Pearls & Vodka

“I hope that it saves the next generation of women.”

Over the weekend the hashtag #MeToo started popping up all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all the social media platforms. The battle cry was to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem” of sexual harassment and assault. Social media has become flooded over the past few days with “Me too” statuses popping up on countless accounts. The movement started in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and its ensuing fallout. The movement spread so quickly that the French did something similar by tweeting the hashtag #balancetonporc, which translates to “squeal on your pig.” [1]

The women’s advocacy nonprofit group, The New Agenda, has claimed responsibility for the movement, saying that it was an extension of their #WomenWhoRoar campaign which began as a call NOT to boycott Twitter in response to their blocking of actress Rose McGowan. [1]

As of Monday afternoon, Twitter had confirmed that #MeToo had been tweeted more than half a million times. [1]

So many survivors of this form of harassment and assault are hoping that this movement will remove the taboo of discussing these heinous acts and as one woman said, “I hope that it saves the next generation of women.” [2]

There are some who have taken the #MeToo campaign a step further. A woman by the name of Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki posted that she didn’t believe this campaign would be “empowering” for her. She went on to say that “men who need a certain threshold of survivors coming forward to ‘get it’ will never get it.” Across several accounts of friends, I have started to see the retweet, “#MeToo is powerful. Imagine what ‘I’ve done it’ would do.”

The unfortunate, yet truthful, reality we live in is that 99.9% of women in our society could post #MeToo to their accounts.

I went out this morning to see what the definition of sexual harassment is. According to Wikipedia, which you know is the end-all, be-all, “Sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.” [3] RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, explains that sexual harassment includes:

  • Making conditions of employment dependent on sexual favors
  • Physical acts of sexual assault
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature
  • Unwanted touching or physical contact
  • Unwelcome sexual advances

Mayim Bialik, Blossom for those of us born in the 80s, and Amy Farrah Fowler the quirky neurobiologist on The Big Bang Theory, recently published a piece in the New York Times about “being a feminist in a Harvey Weinstein world.” Bialik wrote about her “uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women.” Having been criticized for her looks from an early age, even by family members, Bialik says she “never recovered” from seeing herself “that way.”

Y’all at 19 years of age, Mayim left Hollywood and pursued her doctorate in neuroscience at UCLA. She wrote, “I craved being around people who value me more for what was inside my brain than what was inside my bra.” [4]

I share the sentiments that Bialik wrote next, “In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect. Nothing – absolutely nothing – excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in.” [4]

It should not matter what a woman is wearing, but it does. It should not matter if a woman smiles at a man, or is polite to him, but it does. As Bialik said, it’s “the culture we live in.”

Truth be told, we as women do a lot of harm to ourselves.

So many conversations revolve around critiquing what another woman is wearing, we have entire “Red Carpet Specials” complete with panels of men and women alike who spend hours on television programs picking apart every single thread that these women are wearing. Millions of viewers tune in to see what the hottest celebrities are wearing and who they arrived with.

In 2015, 23.81 million viewers tuned in to the Oscar Pre-Show. [5]

If you have any doubts about how we as women treat other women, hop on Twitter and just search folks like Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. You’ll quickly find out just how hateful females are to each other.

Yes, without a doubt, we have an enormous, systemic issue with some men abusing women through assault, sexual harassment, and violence of varying types.

This must change. Unequivocally.

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

We MUST demand change in our society. Hand in hand with that, we MUST BE that change we wish to see in our society.

We cannot implore men to respect us as women when we don’t respect each other. And even further, how can we expect them to respect us when we don’t respect ourselves?

Nothing excuses the disrespectful behavior. No matter who is involved.

Nothing gives permission to abuse, in any shape, or form.

I’m the mother of a 22-month old son. My husband and I are teaching our son, even at this age, to be polite, to be respectful, and to be kind. We are teaching our son to love God first and foremost, to love others only second to God and to love himself. Not in a conceited way, but in a way that respects his body, his mind, and his heart. Children today need to be taught to love themselves. To love their bodies as they were created. To love their differences as they were designed. To love their minds as they are challenged. Without self-love, we will create a generation of victims who know nothing of survival and are clueless on what they deserve.

We are teaching our son to always hold the door open for people, to let ladies walk in the door first, to stand when a woman comes to the table or leaves and always to say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am,”please” and “thank you.” Somehow, he has even learned to say “bless you,” when someone sneezes. We didn’t intentionally set out to teach him that, partially because he is only 22-months old. But the reality is, he picked it up, from us. We are teaching him without even trying. Which is scary in, and of, itself. To all his teachers, babysitters, and friend’s parents, I sincerely apologize now if he accidentally slips a “shit” in here and there. I’m trying, I really am!

In reality, we are preaching sermons every day to the world around us, some with words, like on this blog, and some without, just by our actions. The saying is true, “I can’t hear what you are saying because your actions are speaking so much louder.” We are living our lives in the spotlight of the children around us. They are sponges just feverishly absorbing our every move.

If your son or daughter goes out to your social media account, what will they learn about how to treat someone?

Will they learn that it is acceptable to belittle, name-call and degrade?

Or will they learn to be respectful, find common ground with opposing parties and always treat others with kindness?

I understand that we don’t all agree on everything. I assure you, I read about the stances some of you have on issues, and I just shake my head. But the last thing I should be doing is hopping on my Twitter and using those 144 characters to call you a name or insult you. I should be using those few characters to engage you in a conversation to better understand your viewpoint and learn from you.

