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With all of the allegations against men in power in the headlines, I’ve come to realize that the malignant negativity targeted by the MeToo movement is everywhere. It’s not just perpetrated by men, and it’s not just in the workplace.

It just puts on different hats. In school, it would be labelled bullying. In the workplace, it’s harassment. On the highway, it’s road rage.

It comes, in every case, from a deficit. Something essential that is lacking, so some other, darker energy shows up instead.

There are so many people in pain who inflict pain that they can’t all be summarily dismissed. At some point, some brave soul is going to have to talk about – for lack of a better term – Monster Management.

What do we do with all of the people who have committed acts so monstrous, even their names evoke revulsion? If we put them all together on an island in quarantine, don’t you think they’ll all just get more monstrous? Wouldn’t they, in their deviousness, find a way to secretly infiltrate society again, only this time, in deeper disguise?

It seems to me that they shouldn’t be exiled or executed, but studied. How did this pathology set in? Could it be anyone was born with such depraved impulses, or was trauma or abuse a factor? As hard as it is to sympathize with such individuals, they do exist, and some are in your shared cubicle, the house next door, or even the church pew right next to you.

If we pretend this problem doesn’t pervade every stratum of society, we’ll never find a way to resolve it. Now the task is to find research scientists willing to gird their own souls and look into the minds of monsters, for the sake of humanity.

Photo by Jiyeon Park on Unsplash

Journalist Ann Curry appeared on a news program to promote her new project, which focuses on feel-good stories of people re-connecting with those who have had a positive impact on their lives.

But first the anchors wanted her to talk about a dark day from her past. They kept asking her about being let go from NBC’s Today Show. It was reported that Matt Lauer, now accused of sexual impropriety, had had Curry fired.

Even though she was clearly uncomfortable, Curry spoke in generalities about her experience, hoping to get back to her current project. It occurred to me. Isn’t this also the creation of a hostile environment? If she keeps stating she wants to look forward and not talk about a painful event and that boundary isn’t being respected, isn’t this a form of abuse as well?

And I wondered if #MeToo is not just about men in power, sexually harassing or abusing women. It’s also women, in a conversation, not hearing another woman saying, This is something that makes me uncomfortable. I’d prefer not to talk about it.

There’s an orthodoxy forming that could become just as exclusive as the boys’ club has been. I noticed that the women who started Time’s Up didn’t include the earliest voices of #MeToo, such as Rose McGowan, who was vocal in her criticism of Meryl Streep.

There’s a danger that a genuine groundswell may become another party that only a few are invited to attend.

I’d like to propose another hashtag: #YourTime, which is to say, tell your story in your time. When you’re ready to speak, we’ll all listen. If you don’t feel like talking, or even offering an opinion on these issues, that’s your prerogative, as well.

Advocacy is a lot like faith. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all.

We used to have a term for men at the office who always found a way to touch us “innocently” while making a point at a meeting or in the break room. The word was “handsy.” It sounds almost quaint, doesn’t it? But to have to put ten extra minutes of energy into making sure there was a table or a pile of books between you and the “handsy” guy really shouldn’t be a way of life for anyone.

When I first saw this video of conservative Pennsylvania lawmaker, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, barking at his male colleague to stop touching him, I dismissed him summarily. “What a homophobe. Horrible person,” I thought. “Unhinged.” And then I got to the end of the clip. The liberal colleague, Rep. Matt Bradford, even after this man’s outburst (calling him gay in a pejorative way) still almost touches Metcalfe again. You can see it’s a reflexive action. He’s a handsy man. He doesn’t know it. He means no harm. But really, this is an example of unwanted touching.

We can’t talk to each other because we won’t listen to each other.

“I speak with my hands,” Bradford said. “I’ve tried to calm him down.”

“If someone touches another person, and they say, ‘stop touching me,’ and they don’t stop, that’s serious business,” said Metcalfe.

It’s possible to minimize a valid issue because the person involved is kind of a tool.

This story in the “offbeat news” section of the headlines relates to the #MeToo movement, if only in a peripheral way. It’s not about a potential lawsuit or a viral video such as this one that follows you for the rest of your life. It’s about personal space. Doing what’s right. As a rule, it would be wise to keep our hands to ourselves.

Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Fell in with the wrong crowd.

(But in truth, they were the wrong crowd.)

Comments were taken out of context.

(But in truth, the comments as reported were quoted verbatim.)

It was all in good fun.

(But in truth, as a person in power, that’s your unilateral decision.)

So many actors and producers have been accused of sexual impropriety that it’s spawned a hashtag: “#MeToo.” The repugnant details have been bad enough to process, but there seems to be a new allegation every day.

Dustin Hoffman was accused of harassing a young woman on a movie set, and he apologized, but also said, inexplicably, “It is not reflective of who I am.”

But in truth.. what you do and say? That’s who you are.

Hoffman’s director on that movie spoke in his defense, only making things worse. Speaking of the allegation that the actor had grabbed the woman’s backside, the director said, “It may have happened, but again in a funny way.”

Donna Karan claims her victim-blaming, woman-shaming comments were – wait for it – taken out of context. In truth, she was quoted accurately. She even smile-sneered every time she made the same outrageous point. “How do we display ourselves?” Smile. “Are we asking for it?” Smile. Meantime, I wonder what she would say if asked the same question. In this interview, she’s wearing heavy eye make-up. Her shoulders are exposed in a revealing gown. Let’s put the same question to her. What are you asking for?

No woman dresses with the intention of going out into the world to be attacked. It just doesn’t happen that way. There’s no such thing as “she asked for it.”

Let’s start here: I believe you. Sometimes in movies – and in real life – the bad guys win. But in truth, this can be a real moment of solidarity. If we stand together, it could be the start of taking back our power.

The #MeToo movement has reached ubiquity: We all know what it means when a woman (or man) posts these words to social media. Ruth gave a powerful breakdown of the situation. In fact, she changed the way I thought about my own history. I believed I could never forgive the men who have harassed or assaulted me over the years. But then a funny thing happened — I made a list.

I listed all the times I could remember someone making me feel unsafe, or someone physically or verbally assaulting me. Over the days, the list grew. It is now quite substantial. But in making the list, the power these people had over me dropped to zero.

Maybe it’s seeing their names, or the lack of them — some names I never knew, some I’ve forgotten, like “Warehouse Creep” and “King of Bear Country.” Just faceless, nameless ghosts. Not even worth remembering. In other cases, it was a matter of perspective. I can look back now on the man who kept calling me “Kiddo” and rubbing my thigh on a car ride home from the first (and last) time I babysat his 6-year-old son, who spent the entire night talking about big breasted women — as if such a thing could mean anything to a child that young — and think, “How little he must have had in his life!” It’s almost sad.

Ruth is dead right: These people aren’t brimming with machismo and confidence. They are insecure. A real man doesn’t need to harass women to get attention. How frightened they must be! How alone! I found myself praying for them: That they find ways to get the attention they want through other means; that they can learn to feel important not by subjugating others but by doing positive things.

But most of all, I pray for a world where no girl or woman has to make a list like mine. Because although making it was cathartic, it’s not a task I would wish on anyone. Because no woman should have to have a list. Because it shouldn’t happen to begin with. Because being sad and pathetic is no excuse.

Forgiveness is divine. But wouldn’t it be nicer if there were nothing to forgive?


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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