“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Ghandi
I’ve always had a loud voice and as I writer, I want to use it to create the change I wish to see in the world. I’ll happily say things a million different ways to get them to land. I’d interpretive dance it, if that’d help. Now, more than ever before, it feels like time to stand tall and express my truth so that others can share theirs. But, what happens when my voice isn’t in harmony with others? When the collective voices are out of tune with one another? When no one is being heard?
The world is in a massive state of flux and change right now. It’s palpable. Our collective pain is coming to the surface and it’s not pretty. That’s okay. People will react when faced with things they don’t like. They retreat, defend or attack. Freeze, flight or fight. Standard stuff.
So what do we do about it?
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice- cream. Expect it’s not for sweet treats this time.
- I scream “It’s not okay!”
- You scream “It’s not my fault!”
- I scream “It’s not about you!”
- You scream “Stop screaming!”
- I scream “Don’t tell me what to do!”
and very soon, we’ve lost our voices in the cacophony. Everyone’s throat is sore and nothing gets done. The solution is not to silence people. It’s not to stop talking. So what is it?
We must start where you want to finish:
Skipping to the end…
If we’re going to create a new world order of inclusivity, acceptance and integration, then we’re going to need all the support we can get. Whether we like it or not. We may not depend on it, but we don’t have to do it alone. We can do it together. And doing it together is creating the change we wish to see in the world.
Let’s start at the very beginning…
This the story of how I’ve come to a place of acceptance.
The #menaretrash hashtag sparked a fire in people. They roared. Some could hear clearly where the message came from, others felt personally attacked; some felt the hashtag was doing serious damage.
The idea of inclusivity is that we have to accept all voices in the choir and this includes those that we don’t like. This idea has been a jagged pill to swallow. I have my ideas. They’re clear. I know what I’ve been through as a women. I don’t need a man telling me to ‘calm down’ or ‘do as he says’. It points to everything that frustrates me.
But, when I further argue, any truth they may have accepted is destroyed because they feel attacked. You can fight back on their level or you can own your power and
- Be the bigger person,
- Rise above it,
- Elevate yourself to higher ground.
These concepts annoy me because they reduce one and exalt another. My natural instinct is to bring it to base level and fight fire with fire, on equal terms. But I’m destroying myself in the process. Maybe looking down, or rather from a new perspective, how ever you frame it – works? I can only try. So here’s an attempt…
In desperation, anger and pain, I’d written this first article as
- Rape culture online: an example
- 11 ways to stop causing your own rape and murder by a Man who knows.
I copy and pasted the time consuming interactions with one particular man. How could he not hear what was so clear to me? Why was he incessant, publicly attacking me so aggressively? What traits did he mirror in me that he bothered me so much?
From privately contacting me on Facebook to offer me his solution of psycho active medicinal plants from his unprofessional diagnosis of my issues, to in no uncertain terms stating that
“And this is how women for generations have been trying to get their own way with men — through manipulation / control / feeling guilty …”
He had a very particular view point. He wrote that I used “a not so subtle form of manipulation”. He publicly expressed that I was an
- Angry feminist
- Scorned women
- Wounded feminist 101
- Playing into victim / victimiser role playing, to shape my response the way I wanted it
- And that my article lacked authentic pain.
If I / women had authentic pain “he would be to respond with immediate care.”
I was so offended and I began to think – ‘ah these men are the problem!’ with renewed hopeless disgust.
My friend creative a private Facebook group and detailed some of her horrific experiences. She shared truth to bring clarity. He questioned if she ‘really’ wanted to heal because all these terrible things were happening to her.
He said / She said keeps us stuck
“It’s true that this world is fcked up place … its true that there is generational abuse to women… and it’s true you have every right to be angry … and it’s true we have no idea how you experience this on a day to day experience …What response would you like me to have that I’m not currently doing ?If you simply want care and comfort … I can offer that.“
“Just listen, make people feel heard, don’t solve, don’t judge, just listen. A statement of “I hear you, I’m here and willing to listen” not retort, just listen. Not send quotes that are patronising. I hear you say it on the inside but we still have to clean the wound that is infected before we can stitch the wound.“
I think, Aha! Mutual understanding! Unite! This is it! And then,
“If you allow a drunk, horny asshole into your bed, he abuses you, and you stick around with him … then both of you are playing out each other’s wounds. So yes, there is responsibility here that must be owned by women, who put themselves into that position. Don’t only not stay – stop don’t choosing assholes. You can’t change them.“
He blamed her for getting sexually assaulted. Then he launched his attack online, at me. And after much back and forth, in no uncertain rape terms, and his ‘say it nicely’ terms, I said:
“I’m asking kindly, you don’t have to help, but please stop. Stop.”
I do not engage directly with him again. And he does not stop. I won’t bore you with the details. They’re all online.
He wanted his “equal right to an opinion on female abuse, as guess what, it’s perpetrated by men.” His girlfriend defended him by calling out 3 women, myself included as “creating an image of a feminist as a raging, unfair bitch.”
This pandemic, in my opinion, is not only a responsibility of men, but equally of women.
- Women too, need to empower themselves
- Not choose abusive partners,
- Not have children who cannot be cared for,
- (Not) tell young boys that men are not to trusted,
- Not instilling confidence in them (young boys),
- Empower themselves with regards to rape,
- Not date abusive alcoholics,
- Not put themselves into dangerous situations (like, the world?),
- Not have children if they cannot look after themselves,
- If they find themselves as single mothers, to nurture a healthy relationship with their father if possible,
- Help that young boy gain maturity and empowerment, so that when they reach sexual maturity, they treat women with respect.
11 solutions from the Patriarchy. Don’t blame the patriarchy when you can blame yourself for your rape or murder. Women can prevent men’s crimes. Don’t punish men! They’re from women in the first place! Instead remember: if you were better woman, man would be better. It’s up to women to heal their hearts. Its easy! He tags me in a post. I untag myself. He refuses to stop.
In a world where men hear Stop and treat it as Go, what hope do we have?
But, I’ve come to see an alternative. Because he said, she said keeps us in a loop that goes no where.
It felt like this man was out to attack me and the women closest to me. I’d been consumed with feelings of pain and rage. I’d felt helpless – exactly like the victim he said I portrayed. He did exactly what he warned men would do – he fought back. Granted most men didn’t go his route, but he proved himself as the point. Threw every stereotypical, sexist, misogynistic, patriarchal ‘to do’ out there.
But actually, to use the child analogy again,
What if he was just a child who also want’s to be heard?
A little boy who feels excluded from a conversation. Who felt rejected and needed attention? Who wanted to engage so did the best he could by shouting solutions. He wanted to make it better. They’re only offensive suggestions if you assume he knows any better. He doesn’t! How could be possibly understand what it’s like to be a woman? That’s part of the problem. But if we exclude the men who are angry, we also loose their desire to help.
He wasn’t asked for help. I clearly told him I didn’t need it. I said:
“You’re included to support women whenever you choose to. Or not. I don’t depend on men for support.“
This man wanted to help – not just any women, but me directly. He reached out. And I shut him down because he did it in a way that offended me, just like the hashtag offended him. What a perfect mirror.
- This man wants to be asked for help.
- He wants to save the day.
- He wants it to make a difference.
- He wants to support.
He’d being denied his opportunity and that frustration is causing him to lash out in anger.
If we’re going to create a new world order of inclusivity, acceptance and integration, Then we’re going to need all the support we can get. Whether we like it or not. We may not depend on it, but we don’t have to do it alone. We can do it together. And doing it together is creating the change we wish to see in the world.