In light of the recent #metoo phenomenon across the Internet, where woman and men of all kinds are coming forward with their stories on sexual assault and harassment, I thought I would try and tackle this delicate subject, from a warrior perspective.
I’ve heard a lot of stories of how they people have been hurt and taken advantage of; it has taken much of bravery and compassion, to voice these stories, and also to hear these stories. To validate them, is equally as necessary as telling them.
What I haven’t heard much talk of, is the “NOW WHAT?”. How do we address and maybe change these cultural norms we have created?
In recent conversations about consent and male/female relations, someone spoke of a situation in a festival environment when a male attendee was being too aggressive with females at the event (tale old as time). The way the event staff handled the situation, was as such: they took the identified males and the identified females into separate rooms as groups, and had a conversation. For the men, they spoke of the issue itself, while not calling any individual out, and the conversation concerned how they, as males, can retain their masculinity without alienating the women; without using force to feel heard. They men didn’t WANT to come off that way, generally, and it was learning experience for most.
The real learning however, came with the females, who spoke instead of the problem, of the solution. They discussed how they could as a group band together and not allow this kind of behavior to continue, let alone affect them negatively, any longer. They rallied as warriors. They worked on EMPOWERMENT. They discussed specific language to use to nip that degrading behavior in the bud before it could become a problem, moving forward. They took an interesting, and some would say risky approach to an ever-evolving issue, and their methods worked. The women became incredibly empowered throughout the rest of the weekend, and there were no more issues with either gender taking advantage of power or sex.
(These conversations become even more convoluted with the pronoun discussion. Not everyone identifies as male or female, and no one should HAVE to identify as anything. All in all, in your community, we MUST become more aware and respectful of these cultural evolutions. You don’t have to understand it, but you do need to respect that people are pressing the envelope when it comes to sexuality and identity. These conversations are important.)
I conceptualized this article because, though I have some slight experienced an unwanted advantages – a pat on the ass at a drunken bar, and cat calls on the street – I have come out mostly unscathed.
My whole life, my family has stressed: “carry your mace”, “don’t want down the street alone at night,” “be careful when you go to your car,” and always the questions over “how do you feel safe at night when you’re leaving the bar alone” etc.
I was raised to believe that “attitude is everything”. They say that aggressors prey on the meek. The weak.
I have intuitively always approached these seemingly “scary” situations as opportunities… to be brave, to be strong and to teach others subconsciously HOW to walk down a dark street alone at night and NOT GET FUCKED WITH.
First of all, YOU LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE. I eye mug every single person on any given block I’m on, constantly. Not in a paranoid way, but in an inquisitive and slightly magical way that says “hey, I see you, I get it, and it’s great to meet you here on this earth”. I look people in the eye, with meaning, with a smile and with a maybe slightly crazy approach… maybe, just maybe, I’m just as bat shit crazy as they are? Nobody fucks with bat shit.
I say hello, and when I am responded to with comments like “oh, baby are you married”. I boldly and loudly go “Nope, but my boyfriend might propose any day now” or some other quick-witted response. Always with a smile. Sometimes with a laugh or a genuine “Hey man, you have a great day. Love those shoes” .
I am aggressive. I am abrasive. I do not shy away. And I also do not look back.
When someone cat calls me, I smile nod, look them in the eye and KEEP WALKING. No attention given what-so-ever to the cat call.
Now some of you might argue that I’m not teaching a lesson to the predator in that situation, but safety first, my friends. The lesson can come in obvious time. If every victimized or approached person was able to be brave, maybe just maybe some of these predators might get the message. That is NOT how you speak to a lady, or a gentleman.
I hesitated to touch on this, because, no, I have not had any severely threatening experiences. It hasn’t happened to me, whether that be good luck or my unabashed attitude.
My unafraid, and perhaps somewhat idealistic approach, is not backed up without logistics. I still cary my mace. I still keep my keys between my fingers like a weapon. I still look around like a crazy person every single step, to make sure I am not being followed or taken off-guard. I am present.
Most importantly, I AM NOT AFRAID. Getting out of my car, sometimes the only alone female person in a rough neighborhood in the inner-city, headed to a hip hop concert, I take a deep breath, I look everyone in the eye I pass on the street, LIKE THEY MATTER, and I try and envision a bubble of safety around me in moments where I might feel particularly threatened.
As I often tell myself on road trips, you must see yourself making it safely to your destination, to have any chance of making it safely to begin with.
Keep being brave out there with your stories. Keep telling them honestly, and letting it be known that WE as HUMANS (not as males, or females) will NOT STAND FOR INJUSTICE ANY LONGER. We will speak out. We will say #metoo until the message is heard and until absuse is no longer tolerated. And we WILL continue to talk openly about how to break down these cultural ‘normals’.
What do you do to protect yourself from unwanted attention?
What do you to stay brave in a situation that encounters fear?
How are you actively changing the paradigm?
Love, all ways,