October 19, 2017

#MeToo and Our Chance To Create a Better Tomorrow For All

There has been a lot of talk about how women are being treated in general in today's society in the past week. I am glad the communication has started. 
Finally, we are talking about it. This is the beginning of something great. Today is a great day. 
You've probably all read about the Hollywood director, that I won't bother mentioning the name of, and how he abused women for years. That is how ultimate power must feel huh? You are the biggest dude in the Hollywood and you think you are what, God? It gets normalised that you can just assault women but hey, I'm the biggest director and that makes it ok? Fuck that. No, it doesn't. Actions have consequences.

This past week has been full of it. The Hollywood story and the #MeToo campaign sparkled a lot of conversation and women are coming forward, some years later. Many of them years later. Many of us years later. And I think this is great. Because you know what? I think women around the world who have been abused have never felt less alone that in the past week. Abuse makes you hide in yourself, it makes you become smaller, and lonely in this. And when people around you don't bat an eye when it happens it speaks volumes too. But not this week. This week we are speaking up. I have seen so many #metoos that it makes you cringe. This is not ok. This is not anymore »oh, but it was a little thing. I'm sure no-one would care about this if I report it, they would laugh at me« thing, this is huge and we can now see that is happening to everyone around us.

Reese Witherspoon came forward and addressed it in her acceptance speech. And I don't care that she spoke up after 25 years, I don't care. The important thing is, she did. Because, you know, we psychologists know fear can be huge, but as soon as you share it with someone and just tell it to someone that fear it's a little smaller and then a little smaller and then you know it's not as big as it was before, and that's it. You have the power again to be in control. Not controlled by fear, but controlled by you. I hope she will be able to sleep better now. Good luck Reese, and thank you for sharing your story.

Lena Dunham came forward with a beautiful article about how powerful men are not coming forward with a statement. With any statement. That to me speaks volumes. She also writes how she has experienced Hollywood. Thank you Lena, for you sharing your story too.  

Everyday we see more women from all types of industries and backgrounds coming forward saying that this happened to them. Some of them are more famous therefore have a bigger reach, but women are coming forward from all sides. I mean, how many of them need to come forward for us to understand this is a big problem, and we need to start seriously addressing it? How many? Millions? 

Isn't that one of your friends enough, or your neighbour or your ex-classmate or your coworker? How many do you need to open your eyes and realise this is not ok, and we are not gonna stay by and let it happen anymore. We stand up for each other. When you see someone in need of help and can't help herself, why not step up? I did it before. And I'll do it again. You can too.

I have many critics when it comes to Slovenia and the way things are done there, but I have to high five my country for one big thing, as for during 22 years growing up in Slovenia I have never felt inferior to the boys. Ever. In Slovenia, it's general knowledge that people respect and value people who are hard-working so they either study and they study hard or they have a job and they work hard. I was always good in school, so I had no problems. I also had summer jobs and some sort of financial independence. I went to a lot of parties, but I always knew the balance. Many boys didn't really study in school so they had bad grades.. You see where I'm going? I never felt inferior. I also studied psychology, so my classmates were mainly girls. But still. That was my experience. It's when I went abroad in my 20es that I started noticing things. In the UK it was mostly social class inequality, but I must say that here in Brussels I see more gender inequality problem. I took me time to realise what I was actually seeing. Most of the time is so subtle that I brush it off. Believe me, it's a horrifying feeling when you discover just how much of brushing off you did in your life. Or in the office.

Mayim did a great video and opened a discussion about how we raise the little boys in society. I agree with many of her points, but her points aren't anything new – she pointed out all the factors that make us human beings who respect the other people in society. And this applies to all of us, not only little boys. Treat people as equals with respect.

I've been talking with many girls here in Brussels coming from many parts of the world. And when we share our stories and our views of the world we can see that we are always coming up with the same 3 main problems.

Being treated as property
The more I'm growing up the harder it seems to be getting. I mean, it's everywhere. It's like I can't walk down the street without someone staring or I dropping a comment or approaching me, I mean, what is this? Let me enlighten you. It's a hot October day which is a rarity, I wear shorts, go to the park to enjoy the sun and after that, I go to work, and omg from the look on my coworkers face you'd think I came to work in my underwear. Can we stop commenting women's bodies like we are observing the value of a car? And then the comments, and I was like »Geez, it's a pair of legs. I'm sure you've seen them before«. Your reaction isn't my responsibility. Mind you, with all the sexualised adverts and music videos and the list go on and on. Or meeting someone in a group setting and you smile twice at a guy, and the one next to you tell him straight away »she is single ;)«. What. The. Fuck. Is. This.?! Do I go around selling you on the street like a piece of meat?! No, I don't. Is it so much of an effort to ask the same in return? And second, I can take care of myself and most importantly, I make decisions by myself. If I need advice I will ask for it, if not, just be quiet. And these above were just random occurrences, not the ugly ones.

Being talked over aka mansplaining
I love how people who read few self-help »psychology« books or few scientific articles come to me and explain psychology to me. And think they have the same knowledge as me, who owns a master degree in psychology. That will never chase to amaze me. Two weeks ago I had a guy explain to me the Pokemon Go game when he never played in his life after I told him I like to play it. Colour me shocked. Pissed off too. What is this?

Being told how we feel
You'd be surprised by the number of encounters that I had when I was told by a guy that this is how I feel. And I tell them, no, this is how I feel. These are my feelings, right? I sure damn well know how I feel. And they just won't get it. And again I ask myself, do I go around telling people how they feel with complete disregard to their actual feelings? No, I don't. Can we please treat other people with common human decency? Actually, listen to others when they speak? Can we start doing that? We are not asking to be treated as goddesses, we are asking to be treated as human beings.

And what I would really like to stress to all the men out there, please, this is not me saying all men are shit. It's not. What I'm saying is, we all need to contribute in real life in real situations to get rid of this problem. 

As in, stand up for other women, support other women, and don't joke it of you know it's »whatever«, it's not. We, women always supported you (think of your sister, mother, friend, girlfriend, all of them in your life), and now we are asking you to support us in this. 

It's in the microsystems that changes are the most effective and then influence all society. Start from there. And see the change happening. 
Let's create a snowball effect that the world has never seen before. Take it as a challenge.

Let's create a better tomorrow. Together.
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