I originally posted about the #metoo movement on 11/18/17. In that posting I connected it to the arising of the Divine Feminine which I believe is working to empower women and provide opportunity for all of us to face our individual, national and cultural shadow. My purpose here is to reaffirm my alliance with this movement and speak directly to men with specific thoughts about what we need to do as we continue in these strange times.
It seems to me that #metoo is the single most important movement of our era. It holds great promise for both women and men. The most important part is that woman are finding justice after eons of suppression, discrimination and violence. In addition, the movement has the opportunity for men to move beyond the toxic masculinity that pervades our lives. For far too long women’s bodies have been assaulted and men’s souls corrupted. #metoo is a path out of this.
The movement has been attacked and derided by the right wing and the president in one of his puffed up, irrational rants in which he stated, “These are dangerous times for our sons.” In this he blithely ignores the dangers to our daughters. And the statement is simply false. If men learn how to behave appropriately there is no danger in #metoo for anyone.
The controversy currently swirling around Joe Biden is a perfect case in point from which we can all learn. Joe Biden has been one of my favorite politicians for many years and I think he is the exact sort of person we need as president. He may be the only one of the crop of current democrats running for president who can beat Trump. But he was engaging in a form of behavior that was invasive and uncomfortable to many of the recipients. In his day (and mine) the behavior was seen as supportive and caring. But in this day, he should have known better. He should have been more aware of changing standards. Just because something was permitted forty years ago does not mean it is appropriate today.
Continuing in this discussion, I have six specific, concrete and obvious suggestions for men’s behavior in a time when guidelines can be very murky. I also hope that others will ad to this list in the comments section of this blog.
- Men need to remember that “No” still means no whenever it is uttered.
- When we get the slightest indication that something is uncomfortable we need to stop. Any indication implying that “this is uncomfortable” also means no. it means stop it no matter what your intentions are.
- Men need to invite women to speak up in every and all situations.
- The best invitation to speak comes in the form of asking women not assuming that what we were taught is OK. The invitation needs to be followed up with listening, believing them and then changing our behavior.
- If we want to show support we can approach a woman directly from the front, looking them directly in the eyes and shake hands. If we want to emphasize the support we can gently hold the other person’s hand with both of ours. Otherwise we should be keeping our hands to ourselves.
- As Gloria Steinem recently said, “The best way to know if a hug is ok is to ask.”
Woman friends have shared with me that they are often very cautious and aware of safety concerns. They have been groped, pinched, and talked to disrespectfully far too often. I remain shocked by the pervasiveness of this experience in our culture. Situations for them can turn very ugly very quickly. The microaggressions of crude talk and sexist jokes imply and acceptance of worse and consequentially potential danger. I guarantee that if some man (or woman) walked up behind me, put his hands on my shoulders, smelled my hair and then kissed the top of my head I would have been creeped out and felt very unsafe.
We as men can embrace change and help build a different world. Sometimes the change feels bewildering or unfair but this is true only to the extent that we cling to corrupting, soul crushing toxic masculine teachings.