What’s next for #MeToo movement?
I’m inspired and admire all the people who summoned courage enough to share their stories not knowing what it could cost them. Hopefulness and careful optimism characterise this new year and we want the #NotMyShame toolkit and this space to share #MeToo stories to be a part of that constructive future or “the new day that’s on the horizon” to quote Oprah’s Golden Globe speech.
2017 will go down in history as the year high-profile celebrities who had experienced any type of sexual harassment finally stood up to their tormentors, and down they went, one famous male actor, politician and media profile after another. Then came the ocean of stories by ordinary women and men just like myself whose #MeToo stories sounded painfully familiar.
What used to be only spoken about among close friends exchanging stories are now out in the open. That’s why #MeToo is so powerful, it represents a paradigm shift in our culture where the accuser finally has enough power and credibility to speak up. People have had it with going along to get along, having to adapt to the reality of the perpetrators and old gender hierarchy patterns are finally slowly being dismantled.
The staggering number or the blatant abuse of power in the #MeToo revelations didn’t surprise me. I’ve several #MeToo stories and so do most of my female friends and colleagues, what’s saddening is for how long the culture of silence and shaming of victims completely dominated the public discourse and our culture.
It’s easy to see why you wouldn’t speak out; your career, income or reputation could be at stake and the nagging feeling that it somehow could have been avoided if you would have acted differently kept so many from speaking the truth before.
Shame and self-blame thrives in an environment of judgement and secrecy. Everyone who has been there knows the feeling, you intellectually know it absolutely wasn’t your fault, but you still struggle with feelings of shame about what happened. Almost all the people interviewed for the Silence Breakers article for the TIMES mentioned how they had wrestled with a palpable feeling of shame.
“In almost every case, they described not only the vulgarity of the harassment itself—years of lewd comments, forced kisses, opportunistic gropes—but also the emotional and psychological fallout from those advances.”
“Had she somehow asked for it? Could she have deflected it? Was she making a big deal out of nothing?”
And thoughts and feelings like:
“What just happened?… I kept thinking, Did I do something, did I say something, did I look a certain way to make him think that was O.K.?”
“It’s a poisonous, useless thought, she adds, but how do you avoid it? She remembers the shirt she was wearing that day. She can still feel the heat of her harasser’s hands on her body.”
#NotMyShame is an online empowerment initiative to handle and rids yourself of feelings of shame. The six steps include sharing your #MeToo story and the rest of the steps are part of an empowerment process based on the shame research done by the amazing Dr Brene Brown and the research on expressive writing by Dr James W. Pennebaker. Pennebaker’s research shows that writing about a stressful event for 15-20 minutes is a really effective coping strategy.
By writing about it you’re not only structuring your fragmented memories but you’re also taking back the narrative. The story doesn’t live inside you anymore and once you externalise it, you can look at it from the outside getting your prefrontal executive brain center working again and it’s easier to ask yourself; is this really true? The #NotMyShame steps facilitate in making sure the story doesn’t own you anymore and instead gives you the power to rewrite your own ending.
Go ahead, give it a try and please share #NotMyShame with your friends.
Thanks for stopping by