I was going to write something about local government ordinances today, but I’ve got other things on my mind.
It’s been just over a month since the Harvey Weinstein story broke and destroyed the levee which held back a flood of incidents of sexual assault that have secretly existed in our country for far too long. Women (and men) are coming forward in droves to talk about their stories.
I’m coming forward today to say: “I’m sorry.”
When I was younger, from middle school through college, I was an active and willing participant in the “patriarchal” or “male-dominated” or “rape” culture that pervades our society. I admit, 100 percent without any denial, that I viewed women (with the exception of members of my own family) as objects. Women in my eyes were seen through a selfish lens. They were there to fulfill my physical desires, to take care of my emotional needs. When it came to the opposite gender, I had neither the time, nor the patience for their critiques of my character. The same sentiments applied to their needs.
There is nothing that will justify this line of thought or behavior. It is wrong, period. But with that said, I want to offer insights on my mindset, just in case one of the five or so people who might read this blog might be feeling the same way. I hope you will heed these words and work on changing your mindset.
I had deeply low self-esteem. I’m not sure if it was depression because it was never formally diagnosed, but if it wasn’t depression, it was damn close. I thought that I was not responsible for my emotions, that I needed someone else to come heal me, to love me, to take care of me. That, without that external validation, I was nothing, nobody and would never amount to anything.
Obviously, I was wrong: I, like everyone else, am completely and solely responsible for managing my emotions. I learned this lesson the hard way, but the many women that saw some semblance of good in me, who could look past my glaring flaws to form a meaningful relationship with me and like or love me for who I was, had it even harder. Like countless other women, they bore the brunt of the worst of me(n) and for both of those realities, but more specifically my own, I am deeply sorry.
So now what? How do I acknowledge the sins of my past and move forward and be a better ally? Well, for one, I’ll listen more. Women, people of color, heck anyone who is different from you, is going to have a unique perspective on our society. Listen to it. This is going to not only broaden your perspective, but allow them to lead you. Which leads me into point number two: I’ll allow myself to be lead. Women have been leading us since the beginning of time. They continue to do so, just this year the woman organized Women’s March drew one of the biggest crowds in human history. I was there, it was incredible.
I’ll continue to tell myself, and others, that I’m not perfect. The notion of self-perfection, and the lack of it being a source of shame, is pervasive. News flash: we’re not. None of us are. But if we commit to not making the same mistakes, to actively listening and learning to do better, then maybe we can help others.
I’ve spent the past seven or so years after I graduated from school reckoning with myself to do better in this particular area. I haven’t always been perfect (my wife is a frequent and justified critic of my listening skills) but I’ve seen improvement. I’ll continue to act on these sentiments to put these feelings into action to help empower women everywhere.
You can do so as well, by giving to one of the organization’s below (along with countless others):
Planned Parenthood: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/
My Sister’s Place: https://mysistersplacedc.org/
DC Rape Crisis Center: http://dcrcc.org/
End The Backlog: http://www.endthebacklog.org/
Girls Who Code: https://girlswhocode.com/
May justice prevail.