Do words matter?
In the throws of the #MeToo campaign, many people, especially women, have emerged and have started to reflect on situations when they felt invaded, intruded upon, where boundaries were violated and in many of these cases, the women are now reflecting on why, in many of these cases, they didn’t even say anything about it.
I have personally been sexually harassed at multiple previous places of employment through my life and was overtly told I would lose my position if I spoke up about what was going on. In other situations I was blamed. Not surprisingly, as others I stayed quiet.
So where does this come from?
When people introduce male doctors by their titles and credentials, and then introduce the female physicians by their first name and comment on their figure or clothes… what is the message about their value and worth?
When people make dumb blonde jokes and the subject of virtually ALL of these jokes are women… what view of women does this present?
When men or women stand around commenting on women’s breasts or butts, and rank them against one another… what does it communicate about women’s most important and valued assets?
When teachers tell girls in elementary schools they can’t wear certain clothes because it “distracts the boys”, (who are also allowed to snap their bras)… who do they learn is responsible for the boys actions?
When the majority of “women’s magazines” are focused on beauty products, clothing and articles about “how to keep your man happy”… what are we saying is women’s role in society?
When the majority of the rallys and information gatherings about sexual violence are attended by women, yet the majority of perpetrators are men… it sends a message.
We are in the midst of a cultural shift where men and women throughout the world are getting that women matter equally to men and they are getting it in a way that was not previously present.
This is happening because we started talking about it. We started a dialogue about what was happening and how it was impacting people.
We started to develop a language that has empowered people all over the world to connect and start sorting through what makes sense as acceptable behavior, and what will be considered crossing the line.
Motivational saying on chalk board with chalk
We need to do this for ourselves also!
We have learned to speak to ourselves in a certain way. We have learned to speak to others in certain way and to present ourselves and interact with the world a certain way.
Just like the #MeToo campaign, we need to seize this opportunity to actually REFLECT on what we learned.
Perhaps, just because it has always been that way, doesn’t mean it has to continue this way?
Notice if what you have learned about how you use your words is still serving you well? If not, begin the process of change!
Start with noticing how it feels when you talk to yourself a certain way. Notice how it impacts your body. Notice how it impacts what happens next and how it impacts how you interact with others.
When you get better at noticing when it is happening, you can begin to intentionally use DIFFERENT and more empowering words instead!
Until next time!