We will never all agree on every single thing. And honestly, it would be an awfully boring society if we did. But we must put an end to personally damning conversations based solely on differences.

Here’s an example that will send a few of you into convulsions:

My husband and I are teaching our son to always respect those in authority. We are not teaching him to be a “yes-man.” We are not teaching him to walk blindly by faith, in anyone, but the Lord. We are not teaching him to agree with those in powerful positions, just based on their titles. But we are teaching him to respect his elders, whether that is his teachers, his nanny, us as his parents, or adults in our circle of friends. We are teaching him to be aware of his surroundings and understanding that not every adult he will encounter has a desire for his good and that there is evil in our world, unfortunately. We are teaching him to respect things in our country that we hold dear; things like freedom, democracy, our flag, our elected officials, our first-responders and our military. Our desire for our son is that twenty years down the road when he goes back and looks at our Twitter feeds he will not see a barrage of hate-tweets towards our President, but instead cultural commentary on what is happening in our world and the different viewpoints that are shared. Our prayer is that we are always respectful in what we put out to the world-at-large, and that by doing so, when he goes back and reads those accounts that he will see the importance of being respectful, even in disagreeing.

Fictional, motivational speaker Matt Foley, aka Chris Farley, became famous on Saturday Night Live for his sketches where he would say, “LIVES IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!” Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri cheered on the Spartan athletes for years on SNL, as Arianna and Craig. Enid Strict, better known as The Church Lady” was a recurring character on SNL played by Dana Carvey. He played an older, uptight, pious talk show host on “Church Chat” using catchphrases that became famous like, “Well, isn’t that SPE-CIAL?” [6] Those were the good ol’ days. The political nature of SNL has engulfed the show now, unfortunately. What started all in good fun, mocking Sarah Palin’s “I can see Russia” comments from the 2008 Presidential Campaign, has been in a tailspin ever since.

Granted, without a doubt, President Trump does create a lot of material for comedic minds through his Twitter and press conferences. And did Sean Spicer really have to hide in the bushes to avoid the press if he didn’t want to end up on SNL? But still…

The liberal minds of SNL writers continually berate the women in the Trump Administration for things from their accents to their looks, and then wonder why we have a society that is so degrading to women. Sure, President Trump has made some grotesque statements about women that are inexcusable. But two wrongs, do NOT make a right. We perpetuate his behavior as a society by doing the exact same thing by tuning in to SNL and boosting their ratings when their show has stopped being funny and started simply being a syndicated show to bash the current administration. We built a society that elects men like Donald Trump, by applauding those types of jokes on SNL. And if you think that is a far-fetched notion, you are probably part of the reason he is in office today.

The material on comedic shows today sounds more like frat house conversations than truly thought out humor. The days of good, clean fun like on the Ellen DeGeneres Show when she has people jump out and scare celebrities doesn’t get near the play that Alec Baldwin gets playing Donald Trump on SNL. By the way, if you haven’t watched the montage of scares on Ellen, you have to click here, it will brighten any day! The point is though, we make jokes of bad behavior and call it comedy. It’s a coping mechanism, sure, I get that, but that doesn’t make it right. And it doesn’t incorporate the change we so desperately need in our society. We fat-shame personalities, by having characters who are much larger than the actual person, impersonate them, and yet scream women’s rights.

How can you encourage a generation of little girls to be confident when you degrade their bodies with impersonations, with no regard to accuracy, on shows like SNL? A little girl will see a woman on TV in a public spotlight and see that the woman is skinnier than her and still played as a much larger character on TV; what about that situation will encourage that little girl to do something in the public eye herself?

The tagline to my blog is “cultural commentary with an accent.” I’m from the south. I’m proud of that. I do not fly a “Dixie Flag.” But I am southern. I say y’all. I have a southern drawl. And I like it. I’ve always said there’s something awfully attractive about a man with a southern drawl, queue my handsome husband’s accent! I love that my little boy has one as well. I will say though; I can’t tell you how many people have thought I was dumb just by the way I talk. People from El Dorado, Arkansas, are not less intelligent than people from Boston, Massachusetts just because we talk differently. That’s like saying that Shakespeare was ignorant because he had a British accent, or that Coco Chanel’s words and creations were not worthy of your money just because she had a French accent.

The point is, we cannot expect the high standards that MUST exist in our society if we do not DEMAND them in our own, personal lives.

That means changing our narratives on our social media accounts, ceasing our support from those who make their living on tearing apart others, and for raising young men and women to be respectful, to be strong, to be kind and to protect the weak.

We MUST be the change we seek in our world today.

Let’s do more than we have been…

  • Today let’s embrace some change:
  • Try tweeting support for a survivor who showed the brevity of posting #MeToo
  • Try starting a respectful conversations about an issue with someone who thinks differently than you
  • Choose not to retweet the negative posts of a celebrity you follow
  • Write a letter to your elected officials explaining what change you would like to see in your area
  • Make a donation to a group that is working to help those in need

In the words of Ellen at the end of each show, “be kind to one another.”

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/15/entertainment/me-too-twitter-alyssa-milano/index.html

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/10/16/metoo-made-the-scale-of-sexual-abuse-go-viral-but-is-it-asking-too-much-of-survivors/?utm_term=.25b4df48e2fe

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/opinion/mayim-bialik-feminist-harvey-weinstein.html

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/88th_Academy_Awards

[6] http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/watch-best-saturday-night-live-sketches-time-article-1.2109597

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr7bRw0NxQ4

 

Photo by Ales Krivec