In this posting I will again focus on #metoo which is continuing to force a confrontation with the plague of sexual harassment and assault. The Divine Feminine continues to rise up to meet this evil. I believe it is the central spiritual issue of our time.
Spiritual people need to be wise as serpents, gentle as doves and absolutely, utterly relentless about this.
I suggest a four-stage model.
Stage One: informal rumor and whispers. This is where we have been with this for eons and from which we are finally beginning to emerge. The major tools of this stage are the whispered undertones of women warning each other with cautions like “Don’t get on the elevator alone with him.” “Be careful if you go into his office.” It is the stage of gossip, rumor and things known about but not openly discussed or dealt with. It is also the stage of shaming and punishing those who come forward. The role of men in this stage was mostly to be complicit.
Stage Two: calling out of the predators. This is the stage we are emerging into. Women are arising and insisting this must stop. Their voices unite with “We will no longer accept being intimidated into silence” and “The shaming of truth speakers will no longer be tolerated.” This has meant the down fall of many nationally known leaders in every walk of life including entertainment, politics, news and business. I have been shocked at times by the numbers. Sometimes I have been shocked by the specific individuals who have been deposed from their lofty perches (Charley Rose, Al Franken). I think I’m done being shocked.
#metoo is a hazmat crew removing dangerous toxins from our nation. What I see in my women friends is their happiness that this is going on and their fury that they have had to tolerate it for so long. As one commentator has said, “Pandora’s box has been opened and she is pissed.” She has a right to be.
The purging needs to continue. My google search two weeks ago revealed that forty-two well known men have been called out and dethroned. By now there are probably sixty-two. It seems there may need to be hundreds more. And in stage three perhaps ten thousand more.
Stage three: is the local cleansing. It overlaps considerably with stage two. The calling out needs to be not just about national figures but also local figures in every state, city and town. The culture needs to be scrubbed clean. The process, in stage two, begins at the top but does not end there. Stage three focuses on where most women live. I intended to list two or three recent exposures in local area by googling sexual harassment in Boston but dozens of cases come up.
The role of men in this stage is unequivocal support. Holding space so that every woman has room to speak her truth.
Stage four: building systemic forms and processes that ensure continued cleansing. The dethroning of individual rogues who engage in predatory behavior is only the beginning. If each and every one of them is called out it will not take long for another generation to come along. The specific organizations, businesses and institutions that permit a culture of assault to exist also need cleansing. These organizations are the equivalent of the bishops and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church who hid pedophile priests by moving them around. Media organizations hide their stars by using nondisclosure agreements in settlements. The Church scandal did not decrease until the leaders were held accountable at great financial cost to the Church. It will be no different in other realms.
More specifically, this systemic stage requires laws and policies similar to the following:
1. A ban on non-disclosure agreements unless the victim requests anonymity which she can change at any time. These agreements have shielded predators for decades.
2. Any company with more than three of these types of cases settled out of court over a period of three years pays a fine amounting to three times the amount of the settlement and has to inform all stockholders and the board of directors and acknowledge all of the cases in purchased full page newspaper ads. If it is a media business it is also required to inform all advertisers. The important thing is that permitting the toxic culture to continue becomes too costly. In the media business if the accused star creates more revenue than he settles for it is simply considered another cost of doing business.
3. Any individual settling out of court also pays a fine three times the amount of the settlement. All of these fines go into a fund which pays for accuser’s legal fees and cost of #4 & 5.
4. After three of these type suits, investigators from the local federal prosecutor’s office enter the business to interview the people who work there about the corporate climate.
5. There needs to be a national registry of predators, so the behavior of individuals and organizations is tracked.
6. Harassment training becomes mandated for all companies, organizations and institutions. However, training alone is of little use. Consequences to behavior far outweighs the impact of training. Accountability is the central issue. Without accountability training is a futile gesture.
The role of men in this stage is to use every bit of their power as executives, board members and leaders to make sure this gets done. Men must either stand up or step aside.
(I am sure that there are other ways to approach this and would like to hear from people with suggestions.)
Spirit moves throughout all of this shining a light into the darkness of this plague that is so deeply ingrained into our culture. Spirit is found not just in sitting in meditation as important as that is but in joining when Spirit’s influence moves across the landscape.
Assault and harassment is a crime against God. In Christian scripture Jesus says “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40) He means that when we mistreat others we mistreat Him. (See my post of 3/1/15)
It will take great wisdom, compassion and relentless tenacity for lasting change to happen.