the "ME Too" hashtag

By Peter Jenks | Oct 18, 2017

The recent revelations about men with power abusing and mistreating women has been a remarkable movement in our society.  A change is happening, and it is profound.  The assumptions of power are crumbling.  The old rock myth of rampant sex and groupies, the casting couch of the movie industry, the uncontrolled behavior of men in power over vulnerable women has been a part of every aspect of our society. And now we are beginning to address a long overdue summons towards justice.

 

I have been following the news of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and others with interest. There seems to be a general unfolding of past actions being revealed and women, who have been dismissed and degraded, are finally being heard. There is something larger going on, it is a deeper understanding of relationships, a more open awareness of power, sexuality, gender, personhood, and how we relate. The thread of connection, stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions can be followed all the way back to Adam and Eve and how we understand their story.

 

All of this news has been a wonderful and engaging exercise in meditation, reflection and soul searching. Intellectually, I have been grasping the implications of the news, and have been surprised that people are surprised that women were being victimized in the movie industry and in the workplace.  But I was unprepared for the "Me Too" hashtag campaign.  When two women in my life whom I have known since childhood added their "Me Too" to the list I was no longer working on an intellectual level.  I was angry.  From my primordial self I was reacting.  These girls are precious to me, I have a deep care, love and protective core in my being and I was angry at anyone who would treat them in any way inappropriate.  I was not surprised. They are both accomplished and beautiful women. But it still hit me hard at an emotional level.

 

When I mentioned this to the yoga teacher, who offers classes at the church, she shared her stories of abuse with me. And then when I discussed this with my wife, she, too, added her stories.  It is hard. I am in no way surprised intellectually, but the uncovering of what has been evident all along was thrown off the bed of my denial or diversions.

 

None of this happened to me.  I cannot imagine how I would respond if it ever did happen to me. Being that these things have happened to people closest to me and with whom I am very much in love, makes my deeply sad. I want to protect, I want to be there for these people, but I wasn't able to be.  It is much larger than me, I know.  But there is a need to feel such at this deep and personal level.

 

The problem is a male issue inflicted upon women.  We, as men, need to reassess our roles, our expectations, our relational identities in profoundly new ways.  It is the same with regards to racism, which is inflicted upon minorities such as blacks, by the majority white population. It is a white problem, inflicted upon the minority mostly black population.

 

The problem is not one I can fix. Knowing it, feeling it, and deeply being with it takes a commitment of time, effort, intellect, and repentance. The work is what will help to make me free. The bondages of blessings that have blinded me for so long and crippled me from running the race that has been set before me have seemed normal, and I have never wanted to give them up. Will I rise with the courage to act, to be, and to be redefined from the DNA of my social upbringing?

 

When a blind person gains sight, everything that was known in the mind of blindness is redefined. Can I understand my own blindness, when I have assumed I was seeing?  What I have been seeing, understanding, and living have all been clouded with the fog of privilege.

 

It is one thing to march for the right to vote, to break down barriers of discrimination, to overturn painful injustice. It is another thing to release the hold of control and power that has benefited from such, and to step down from centuries that have defined my gender.

 

The dreams of accomplishment and achievement that I always pursued and hoped for as I grew up never materialized. I have spent my life as a white male in a time of redistribution. There is no map, no role models, no heroes to follow - only the "Me Too" of those I love most that leads me on, along with a one year old granddaughter and another one on the way, to look me in the eyes with a love that illuminates everything with a new light from their eyes that reveals a new world.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 19, 2017 09:10

Thankful for local spiritual leaders, like Peter Jenks, who address issues that face us ALL.  It is a place where healing can begin by offering up hope to our hurting society.

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