I’ve resisted talking about Harvey Weinstein because frankly, his actions disgust me. I find myself angered by the pervasive system of lies and collusion that allowed him to freely and repeatedly go after women. I am furious on behalf of these women. But even more, I’m furious that this type of behavior is so common. Across all spectrums. Every single day. I keep asking myself, “how do you turn the feeling of helplessness into power?”
For me, power comes from listening, learning and speaking.
I have been listening to the outpouring of stories. I have been listening to my friends and colleagues. I have been listening to my children ask questions. Over and over I hear echoes of my own experiences. Too many of us have these stories. These memories. Too many of us have suffered in private and in silence.
I have been learning. I was overdue to learn what is actually defined as sexual harassment under federal and state law. I want to understand how sexual harassment is addressed in my children’s school district. I need to take an even more critical eye to how sexual harassment is addressed in my workplace. I want to be hyper-vigilant that I am creating safe spaces for individuals in my work and home life so sexual harassment can never exist.
Now, I need to speak. I need to speak up in support when I know someone has been or might be in a vulnerable position. I need to speak up to address sexual harassment if I experience it or see someone else being victimized by it. I need to speak frankly and continuously with my children about their bodies and what is comfortable and appropriate for them. About what is normal and not. What consent is and is not. And what power they have to put others in a vulnerable position. And that they can always, always come to me if they have questions or concerns. Confusion and fear are so real.
The society we live in was built over generations. Change won’t occur in an instant because a predator was exposed. And it won’t occur because I am angry or informed. Change will occur when we all start addressing the ways, big and small, that power dynamics harm individuals. Change will occur when we stand up in ways, big and small, that protect those that are vulnerable, including ourselves.
We are not powerless. We never were. And it’s okay to start, right now, to turn your power into action. – Twila Dang