3 Min ReadCulture 17 June 2019
Being raised Catholic was not my choice. And I questioned it constantly. Part of being Catholic then was learning that there were things you never talked about and never asked about (even if you thought about them constantly). That may still be the case, but I chose to leave Catholicism decades ago.
The phrase "the elephant in the room" comes to mind for such topics. Growing up I felt like there were twenty full-grown elephants in every room at all times, squishing me to the point where I couldn't breathe. Things like, just go to church and don't ask why you have to every Sunday, or we know Uncle Charlie is an alcoholic but just ignore that he just drank an entire bottle of wine at dinner.
As soon as I was brave enough to, I vowed that I would live a life without elephants in the room. Unless I was at the zoo or a nature preserve because I do love elephants—unfortunately for them, their size works really well for this metaphor. I've been living an elephant-free life for some time now and frankly do not know very many others who do. Folks seem okay with keeping particular topics under wraps even if they are losing their minds about them on the inside.
While it was groundbreaking when introduced in 2006, the #metoo movement, which was "founded to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls, and other young women of color from low income communities find pathways to healing," has morphed into a platform for blame and shame to expose and crucify men—oftentimes, unjustly. Look, I've seen my share of men behaving badly or downright inappropriately and getting away with it, but the vast number of men are good people who respect women (likely because they had mothers who would kill them if they didn't).
Girls are generally taught to not display aggression, but we can still show them how to be strong and empowered while being respectful and commanding respect in return. I certainly have no tolerance for any type of domestic abuse situation or sexual harassment of any kind and wholeheartedly believe in education and intervention.
But this movement has inadvertently created a society of distrust and fear—men in the workplace and social situations don't know if they can compliment a woman without fear of retaliation or if they can volunteer to mentor a woman without being accused of misconduct, etc. The workplace at-large requires that men and women respect each other and work together, not create platforms that further divide us. It's just not healthy.
"But this movement has inadvertently created a society of distrust and fear"
Women need to be able to clearly delineate between behavior classified as intimidation or threats from an unwanted pass and a genuine compliment. I, for one, would like to see men continue opening doors and holding elevators for women—that's chivalry, a concept that's been around since medieval times. I am confident enough in my own abilities and how I present myself to the world to not need reinforcement from a man; but if a man says I look nice today, I'm going to thank him for noticing. Just as I would if another woman said the same thing.
My son, who I believe has a high level of respect for women and sees women as equals, was shocked when I told him that I believed the #metoo movement has many unintended consequences; he called me an anomaly. To the contrary—I've had a number of one-off or small group conversations with affluent, professional, smart/savvy women who have confided the same view but would never say that openly for fear of negatively affecting their careers or how the carpool moms might see them.
"My son, who I believe has a high level of respect for women and sees women as equals, was shocked when I told him that I believed the #metoo movement has many unintended consequences; he called me an anomaly"
I feel like I am in a minority of women who have a solid core of self-confidence, are bold enough to stand tall, and choose to (respectfully) escort the elephant right out of the room. How do you define yourself, how many elephants are in your room and what are you going to do about it ?
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Help! I'm Sick of Seasonal Weight Gain!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
How would you deal with the seasonal weight gain that most women experience? I've put on literally 5–7 lbs around my waist/butt/lower thighs and it's the bane of my existence. Getting dressed hasn't even been fun lately:( I know it's "normal," but how do I battle the psychology behind this?
- McFattie in Brooklyn
Dear McFattie in Brooklyn,I'm sorry to hear that the winter blues is making your zipper hard to close. Personally, I roll with the rolls during the dark and frigid winter season, while chalking the glutton up to a basic survival mechanism. The feelings that accompany being out of shape and not wanting to dress cute (because your clothes don't fit well) can be both demoralizing and a blow to your self esteem. In this fantastic post, the author suggests great techniques that include keeping things in perspective and to "Ignore the panic," "Get curious" about your weight gain, and to keep it moving by "getting out of your room." Best of all is the advice to "Remember all things that are more important than this." If these head games don't serve you over time, and you still feel low, there may be deeper underlying reasons to your weight gain. In this case, I suggest you speak to a qualified therapist.
- The Armchair Psychologist