photo by l.villa photography
Like so many of us, I’ve been consumed by thoughts about the #MeToo movement and what’s next. The brave women who shared their stories are the change agents. But what now? What is my role going forward? What is yours?
Two days ago, I read the New York Times piece ‘Weinstein’s ‘Complicity Machine.’ It took me a solid 30 minutes to get through – it’s long and disturbing and I had to set my phone down a few times because it was so upsetting. It goes into detail about the masterful web he spun around him filled with enablers, silencers and spies who covered up for him for more than three decades. They list so many names of so many people involved: agents, managers, assistants, co-workers, producers, directors, reporters, editors, lawyers, actors, actresses, friends, family members...it took a village to keep such a big, horrific open secret.
“Almost everyone had incentives to look the other way or reasons to stay silent. Now, even as the tally of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds is still emerging, so is a debate about collective failure and the apportioning of blame.”
It's not about pointing fingers - clearly, Weinstein is a really, really bad guy and he himself is responsible for his own barbaric behavior. And yet, the article is so disturbing because it's clear he was surrounded by an infinite number of people who remained "willfully blind" and allowed it to happen for years.
We are at the beginning of a movement, an opportunity to create real social change. The victims have shared their stories and now we have to realize how important everyone on the sidelines are - it’s going to require a lot of work going forward from the bystanders. Nothing will ever change if everyone remains willfully blind. From now on, if you see something, you have to say something. You don’t get a free pass anymore. You don’t get to look away or say to yourself or a woman who confides in you, “That’s just how he is.” If you do, then all of this – the momentum and solidarity through sharing these gut wrenching stories – will have been for nothing.
I’ve asked myself a lot of tough questions recently and it’s hard to be honest about the answers. I’ve had to look at my complicity in situations when I was too afraid to speak up, for fear of losing my job or my reputation being ruined because like the women who confided in me, I was afraid people would believe the man in power over us. I feel a huge pit in my stomach as I type these words because I’ve had to come to terms with the disappointment I feel in myself, a self-proclaimed champion of women, for not being brave enough to stand up for them at a time when they needed me.
I’m inspired by and grateful for powerful women in the yoga community like Rachel Brathen and Kino MacGregor for being agents of change in a time where as women, we’re still trying to figure out who our allies are. Our legal system doesn’t protect us – we’re not allowed to say names for fear of being sued and the definition of “harassment” and “assault” vary from state to state and it’s looking like our Senate is about to be filled with an accused child molester who was banned from the mall and the President of the United States grabs women by the pussy – so where the hell do we go from here?
Like so many, I've been trying to figure this out and I believe we can start with solidarity and accountability.
We have to stand up for and stand with each other – and I’m not just talking about women. To all the good guys out there: you have to be on our side too. You have to see that there is only one side to be on. Collectively, we must have empathy and compassion for women who are put in vulnerable situations with men in power. We need to listen to their stories and we have to believe them.
The next part is something we’re going to have to do on our own. We must hold ourselves accountable for what we know, what we see and hear, what we allow to take place in front of us and what we choose to ignore. We need to make conscious choices about who we align ourselves with and what business owners we support – by continuing to work for them, by showing up and giving them money, we give them power. We become an enabler, part of their complicity machine. Through our actions and our silence, we tell them it’s okay and we slowly unravel the work that has been done by The Silence Breakers. Instead of ending the vicious cycle, we perpetuate it – as these men, the Harvey Weinsteins of the world – gain power and continue their disturbing and destructive behavior, potentially hurting more and more women in the future.
So this is a call to action.
It starts with me, with you.
Speak up. Listen. Stick together. Hold yourself accountable for your own actions and behavior and hold men accountable for theirs. Your voice, and your silence matter now more than ever.
It's time for us all to become agents of change.