I realize that I am jumping into this internet conversation a bit late, but I thought I would share some thoughts in light of the #metoo movement. I also recognize that being a man in this conversation may not give much weight to my words, but I hope that they will help bring awareness to the issues and empowerment to women who have been objectified. I also hope to address men, even the good ones and encourage them to not let this movement pass us by. We need to be a part of the change we wish to see in the world.
First of all, I just want to say from the start that my eyes have certainly been opened to the magnitude of the issue of women being sexually harassed, mistreated, and assaulted. Too many of my Facebook friends wrote the hashtag (#metoo) on their timelines. When I saw the first few, I was shocked, but when I began to see more and more of them write on their timelines, it was heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe how many were saying #metoo.
The #metoo movement has given voice to women (and some men) who, for various reasons, felt they needed to keep their painful experiences hidden from others. And I just want to say, I am amazed by your courage to speak out. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to overcome fear and shame and boldly declare #metoo. And for those of you who have experienced your humanity being taken from you but refrained from typing #metoo… again I can only imagine how difficult it would be to recollect your thoughts of the past and experience the stings all over again. I pray and hope that you would experience freedom from the sting of the past, or even for some… the present.
Because it wasn’t ok for that to happen to you. It wasn’t ok for those things to be said about you. It wasn’t right for you to be treated as an object and to have your humanity taken from you.
For too long, men have disempowered women. The track record is brutal when we take into consideration all of human history and look cross-culturally. Even current stories of how women are treated in some cultures are deeply distressing. And in some of those cultures, the disempowering of women is so systemic that it distorts men’s worldviews to see it as normal behavior. Even in North American culture, the objectification of women is rampant. Sure not all men are Harvey Weinsteins but even the slightest suggestive behavior communicates the power differential.
It was never meant to be this way…
God didn’t create us so that one of us could disempower the other. God create us to be equal. He created male and female in His image. In other words, we were created to co-reflect the image and nature of God. The bible says that God is love. It isn’t just something God does, it is who God is. When men and women relate to one another within the realm of love, honoring and preferring the other’s thoughts and feelings, we are living within the realm of who God is. That means we are to empower each other to be who God created us to be.
So again, I am not sure how much weight these words may have, but I just want to say to those who have been mistreated and assaulted, humiliated and objectified, disempowered and manipulated…
I am Sorry. On behalf of the people who selfishly took advantage of you, I am sorry. On behalf of those who thought it was ok to treat you like a slave, I am sorry. And on behalf of those who treated you like you were only good for your appearance and for sexual gratification, I am sorry.
And to the men and women out there who share in my hope to see this change in our lifetime… for sure let’s voice that #Iwill stand up for inequality and stand up against the sexual mistreatment of others. However, we need to do more than just type #Iwill. We need to model how men and women ought to relate to one another. We need to be examples for others to follow. We need to create new normals and new cultural paradigms that push out the existence of gender power differentials.
I believe the best model to follow is Jesus. Jesus lived in a culture steeped in patriarchal norms and values. Yet He brought dignity to women and empowered them. He gave them a voice and saw them for who they really are. One half of God’s image-bearing creation.
In the book of Galatians, it says that in Christ, all the social divisions come down and we are all one.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
So May God help us in creating a new world where sexual disempowerment is not only not ok (hope you caught that weird wordage), but also non-existent. May we truly live out the “oneness” that Christ came to redeem within humanity.