Watch this before reading the blog... it's worth it!
The Saturday Night Live skit above captures a lot of the current awkwardness in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement—which has been a difficult subject to speak about for many of us. Perhaps for all of us. The entire movement is wrapped up with significant personal opinions, anxiety, fear, self-righteousness, shame, blame, and guilt plus a myriad of other emotions based on whoever is engaged in or engaging others in the "conversation."
Our company, evox Omnimedia, a Public Benefit Corporation, has been in active conversations around #MeToo and honestly, even on our own staff calls, I find myself reserved, upset, and uncertain of myself and my ability to articulate anything that adds value or insight to the conversation.
Months ago, when all the s#%t hit the fan with Weinstein, Spacey, Rattner, Hoffman and hundreds of others from Political, Social, Religious, Business, and other venues, I decided wisely that my ONLY job right now was, and continues to be, to LISTEN to women. That's it right now. That is all there is to do.
#MeToo requires way less talking for most of us, especially men, and way more listening to women WITHOUT bringing your opinion about any of what is being shared with you to the conversation...at least for now and for the foreseeable future. It's clear by the recent lack of posts in all my social media feeds that WE want to escape the discomfort of the #MeToo movement, much like we escaped Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter. If we do not develop the capacity to be with this discomfort for an extended period of time, we will lose one of the most powerful opportunities for transformation that we've witnessed so far in our modern human development. To be in this #MeToo conversation will take a newfound maturity for most of us. It will take stamina, discipline, patience, grace, kindness, gentleness, discernment, and the ability to take a stand for what's right in our businesses at the grocery store, at the club, with our families, friends, strangers, and with our core communities, where frequently, we can allow ourselves to "relax" from the mental rigors that this movement (and all movements) require of us. Then we might make this potentially incredibly inspiring shift to a new, enlivened sense of our humanity.
My job, and our job, at evox is to listen to and hear women speak, share, and "get"...that is to hear, be present, and empathize deeply with the stories, the experiences, the grief, the abuse, and the deep hurt that women have experienced—for our recorded history and probably way before that—AND include our own personal trauma in the sharing of another. Their story does not invalidate or validate our own.
So, for now, I listen.
I gently correct and listen to the correction I get from others while I work this out for myself. That's mainly my job and opportunity during this #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. It takes practice, skill, and patience with oneself to be a listener, period. Often, people listen just enough to prepare for their big response and bestow their cleverness. Many non-listeners speak to demonstrate their brilliance or to sometimes unconsciously alert others to their inability to empathize, feel, and be with another person's pain and suffering.
I'm frequently frustrated with myself for my inability to "fix this" which is EXACTLY WHAT WE MEN SHOULD NOT BE TRYING TO DO AT ALL!
MEN! Stop trying to fix this.
There's no fix here. We are going to have to accept the fact that this probably won't be solved or healed in a week, month, a year, or even decades. Misogyny, abuse, entitlement, inappropriate behavior, exploitation, and unconscious or intentional use of personal power will not be solved by adding new legislation. Rules, laws, and penalties will help curb but not heal the psychic wound that we ourselves created.
We are dealing with millennia of abuse by men on women, people, cultures, and our planet itself. No matter the origins of this long-running human drama we've inherited, we now have the power and tools to reinvent ourselves and write a new version that includes an honorable and equitable future for all humankind.
This movement has granted the world a quick moment to cause an awakening.
While it's been a powerful opportunity, #MeToo and #TimesUp is already beginning to fade into the background of our daily newsfeeds and corporate media as the dramas have begun to run their course. At times, I fear we may not learn from this and might have lost the opportunity of this pivotal moment. Then I remember who I am and the powerful community I am a part of, and I know that WE will not let this opportunity disappear, but rather we will empower this movement and imbue it with strength, hope, grace, true-power, honesty, integrity, and grounded-optimism that we can change this now.
I am privileged to have a few confidants in my life, comprised of men, women, and transgender people (on 2/8/18 I was sent a correction which is used here - transgender people. Previously I had written "transgendered souls." That terminology is not correct), where I feel safe to share my uneducated and unenlightened views and opinions on these matters. These precious friends let me hear for myself in my sharing with them, the work that I must do to transform my own inherited and unchallenged (by myself) beliefs, stereotypes, entitlements, and arrogance. But, I share these untransformed thoughts with people who KNOW me and my spirit and trust my honest desire and willingness to work for kindness, justice, and equity for all.
Until I have something that will contribute something new to the #MeToo and #TimesUp conversation and movement, I'll continue to listen and evolve my own darkness. But until then, this Saturday Night Life skit sums up the difficulty of this conversation in a humorous and honest way.
If you need someone to listen to and hear your story, we would be honored to hear what you need to and want to say.
We promise to listen.
You can reach us on the evox Free Listening hotline at 844.588.3869.
If you'd like to be an evox Listener, you can email us at Listen@evox.life