Who among us hasn’t been touched, in some way, by the snowballing power of the #MeToo campaign that swept through our lives recently? It’s impact has been so great, it has been chosen as Time Magazine‘s cover for “Person of the Year.”
Here’s a paragraph from Time‘s cover story:
This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.
“They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along.” I’d add two more.
First, I’ve had it with the idea that “boys will be boys.” Yes; it’s time to make sure our boys are taught to be good human beings: accountable for their choices and their actions and their words, and respectful of others, even those with whom they disagree. It’s time for the boys to grow up.
Second, I’m wondering if an experience I had a few weeks ago is one you can relate to — it has to do with being discounted when I happen to disagree. I’m not talking about being rude. I’m not even talking about needing to being right. I’m thinking only of holding a basic honest disagreement on whatever the topic at hand might be. And having my opinion acknowledged.
Do you express your disagreement easily? Readily? When you do, do you feel heard? Do you feel your opinion, even though different, is respected? Valued?
That’s what I’ve been chewing on these past few weeks. I had just gotten over a bad cold and had announced that fact to an acquaintance of mine who usually greets me with a hug. “I’ll not be hugging,” I told him and I explained why.
His reply? How troubling it was that he now had to be so careful whom he hugged. “I can’t just hug anyone anymore,” he complained to me.
“Actually,” I countered, “all you have to do is ask first. Hugs are still good.” He ignored that, repeating his earlier statement and this time adding that he was going to miss “touching.”
“No.” I said again. “Touching isn’t necessarily bad; it’s the power play that comes with it that’s the problem. It’s a problem of boundaries; of power.”
With that I sensed our conversation was over. He hurried off.
Perhaps he really did have to hurry off and it was simply an inelegant departure. But I’ve kept wondering if this might instead be an example of something larger.
Is this a cultural issue or something attributed to the individual? Is this a question for sociology or for psychology?
I posted the question to facebook and received a resounding vote in favor of culture. Blacks, of course, have dealt with this for centuries in their dealings with whites; the disabled, with the able-bodied; the elderly, with the young; and on we go.
So I ask you:
What conversations have you had in which you felt discounted? How did you respond? How do you explain it?
Here’s a holiday gift idea.
Have you checked out my Books page recently? With the holidays fast approaching, I hope you’ll consider a copy of At Home on the Kazakh Steppe.