So many of you by now may have read the #MeToo piece I wrote over on the Women in Aid blog. I’m really grateful for the ever-expanding circle of women surrounding the creation of that post and the subsequent conversations that have occurred.
Every single time a person shares their truth, it unlocks a part of another person’s strength and ability to speak out. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year about the power of organizing, it’s getting to the collective “NO!” that brings perpetrators and the institutions that protect them to their knees.
As we discuss next steps, a friend suggested that we develop a larger theme that is more systemic and solutions oriented like“the future is woman in #GlobalDev.” It was important moment of reflection for me, about why survivor stories are such an important first step, and one not to be rushed. So I’m sharing my response to her below:
Thing is…we’re not the future. We are the now. We make up well over a majority of this sector’s workforce, and yet we’re far from proportional leadership. Yes, I share a deep hope that in finding and using our own and our collective voice on this issue, women will become stronger and more unified and effective advocates for addressing all forms of systemic violence, sexism, and racism in our sector.
We want to move to solutions way too fast in our line of work. I firmly believe the solutions are within us – in understanding our own collective power. We don’t always have to rush to “fixing.” It’s one of the things that the patriarchy has instilled in us – that we have to take responsibility and clean up the messes made. This is being done TO us, and as [one of our members] explained so eloquently yesterday, many who have been fighting this fight for a long time are so, so tired. So just adding new people in the mix and keeping the pressure on – not letting the dialogue die – perhaps that’s the most important thing we can do right now. Let these organizations and institutions feel it, and have to come up with the solutions, and let us be consulted if proposed changes will work. Let us, for once, rest in our power.
In other words, let us focus on building solidarity and let them be afraid of us.
And let us honor that a big f#%&ing shift of consciousness is occurring and that it was brought about by the women (mostly of color) who helped usher it in and who still bear the most brunt of it. Let’s also realize that we have so, so far to go. This is a long game. No need to rush.
Let us be present to ourselves and each other first.
And then…my friend reached out to graciously remind me that having a strategy doesn’t have to take away from the steps it takes to heal.
Maybe, healing is strategy.
A voice has finally been given to the heritage of pain which has been passed from mother to daughter from generation to generation as we taught one another how to survive in a world of sexual slavery since the dawn of civilization. It will not be pretty when it first comes out. It will not be sexy. It will not dance for male sexuality as it has been trained to do like a good little girl. It will roar, and it will destroy.
Change is coming. What looks like women talking about their experiences with rape culture is actually a vast area of endarkened human unconsciousness suddenly becoming enlightened into consciousness. A whole section of our collective consciousness which we have never previously had access to is now suddenly becoming available to us. The old structures will not be able to stand on this new ground, as they were built upon the old ground.