How the Harvey Weinstein/Hollywood scandal fallout can be a long-ranging opportunity
I took a risk a few days ago, with a male friend of mine, deciding to share an experience I had had of sexual harassment a number of years ago.
As we were discussing the fallout of the Harvey Weinstein/Hollywood scandals the other evening and its impact on our personal lives, I thought I'd give it a try to be a bit more forthcoming than usual on this subject that is all abuzz these days; male sexual dominance, harassment and abuse -- and -- related issues.
Unfortunately, it took only a few sentences of exchange for me to discover that my friend’s level of compassionate listening and understanding could rapidly send me back into the private hidey hole where this one story of mine, and others like it, has generally been held in secret, for decades.
In this one area, the conversation was a disaster. However, given the assurance I had, based on past experience, that this particular male has an overall respect for me, as a professional and as a friend, he and I are about to turn the sour lemons of that discussion into lemonade, or so we hope!
At least we are planning to give it a try, with a lengthy, serious attempt scheduled for my telling my story to him, with him taking up the task of doing his level best to be a compassionate listener.
(If you want to give this “storytelling,” story “listening” idea a try – and – aren’t quite sure how to proceed, follow my updates on how we are doing it on this end. Or, contact me, directly, to engage my coaching talents for yourself, personally. Contact details at end of this post.)
The man in question has been a participant in numerous New Horizons community-building conversation programs, over the past few years. And, recently, he attended the launching of our Storytelling Workshop Series. He is, also, now on the New Horizons Board of Directors. In these programs and our various other community development events and projects, he has demonstrated some of the qualities I appreciate most in a man; humbleness and an openness to learning.
Almost unbeatable qualities in fact, in my book! And, so I trust him!
So here we go with a planned, quiet time set aside for this coming Saturday afternoon, weather permitting. “Weather permitting” is that I have been promised a respectable contribution from him, with the aid of his trusty chain saw, to help build up my wood pile in exchange for my time, coaching him through our planned exchange to develop some much needed listening skills for use with his partner.
Sean, as I will call him, has definitely been a good student, a conscientious participant and volunteer in all things New Horizons, showing marked improvement in his active listening and story "listening" skills from where he was a year ago. From this I have high hopes for our endeavor.
Even more fortunately, the good will this gentleman and I have established, over the time we have known one another, has built us both some equity in this thing we call our friendship.
To add importance to our plan for our dialogue, Sean and I each have personal objectives to add to our general intentions for this little experiment we are endeavoring to pursue.
On Sean’s end, he is being challenged by his engagement to a woman who has been raped numerous times. And his skill level for discussing such a sensitive and highly charged topic as sexual harassment and abuse with her, while fairly atrocious with me the other evening, is constantly brewing danger in terms of building health into this relationship of his.
So, I am quite the right woman for him to practice on for improving these much-needed skills of his.
My goals for our experiment are three-fold, and possibly more. For starters, I want to experience how New Horizons might best utilize storytelling to bridge the gender gap for other women and men, especially at this crucial time. Secondly, my spontaneous sharing with Sean, the other evening, up against all the scandals coming out of Hollywood and beyond, made me realize that I have rarely shared the all too many stories I am harboring about sexual harassment and abuse experiences in my personal life.
On those occasions that I did, it was only with another woman or a therapist.
This is making me realize that the Cost of the Quiet in my life on these issues has continued to take a toll I hadn’t recognized, given that I had shared some. But, clearly, not anywhere near enough to completely free me from the damage these experiences bring into a woman’s life. Liberation is, thus, my third objective for the talk Sean and I are planning.
Sean and I, too, are hoping that in our elevating ourselves, personally, through our forthcoming conversation, we’ll, all being well, uplift as well, other of our male-female relationships. And possibly, light a path, by example, for other women and men who might be wondering, these days, how to bridge the divide that seems to be widening, considerably, the gender gap.
If now is not the time to give this holding of secrets up, I can’t imagine when else might be!
So I am choosing, as many other women are, obviously now doing, to let my secrets go, in the service of a new found freedom.
For both Sean and myself, the encouragement men are now getting is that for them, too, a new candor might await, out of talking to the women in their lives about these long-hidden incidents and issues.
I picked up on the internet the other day, the words of Gillian Thomas, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project --
"One of the many positive outcomes of the #MeToo campaign over the last week "is men of all ages realizing the ubiquity of this issue and going the next step further by asking the women in their lives, 'Has this happened to you, what happened?'This reaching out, if it includes respecting a woman’s right to not share, can carry a message of --
“Please tell me your story. I want to listen and learn from your distress. In this way, perhaps we can help make change.
This is my commitment to you, and other women, to be a better man.”In Sean’s case, for example, I am going to be encouraging him to reach out to his fiancée, saying something like this, to get a dialogue started –
Dear One, I know that the kind of things being revealed by the Harvey Weinstein/Hollywood scandals have happened to you. Please tell me about it, again. This time, not like the last, I will listen carefully to you, with as much compassion and understanding as I can.
I might not do this so well, at first. But if you give me a chance, I want to be a part of your healing from these past violations. And, I am going to do my level best to learn how.
Please tell me your story. Please tell me as many stories as you wish so I can support you and learn to be the best partner I can be for you.This is one way that the Harvey Weinstein/Hollywood scandal fallout can be a long-ranging opportunity for both women and men.
For storytelling and story “listening" coaching,
Contact: Anastasia Rosen-Jones
Email: SuperSleuthDSW@aol.com Cell: 240.409.5347