf ears, or they’ll be heard as whining or complaining. And, as we’re trying to make our way in our chosen careers, vocations and callings, the last thing we want to do is jeopardize the chances we have to get promotions or raises because we dared to name that there was this gigantic, monster in the room—It-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named (to borrow and slightly modify from the Harry Potter books).
Friends, we need to not only be able to call this name, but we need to confront it and take out this monstrous injustice once and for all. And, right now, we sisters could really use some support from our brothers instead of the silence and dismissals and the unbelief we’re used to.
Brothers, your sisters–your moms and daughters and wives–have been doing much of the heavy lifting on this one. So, unless it’s okay with you and you don’t mind that the women and girls in your life are being subjected to this kind of crap, then I would respectfully suggest you get off your butts and stand up for them/us and with us and be very clear with every guy you know that this kind of behavior will no longer be tolerated and ignored.
And, one more thing…
To say love is the answer may sound simplistic and cliché. But, I don’t think it’s either. If we loved each other the way we are called to then we wouldn’t be having these conversations. This would never be an issue if we treated all people with love and care.
So, imagine what the world looks like when love wins. And, let’s walk in that direction.
I wish you peace.