I think a lot of men have a hard time imagining what it feels like to be a woman who is often prey to to the forces of misused external power, particularly in the masculine form. As women, we live in a constant state of knowing that our bodies can be possessed by another human at that human's free will. Most of us do not have the kind of defences we would need in order to remove ourselves from certain harmful situations.
Just today I was walking on a local trail, making sure to stay in a fairly “safe” zone. Initially I was thinking about large animals that live in this part of the world like cougars and bears and how I’d rather not encounter one while I’m out on my own (mainly because I can never keep it straight as to what is the best way out of encounters with certain animals—do I play dead, make myself big, or run away?)—so I stuck to the main forest trails near the main roads, the ones that are likely the most well travelled by humans.
I was on the side of the trail with my camera in hand playing around with taking some photos of the snow and frost on the tree branches. I heard engines and men's voices approaching and and I looked up to see two quads roll by being driven by two young men. They were going pretty slow at this point and one of the men glanced back to get a second look at me, and while I initially felt no threat, thinking that perhaps he was looking to see if he knew me (small town) or maybe he was curious to see what I was doing. The thing is though is that I realized in that moment, which was just the same as most moments that I live within, that these men, could, if they wanted to, do whatever they wanted to do with or to me and I would have no defences or witnesses. Like I said, I didn’t feel threatened by these men in particular but it made me think about how how much threat women live with because of the way society has unfolded. I am a fairly positive minded person by nature and so I like to see and imagine the best in all situations. The reality though is that we cannot control what other people choose to do with our lives or how they choose to become involved in our personal space. Our best option when someone is using their power over us is to fight and scream like hell in the hopes that the attacker will give up or someone nearby will come to our rescue, but sometimes this is not enough.
I feel like there are a lot of people who look at the #metoo movement and see it as a way that women are choosing to remain a victim to their experiences—but I see it as a way forward to a greater acknowledgment of what the true reality of being a woman in this day and age is like. I would like to say that I am fully aware that it is not only women who are sexually harassed, abused, and assaulted, although I think it is perfectly fair to give only women a moment at the microphone that has otherwise been reserved for those of the opposite sex. We are not here to make ourselves more important—we are simply here to make it known that we are important.
If we want to heal this abuse of power on a greater level that encompasses all of humanity, we must acknowledge the truth of what is happening and how it feels to walk in this world as a vulnerable woman, continuously under the threat of falling prey to the misuse of power. While I would like to believe I am safe in most situations in life, I know there is a very clear truth to the fact that there are certain places where my safety is threatened, there are certain times when my safety is threatened, and there is certain company with whom my safety is threatened.
The reason I speak up and out about this subject is because I would like to do what I can to move humanity forward into a place where women no longer feel threatened by the misuse of male power as they go about their daily lives. I know I may not see this in my lifetime (heart sinking feeling arises), but at least I can take steps to make this a possibility for future generations. Men need to know they will be held accountable for their actions—they need to know they owe the women in their lives respect and honour—if only for the simple and profound fact that we gave them life. They need to know that they do not have the power to take our own lives away from us. They need to know that their actions will be spoken about, their names will be revealed, their actions will not be tolerated. It is extremely important for women to be able to trust men again—we need this balance to be regained. We have lived too many years, too many generations where we have been seen and treated as lesser beings and we are done with that way, we are ready for change, and we are going to make sure it happens. #youtoo?