Tenacious. Having tenacity. Be tenacious. Defined as “not easily pulled apart” or “persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired“.
Tenacity is what the founder of the #MeToo Movement, Tarana Burke “hopes” for in the future regarding the #MeToo movement and this is exactly what we need to focus on. #MeToo is not just a bandwagon movement that we should donate to or put on our list of volunteer organizations because it is not that – it is the US every day. Every day bonding together to make a change and provide the support that is sometimes silent but must always be steady.
I have two daughters. Both of them are strong-willed, capable young women who I know will make a difference in this world, but there is a silent killer lurking around them, and it is sexual violence. When someone said violence to me a few years ago, my naive brain thought of weapons or fists or something that would physically be causing my body harm. I did NOT view violence as anything less than physical. I did not account for emotional harm, I did not account for mental harm, I did not account for social harm. That is the issue here.
Sexual violence is not only the act of being raped or molested, but its victims face harm beyond the physical harm, and one would argue equally as impactful. Tarana Burke goes on to speak about “dismantling the systems of power and privilege that allow sexual violence” and while she confirms that the best people to lead those efforts are those that have experienced it, we, those that have not experienced these horrific acts of injustice and violation, must be their voice when they can’t speak and for those, like my daughters, that do not know how to speak for this.
I did NOT view violence as anything less than physical. I did not account for emotional harm, I did not account for mental harm, I did not account for social harm. That is the issue here.
In my previous article about the early release of Bill Cosby, I highlighted a few actions we can take to support this tenacity and these tenacious folks who lead us down this path. Movements are only as powerful as the people moving them and our voices are the constant reminder needed to keep us moving forward.
No time than the present is better for us to continue to fight the political battles that need to be fought to help disrupt the system that has been built to enable sexual violence and for most of us, we do not even realize we are victims.
I have worked for large corporations for over 20 years and every year we get a host of training and development required trainings, one of which is workplace etiquette and harassment prevention. Watching the videos, they give the idea that the advances or inappropriate behavior is blatant and able to be quickly recognized as such. That is not the case.
i-Sight published their 2021 Guide to Workplace Sexual Harassment and the statistics are alarming. In December 2020 they cited that 69% of women have been sexually harassed in a professional setting and what is even more upsetting was that 72% DO NOT report it. My initial thought when I saw this was “WOW, that’s high” and then my second thought was “how many of those women just coughed it up to be “in jest” or “normal banter” amongst peers“. Capping off their guide they cite a settlement made to an employee of $168M.
When you think of a system you think of something that works repeatedly, or a “well-oiled machine”. Systems, when put in place correctly, are built to last, but when the system is disrupted, the entire process is at jeopardy. This is how I like to think about sexual violence. Disrupting the system that puts people in positions to carry out and walk away from their violations.
Disruption is where we must start. We must take an active role in disrupting the systems that are in place that are putting us at risk. Just like you have every right to work, you also have every right to be safe while you are working. Investigating what your employer or a potential employer offers in not only support and confidentiality, but also in training and employee awareness is important.
Tarana goes on to share that her vision for the future is about “hope” for the victims and about “healing and action”. While employer policies, training, and intolerance to reported acts will disrupt the system, we cannot move too far without the voices of our victims. They need to heal. They need support and to be carried when they feel weak so that their voices can be strong when the time comes for them to face their monsters.
Providing support for these victims is critical so they may “walk in our full humanity” and that support takes resources, time, funds, and dedication. No better time than the present to find your local groups and organizations that support these efforts and find a way to be a part of them.
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