This past week on Facebook, there have been multiple daily posts about the Harvey Weinstein saga. Here’s a man who had a great deal of power in the entertainment/movie industry and who would prey on young attractive women to satisfy his sexual urges. Additionally, he threatened, abused, induced fear and derailed the professional careers of what sounds like dozens of women. And with each story I read, it resonates with me with my experiences that I have had and have heard about of other woman I know, that this man, this culture isn’t endemic to the entertainment industry; it’s everywhere.
And yet, we also hear women who may have had interactions with him, but managed to avoid, side-step, or duck and roll their way outta there, seemingly unharmed – disturbed yes, but generally unscathed. What did these woman have that the others did not?
I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my angle here… what Harvey Weinstein did was wrong and I hope our justice system serves not just the victims, but the community. There are many lessons to be learned here.
My angle is one of getting curious about what these victims – if they could do anything different – if they could influence the next generation of young women, what advice, what lessons, what would they do differently in the same situation? We may all be created equal, but life has a way of imprinting into our psyche powerful associations that trigger us and launch our reactions and behaviors in different ways.
As a parent of two teenagers, I hope and pray that my husband and I have done enough to instill good choices in our children. In their younger years, we practiced safety and stressed the importance of using the tools available to us for them to protect themselves. Wearing your helmet, seatbelt, locking doors, and always letting a parent/guardian know your whereabouts. But what if your home life hasn’t been a safety zone? These many lessons get minimized, ignored or mocked.
I listened to a video clip where Emma Thompson was interviewed by the BBC. She calls out the “crisis of masculinity” and that it’s been a part of our culture since the beginning of time. Should there be “leadership” classes in schools? If they learned it and practiced it at school, would it get undone when at home?
I learned much later in life about the dysfunctional culture in which I grew up. I started to connect the dots when I finally took a good hard look at the patterns in my life. I could give you a long list of others to blame for them but at the end of the day, I was the common denominator. I just didn’t have the tools or know-how to do it any other way.
I read stories of women who stood up to the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world and I admire them. I take notes. And I imagine myself handling the situation similarly. It empowers me.
I also imagine what my life could have been like if I had learned the lessons, had better tools and skills from which to use to handle difficult situations while navigating life. It’s become my mission to learn them, share them and help others (especially my kids!) to gain them. It’s a long and arduous process to undue, heal, forgive and relearn experiences. If anything, the struggle has given me perspective and many opportunities with which to connect with people.
In the words of Brene Brown, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” It’s why I became a certified coach. It’s the work I do. I provide that safe space in which others can be vulnerable. It’s a space that rarely exists for people – and so desperately needed.