Scrolling through my Facebook feed earlier this week, every other post resounded with #metoo. If you haven’t seen it, you may be asking, “Me too, what?”
There are now variations of the original post, but here is the gist:
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
I searched Facebook with the hashtag. Story after story after story broke my heart. I see the revelations and admissions of my friends, of strangers, some feeling guilty because they feel like their harassment was slight compared to the weight of the assault of others, some lamenting how their mistreatment greatly shifted the trajectory of their lives. For some, this was the first time they ever became public with their pain.
#Metoo is a wave of women joining voices together to make a world that routinely objectifies and demeans them notice. Hear. Pay attention.
Today, I added my own #metoo.
As a runner, my stomach has turned numerous times as I have seen men contort their necks so they can ogle me out their car windows. I have passed construction zones and heard whistles and catcalls. I have jumped with fear due to honking horns and words flung out of windows with little thought of how I might feel about them. In those moments, I no longer am a person, I am an object.
Related: Women Are Daughters, Not Objects
One could say I am being overly dramatic. One could say this is some form of appreciation of the female form. One could say, yet again, that boys will be boys. One could say we should just be stronger and blow it off, that this is how the world works and we should just deal with it.
But #metoo says that this way isn’t working. This way is causing destruction, not just to women, but also to girls, to boys, to men. This way is corrupting all the good that God intended for beauty, for sex, for relationship, for words.
#Metoo is a cry for validation. It’s a cry to be seen, to be valued and loved and cherished.
And some of you men, you do such a good job of this. You do see us. You love the women in your life well. You respect our gender. You respect our beauty and you defend it at all costs. You understand that God made us for His purpose and you don’t use us for yours.
If I look at my experience on the trail, on the road, if I sum up all of the encounters through thousands of miles of running, more men have been kind than rude. They have smiled and waved in solidarity of being runners together. They have been polite and respectful. Men I do not know have seen me struggle up a hill in a race and instead of hoarding that coveted oxygen just for themselves, they’ve used it to breathe life into me with words that are encouraging, that make me want to be my best self, that let me know that I’ve got this.
#Metoo can’t be anti-men. #Metoo needs men. #Metoo needs men’s voices to say #nomore. And not just on social media, but in their daily lives, in real life encounters. #Metoo needs as many people as possible to invest in creating a culture where all life is valued and respected.
Related: The Essential Reason Porn Is Wrong
#Metoo is about changing our mindset in this generation and for every single generation to come. We can’t just talk about how we’re going to raise our kids to be different. Our words of instruction and our intentions have to match our actions. We have to be different today if we want our kids to be different tomorrow. So, what do we do as men and women, for ourselves and for our children?
Take away our filters.
We all have prejudices, times when we are narrow-minded and biased. Instead of ignoring them, do something about them.
When you say the wrong thing in front of your kid (or anyone for that matter), apologize. Then, instead of moving on, move in. Figure out what’s behind that statement, what motivated you to say it in the first place, and what you’re getting out of saying something like that.
All those internal thoughts and beliefs shape how you see the world. How you see the world shapes what you say and how you act. This, in turn, affects the people around you. Your kids absorb this way of thinking and, in many cases, they will perpetuate it.
In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray—that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is” (VOICE).
If you need help uncovering the root of the issues, find a counselor, a pastor, or a trusted friend to help you talk it out.
Have the mind of Christ.
Speaking of Jesus, He loved women. What I mean by that is that He never demeaned them. He was caring, loving, and uplifting. Always. He gave them stature when they were thought of culturally as property. He saw them as worthy and valuable when they had been considered worthless, not only by society, but even by the very men that married them. It’s not that Jesus just acted like He loved them. Jesus’ thoughts matched His actions.
Seriously, thinking dirty thoughts about women is just as bad as saying them out loud. It might make the situation easier for the people around you, but it’s doing damage to your own soul. Take your thoughts captive. Ask Jesus to replace them with how He thinks.
Related: How I Fight Porn Images in My Mind
And before you move on from point number two, there is a line of thinking used quite often to justify porn use that says, “Some women choose to flaunt their bodies and their sexuality. I’m just taking what they’re giving.” But here is the deal: most of these women are flaunting and/or selling themselves because it’s their last resort or because they have been so beaten down with the lie that they aren’t worth anything more than porn (or any type of seductive behavior). Their behavior comes out of pain, of brokenness, of despair.
When Jesus met the adulterous woman, He didn’t look at her with condemnation, nor did He blame her for the mess she was in. He didn’t give her what everyone else thought she had coming. He met her with kindness. He gave her a way out. He paved a road to something new, something different—grace and unconditional love.
See something? Say something.
If you see harassment or assault happening, don’t let it go. Judging by the sheer number of #metoo stories that people are airing for the first time ever, there is a huge need for advocates. People who have been assaulted or harassed end up carrying guilt and shame (that does not belong to them, ever) and it’s crippling.
What do you do when you see a person who is hobbling and needs help physically? You help them get up and where they need to go. Same thing applies to harassment and assault. And if someone continues to injure their legs? You step in. You give them a voice when they forget how to use their own.
Appreciate true beauty.
We all need to appreciate true beauty. God created us to enjoy and seek true beauty. Unfortunately, the world has corrupted what it means to appreciate beauty.
Related: Transformed by Beauty
When you’re having lewd thoughts or you’re tempted to engage in lewd behavior, yes, take the thought captive. Submit it to Jesus. But then go one step further. Thank God for creating beauty. Ask Him to show you how to engage in healthy ways with His creation, with His beauty. Because it all belongs to Him.
It’s not enough just to stop bad behavior. We have to cultivate good behaviors.
It works along the same lines as addiction. For example, we can’t just stop engaging in porn, but we also have to fill our lives with something that is good for us, like intimate relationships. Don’t believe me? Read what Jesus said. God didn’t create us to be empty voids. If we don’t fill our lives with good things, the bad things will multiply.
If you truly believe that women are worthy of respect and honor intrinsically—no matter what they do or who they are or what they look like—this means you will treat every woman with respect and honor.
Not just your mom or your wife or your daughter, but also the runner on the street or the young lady waiting in line at the club in the miniskirt and low-cut top. It means not catcalling, but it also means not judging her and talking about her behind her back.
It also means you won’t participate in viewing pornography because this behavior feeds the sex-slave trade, reinforces the demand for more porn, and rewires your brain to objectify women and view them differently.
Men and women are different, but we are all part of the human race. As Christians, we are all on the same team. It does nothing to degrade each other, to speak down to each other, to dismiss each other, or to turn a deaf ear to one another’s pain. As men and women, we must truly listen to each other, open our minds to each other’s perspectives, validate each other, and empathize with each other. This is what it means to truly walk in love as Christ loved us. What if one day #metoo was a movement that recognized not the pain caused by each other, but how we were affected by the great love and care for each other?