Women Speaking Up

By Syltoya S. Sterling
IG: @syltoya_s_sterling

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve heard the numerous women’s accusations against Hollywood movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein. While their stories may differ, what their claims boil down to is that Weinstein’s a sick, sick man who long ago stunted his own evolutionary growth, resulting in a dead conscious. Despite his monetary wealth, he is seemingly piss poor in the morals department, and finally, after decades of allegedly sexually abusing, harassing, and mistreating women, he and his ego are learning that no amount of money can buy good karma.

But this was just the catalyst; the substance needed to bring about a long overdue backlash, the effects of which will resonate more profoundly than his movies ever will. In the midst of so much pain and anger allegedly caused by one man, millions of women around the world have joined together to emancipate themselves from pent-up pain, shame, and guilt, and have begun to speak up about the inexcusable wrongs committed against them. Doing so has led to powerful moments that have the potential to become a great, unstoppable movement.

First, let me thank and acknowledge activist, Tarana Burke who first created the “Me Too” campaign a decade ago to reach sexual assault victims in underprivileged communities. Tarana Burke, thank you. To every woman who shared their #MeToo experience, I sincerely thank you, too.

We are living in a time in which things that were once kept hidden are now revealing themselves. It is my hope that #MeToo, and your personal experiences, have blown the lid wide off that crock of bull that a woman must choose between her career or not being sexually harassed or assaulted.

The days of:

Stay quiet or risk being judged
Stay quiet or risk being blacklisted
Stay quiet or risk being called a liar
Say something and not be heard
are over.

These are NOT our only options. And just because some have used them in the past, we don’t have to use them in the present or our future. As painful and as scary as it is to come forward and speak up about something as hurtful as sexual assault and harassment, it must continue to be done. In doing so, we are setting the right example for our daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters and every other innocent child and woman out there. Moreover, in the process of our standing up for ourselves, we knock down that which no longer serves us and free ourselves from wrongful shame.

“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle? ‘Me too.’”
-Brene Brown

What’s in the dark will always come to light, but the days of waiting for somebody else to flip that switch are over. It wasn’t until I started speaking about my own childhood sexual abuse that I began to heal from it. It wasn’t until realizing that I wasn’t alone that I began to learn how to take my power back. It seems as if everybody knows a woman who has a sexual harassment or abuse story, and yet we’ve somehow just gone about our business as if this is normal. I say, no more to this!

Being a woman does not mean we have to accept or learn
to live with harassment of any kind from anybody!

Women, we have to keep speaking up today to ensure a better tomorrow. Yes, there will be some people who would rather point fingers than lend a hand, criticize rather than sympathize, and judge rather than support, yet we mustn’t allow those types of people to deter us from what we must do. We need to continue to unite and remember what it means to be a woman. We must forget this notion that we’re separate and alone, for, in reality, we’re all connected, all one. We must continue to speak up and support each other and allow love to start healing the pain.
While you wouldn’t want these things happening to your daughter, sister or female relative, it needs to be realized that regardless of who was hurt, each victim is somebody’s relative and, more importantly, a human being. Relationships should not determine for whom we sympathize. When one of us is victimized, we’re all victimized.