Tuesday, 17 October 2017

About Our Stories

Media exploded with stories about Harvey Weinstein and the affair continues to flow with added topics like hashtag Me Too. It may feel like there was enough said and written. But I am compelled to talk.

When Harvey Weinstein's story came out not many people were surprised. He was probably unlucky that it was him who was named and dragged through press. I believe there are many others. Powerful men who used their position to their advantage and quite possibly considered it absolutely fine. He is probably feeling like the world is unfair. He may be genuinely surprised that the fact that he helped so many women isn't recognised. Women, huh? All about mixed signals, ambitions, flirting... how is a man supposed to read them? Why aren't they grateful for what they have? If it was so bad for them, why were they quiet for so long?

I grew up in mens' world. I took it for granted that men held power, had authority and behaved in a certain way. Men ruled our world for centuries. White men ran the world to be specific. For a long time women and minorities seemed to know their place. The world is changing and it is hard for them to grasp it. I do hope that Weinstein's story will make a mark in our history, that the attitudes will change and we will move closer towards equality.

I didn't consider it wrong to learn early in life to be careful. My point of view was that it is easier for me to take control of my safety than it would be for some random bloke or a very sick individual to take control over his hormones or ideas. When young women recently came out with statements about victim shaming and our right to wear whatever and go out and get drunk; I shrugged and thought about snowflakes. But after last week I can see that there is nothing wrong with demanding our voice to be heard, with ending the shame game and moving towards solutions instead.

I was led by men, I was used by men. I made mistakes. I saw it as my own failure. I thought it was my fault. I was never abused or raped so I considered myself lucky. But I was made uncomfortable and sometimes went further than I wanted. Last week reminded me about my past dark experiences. And I do understand a lot more now. I was young and eager to go ahead. I also wanted to be valued. And of course I wanted a great relationship.
Men are good at leading us on, manipulating, playing power game. Where we are eager to please they see a right to have whatever they want and only the best. It may have to do with our upbringing, the way boys are strong leaders and girls are polite and 'nice'.
Men build strong friendships and they are loyal. If someone like Harvey boasted to his friend about his latest adventure, chances are he would get a high five and be told that he is 'the man'. Either his friend would honestly think that or he would feel like he should. Even if he had doubts he would think that he better man up and strive for being the top dog. And so the culture could thrive.
The woman involved would most likely feel ashamed. Chances are she wouldn't tell her mum because her mum would quite likely consider it to be her fault - she led him on, she was asking for it. Her friends may not be very supportive, too. They may pass the story on and start a bad gossip. They may make her feel more at fault. Women are competitive, even as friends. Some may go through similar ordeal and would never dream about sharing the story. They may put the negativity into other woman's experience and make her feel bad for both of them. So silence seemed to be the easy option for long.

It isn't easy to come to term with experience like that. Boundaries are blurry. But we are talking and it is good. Women need to man up and stand up for themselves, men need to 'woman up' and think about other peoples' feelings. That is of course simplifying it, but it is my take on what we can learn from scandals and hashtags. I am glad that we are moving forward. And I wish all the best to the incredible people who got themselves through tough times.

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