For some time now I have watched the development of the #metoo movement, mostly with great awe of the brave people sharing so openly, paving the way for others to share their experiences in this new space opened up by it.
It is what is happening around this new space that often saddens me. People claiming it, questioning other people’s participation. And the anger.
It seems that, when the movement itself is still being belittled, every shared story has to put up with the whole process of justifying the entire movement. Something that #metoo was supposed to prevent from the very start.
What I then see is a great polarisation of the crowd, pinning the sexes against each other. Since there are more women who share their stories, the predators in these scenarios are mostly men – a result of many years of macho culture.
The battle of the sexes is long over, not just because it is driven by outdated constructs that are no longer present in modern day western society, but also simply because gender itself is so much more than pink and blue.
It is no longer possible to hide behind the excuse of your gender. It’s like justifying your behaviour with your zodiac sign and into which direction your dog peed yesterday – no one believes that shit anymore.
It is finally the time when people actually are held accountable for their actions. And here you see the division in reactions.
The ones previously belittled in their gender finally feel liberated and able to express themselves within their true (gender-) identity.
The ones who, up until now, have used their gender as a free pass through life – a gift card for respect – can no longer justify their actions simply by being of a certain gender.
And it scares them.
Suddenly the world has stripped them of their shiny shield and all that is left behind is the fact that you might actually just be a terrible person.
“Not all men”
Generalization is a funny thing. We do it with one, maybe two, specific cases in mind, but make it sound like it’s everyone in order for more people to relate. But the people relating only do with one, maybe two, memories in mind.
Whatever we do, it is important to share our specific stories. Some might finally find something relatable, others a new perspective on what they thought to be set in stone.
And you just have to be there to listen.
#metoo is supposed to provide a space free from any kind of judgement, questioning, or comparison. Each statement should stand for itself, just like the person sharing it. Because it is only when acknowledging every individual story that we become aware of the big mass telling it.
In the space of #metoo there are both sharers and listeners. A listener has no obligation to feel responsible for anything that is being shared, just like they’re not being asked to seek justification for the reported behaviour. But if you recognise yourself in any of the stories, for the love of life, don’t brush it off. Take a moment to be aware of the behavioural pattern you, and many others, have internalised and change it.
A sharer is simply there to be seen, heard, and embraced by the crowd, rather than being rejected by it like so many times before.
Abuse of power comes in many ways. One of them being sexual misconduct, which is mainly vocalised in the space of #metoo. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
We live in a time where hierarchies are being scrapped, sharing economies are on the rise, and we are referred to the foundation of human interaction – trust.
But, together with respect, trust is something we have to re-learn. Somehow, society has gotten lost in the endless formalities that come with the beautiful thing called bureaucracy. Titles speak louder than actions and this very individualistic society seems to overlook the individual itself.
What was meant to be everyone’s equal chance at success has become one giant ego trip, making selfish behaviour the norm, and respect for others a remote thing.
Individualism doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. Just like the sharing of individual stories doesn’t undermine the experiences of any other. #metoo is a community of people, trusting each other with personal struggles, relying on nothing else but mutual respect.
And I get angry at the sceptics and the excluders, because only when sharing with each other our pasts and problems, the load doesn’t seem as hard to carry.