Lessons From #MeToo: Part Two
This is a continuation of last week’s post on Lessons From #MeToo. Be sure to check out Part One if you missed it.
3. Listening with Empathy
For a man such as myself to listen to women’ stories and attempt to put myself in their shoes is crucial. I do not know what it is like to appropriately realize I may likely be disregarded if it comes down to my word versus the word of someone with a different gender than my own. I do, however, know what it’s like to be powerless and at the mercy of someone more powerful than myself. And I do know what it is like to be mistreated and going without support. So when I listen to women share their stories of sexual or gender-related injustice I often draw from my own experience in order to imagine what it’s like to be in their shoes.
When I listen with empathy I am led to sadness and anger regarding inequity in our society as well as the powerful preying on others. When Dr. Blasey Ford shared her testimony in court I admired her presence of strength, resilience, assertiveness, passion, and courage, because I am not so sure I would have the same ability. How much more difficult it is for those who aren’t as privileged as doctors like her in addition to carrying with them multiple points of intersectionality. Research shows people who are transgender experience the most amount of sex related violence. Research also shows transgender people are given smaller amounts of importance and credibility regarding this issue. How difficult it must be to speak up for oneself when others do not want to listen. I grieve the challenges so many face in our society simply to speak their truths. I’m grateful for the gift of their voices, and I want to be a part of such a movement, and join along with those who have trusted their guts, voiced their truths, and have led the way to a better world. I am grateful in particular for women in my life who have spoken clearly and refused to be silenced. I have been reminded of the importance of listening because others have insisted upon being heard.
4. Me Too
At some point along the way during the past year I have noticed certain memories, which have always stuck with me but didn’t mean a lot. I have come to see there has always been more going on in those memories than I realized, as is often the case with memories that stick with us for a long time. As I have held these memories with tenderness and curiosity I have come to acknowledge my own truth. At first I doubted myself. Then over time, as I noticed what my gut was telling me, I began to recall a visceral sense of helplessness around the memory and gained more clarity about what happened. The assault I experienced was subtle and confusing and I could not have addressed it alone.
Having a couple people in my life I trust to sort it out with, including my therapist, has made a big difference. I have found new freedom in speaking the words my childhood self was not able to. I see more truth and I am able to connect more deeply with the stories and the lives of others around me. Thank you, again, to so many for sharing your #MeToo’s and for leading the way.
Self and collective growth does not come easy. I have meant to bring up a couple important lessons I’ve learned as I seek these goals. There are other lessons as well and this format does not leave room to include the nuance or complexity of anything I’ve said here. These lessons act as guiding principles for me in my life and in my practice. I do not intend to claim they are all encompassing or can offer a complete way forward. Additionally, trusting our gut, speaking our truth, and listening deeply to others are practices we need to revisit everyday. Sometimes it goes in the opposite order and sometimes they skip around. It is a complicated and a difficult path to seek justice, acknowledgement, and peace.
So, thank you to those who have spoken out and insisted upon being seen and heard even in the face of rejection, accusations, and pain. Thank you for trusting your gut, speaking your truth, and practicing empathic listening. I’m sorry for the harm you have known. I hope I can follow your lead, to be more like you, and for a better way forward for us all.
Blogpost has been updated to reflect the in-process learning of author, based on feedback from Michelle Jokisch Polo who is an inclusion expert in Grand Rapids MI.