speaking up for women

Come on in. Pull up a chair. It’s a sensitive topic today, and thus I want to make sure we handle it respectfully and well. Let’s address #metoo — the two word hashtag which spread virally last month in the wake of allegations directed at Hollywood mogul and major political player Harvey Weinstein, denouncing sexual assault and harassment.

The phrase encouraged women to speak up and denounce misogynistic behavior; women should never be treated so callously — as if they are only physical or sexual objects. The speaking up has since continued, with allegations seemingly flooding out, directed at persons hailing from all walks of life.

I have empathetically and heartbrokenly watched for weeks, hating to see so many so hurt and so much hurt buried — but I also admire those brave women who have finally felt courageous enough to speak out. Such triggers a few more questions and thoughts… honestly, truthfully, and with tremendous respect…

First, we can’t say enough that any who state that they have been assaulted or harassed should be treated with the utmost sobriety and respect. No matter who is involved, such never qualifies as any SNL fodder.

A few other brief observations…

I’ve noticed that harassment is not an indigenous activity; it’s not prone to a specific people group, party, or politics. For too long, however, too many have seemed to suggest that only one people group has a problem. And as long as we’ve allowed ourselves to politicize something that should in no way be politicized, piling on has been encouraged, frequent, and become a basis for further divisive, disrespectful, social media memes. As we now watch the accusations evolve against multiple people groups, we see that no group has cornered the market on treating all women well.

Unfortunately, with that, it seems a watching public tends to give the benefit of doubt to those they politically align with… we “wait and see” with those who vote the way we like, but we are quick to throw patience, grace, and that benefit of doubt right out the nearest window when political alignment is nonexistent. It thus seems our political stances continue to cloud our judgment.

In addition to the imprudent politicization, no less — and this is a tough but sincere question — what if not all accusations are true? What if some accounts are exaggerated, false, or even unknowingly wrong?

Please go back to our first statement in that any who state they have been assaulted or harassed should be treated with the utmost sobriety and respect. Also, with the current professional collateral damage that seems to accompany accusations, there may exist motive to lie, especially for those among us who’ve convinced themselves that the end justifies the means. The “end,” so-to-speak, should never alter our moral compass.

But there’s one point that seems absent from the public dialogue thus far — and truthfully, it’s a little tricky to articulate — because it’s not quite comfortable nor convenient in 21st Century America. We are discussing the abuse and mistreatment of women in our society. We are collectively saying that we will take this no more; women are not to be treated as solely physical or sexual objects. But what if in our society, there exists an accepted venue that treats women as exactly that?

What if there was an accepted venue that treats women so poorly, yet shockingly brings in more revenue annually than the NBA, NFL, and MLB combined? … more revenue than ABC, CBS, and NBC combined? … more traffic than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined?

The pornography industry is the largest, most profitable industry in the world. And yet, women are treated as physical and sexual objects.

“It’s no secret that porn has become mainstream entertainment in our society,” Fight the New Drug articulately states. “From popular porn sites putting up billboards in New York City’s Times Square to online news sources like BuzzFeed normalizing porn with viral videos, it feels like porn is everywhere you look. Porn is plastered all over social media sites like Tumblr, and it’s easy to see on Twitter considering the Twitterverse is home to an estimated 10+ million porn accounts.”

All women deserve to be valued and cherished. The bottom line is that all women are not valued nor cherished in pornography.

There is much to speak up about and denounce, my friends. Seems like we need more than another hashtag.