GWC Debate - Facebook Brussels - October 2019*
[Adapted speech to blog format]
I know I have chosen the less favourable side of the debate. In any case, I have found myself countless times in this same position -and speaking up, has always helped me moving forward. So I will do it once more.
I believe that MeToo has gone too far in aspects that are not relevant to the fundamental changes that we need today. Therefore it runs the danger of being taken less seriously than it should be.
My name is Vicky, and I am originally from Argentina. As you might know, a predominantly “macho” driven society. I grew up in a country where official statistics say that every 31 hours, a woman dies due to domestic violence.
With 37 years in this world, I was a victim of sexual and psychological harassment from both men and women. Also, in both environments, personal and professional.
In the years I suffered from anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression (mild and severe) and panic attacks.
I feel I have the right to say that I have my collection of colourful experiences. Those that shaped me for who I am today and how I see the world.
I hope that this gives you a glimpse of who writes these words.
When I was invited to this debate, my first question was: #MeToo has gone too far in what aspects? In its global outreach? In the number of women opening up and reporting abuses? In making it clear that women suffer harassment? In the raise of feminine empowerment? In creating for the first time in history, awareness of this reality?
I particularly do not think that MeToo has gone too far in these aspects.
I strongly believe that this pandora box needed to be open, and us; deal with it as a society. Nothing wrong with that.
As a natural development, MeToo started expanding to all the sectors or areas where women found themselves in disadvantaged positions, WHICH ARE MANY, as we all know. But it also went to incomprehensible lengths, which even women question the validity of statements.
And for this, I will agree with Tarana Burke, the originator of the movement when she says that we are putting too much weight on the shoulders of #MeToo.
There are some stretched opinions and radicalised positions that do not talk to all of us equally. And I have observed that these harm the noble cause we have, rather than helping moving it forward.
Today I will write about five of these opinions, and I give my reason why #MeToo has gone too far:
1. “Men should shut up and listen.” Even though men have to listen attentively and learn, we cannot order in a patronising way as if we (women) have the only and absolute truth in our hands. I feel that if men only “listen”, we are undermining their vital contribution to this movement. Men have to listen, no doubt! But they also have to talk, and actively, DO! They need to update their mindset and consequently, improve their behaviour to build together with us new social conventions.
2. Weaponising a gender, “just because” in the majority of assaults reported ARE men, leads us to automatically isolate the “remaining” good men and put them outside of the equation. Therefore, we jeopardise having more people that are striving for an equal future as we do. To clarify: I do not think this should be a war of women against men. I do not believe in any conflicts, but if any, that should be between good and evil. Even if reported cases of sexual harassment happened 90% of the times in the hands of men, this percentage is far away from representing ALL MEN on earth. I propose you to not talk about wars between genders. Instead, I invite you to rename this violent narrative –and focus on constructing, on building on re-questioning how we want to develop men and women relationships.
3. “Social Media Court”. While Twitter and Facebook served as the channel to put this conversation on the table, it also provoked damages, by leaving an open field to unproven accusations and public humiliation, without any scrutiny (because of course this creates trending, hashtags and public opinion lights up). We all have our share here today.
So, what does MeToo teach us from this? That there is no clear leadership and consensus on what “sexual harassment “is. And how we should define it, and where we draw the line.
4. “Guilty until Innocent.” If that is the price that men have to pay, so be it. We are observing a manipulated Public Opinion that took a bit too far the instant gratification of publicly denouncing inappropriate behaviours; by automatically condemning what appears in the platforms. While such sensitive facts need to be supported and funded. I am not saying DO NOT BELIEVE WOMAN, all I am saying let’s create a structure where disproportions of this sort do not affect even MORE the parties involved.
Megan Twohey, writer of the book SHE SAID, and creator of the report that broke the news of the Harvey Weinstein case, shared in a recent interview: “There is [absolutely] a need to push forward with the systemic changes that make sure that both, the accused and accusers are adequately protected.”
5. “The future is female.” The discomfort we had to speak up before the movement was - to my opinion- the lack of female role models that make us strive for a better world — the lack of spoken values, the lack of guidance, and the silent consensus we all believed we had to follow. While I think that more women should be in leadership positions, I am not comfortable in polarising and make it “female” only because we will be falling in the antagonism that we want to get out of. Again, let’s lead with the example.
These, I find, are the opinions and positions, that only harm the progression of an equal world, and backfires negatively.
We have a noble cause in our hands, but on many occasions is deriving into a wild social media carnival that benefits only a partisan viewpoint. The more we fight against each other, the less we will find a solution.
These were not the reasons that originated the movement back in 2006. The principles of the movement were: you can talk, and you are not alone, you are understood. It was empathy, not war.
I think that we still need to learn and grow as a society. We are still somehow immature to practice the art of empathy as a collective. Otherwise, we would not be talking about these topics today.
This also explains -on a parallel note- why we have chosen so many leaders around the world (in politics and companies and institutions and even in simple human groups) that are predominantly of psychopathic and narcissistic characteristics. MeToo is not only a men/women problem. It is a deeply rooted and chronically ill perspective of entitlement and “getting away” with it until I get caught.
I firmly believe we have a mission of shifting society perspectives and narratives. We need to change, but this change needs to come from women and men jointly.
As per the words of Tarana Burke in her TED talk last year: “Power and privilege do not always have to destroy and take. It can also mean to serve and build.”
And we can use this little power gained in the last two years, fruitfully.
We are just learning how to deal with unspoken truths of such a magnitude that we are still trying to find common ground. Every movement is far from perfect, and its complexities are diverse. Therefore, I invite you all to question and polish our approach; only then we will be able to learn from our mistakes and move forward.
Vicky Martinez Dorr is a qualified Branding Consultant, Business and Leadership Coach, Speaker and Author with certifications in NLP and TimeLine Therapy® and Magna Cum Laude from Solvay Business School in Brussels, Belgium. With her universe of words, she is on a quest towards helping leaders reconnect with themselves, thrive and move towards an exemplary leadership world.
Her 15+ years of MarCom experience in International Branding and Multicultural Leadership have taught her how to bring beauty out of chaos in any organisation and people's professional lives.
Her findings within the fragmented leadership, have moved her to start working towards a more authentic business world and more humane leadership culture.
Vicky is also an Artist, a serial Entrepreneur, CEO of the Start Up www.yourbrandstory.eu and Founder of www.atreefortheplanet.org LinkedIn: https://be.linkedin.com/in/vickymartinezdorr Reach out at Shine@vickymartinezdorr.com
*[Adapted speech from the GWC Debate for blog format]