This is NOT OK With Me
This is NOT OK With Me
I want to talk about the power of circle. I want to specifically talk about the power of circle around the #metoo movement. Have you read Salma Hayek’s New York Times article? Talk about speaking up in an eloquent and brave way. She inspires me to use my voice, even when harassment I faced wasn’t nearly as devastating as this experience she boldly wrote about.
This is a powerful time, a climate where we women are circling together to use our combined voices to express intolerance, share our truths and create change.
How can we more powerfully use this moment of collective consciousness to create transformation for both women AND men? This is the question that is hot on my lips lately. Every chance I get to talk with girlfriends, aunts, cousins, my sister, I am eager to hear their stories and ask “How are you feeling about this moment in our history?”
SO…I want to ask YOU...how are YOU feeling?
One thing that I know to be true about this time is that while women are circling the wagons in an extraordinary way and giving power to ALL women’s voices and experiences in a way we haven’t seen before; these stories are unique, vulnerable, and personal.
I’d like share the story with you that called me to write this.
I had the chance to speak with a reporter a few weeks ago when Garrison Keillor was fired from his contract from MPR. I declined, even though I wasn’t surprised. I declined out of my desire to be careful with my words and share my story on my own terms. Also because, while Garrison Keillor was a flirt, he had not assaulted or harassed me.
Mr. Keillor did contacted me a few days after I performed on his show with my dear friend via email. He expressed his curiosity about me as an artist and let me know that he had a huge crush on me. All of this intertwined with a desire to help me in my career. It was very exciting to have an artist of his clout reach out to little old me. Did he really see something in me that would lead to a big break in my career or could he not get past my physical features or whatever it was that reeled him in and made him think it was ok to flirt with me? I was fascinated with this artist, had great respect for him and was hoping to learn and grow and catch a break in my career. The fact of the matter is this: he had a wife and daughter whom I MET. He did not scar me for life. I’m not traumatized. I don’t feel like he needed to be fired for his flirtations towards ME. So I kept quiet. And I feel ok about that. There is a time and place to let it rip.
I read back over the emails. As I read his comments, I remember how they made me feel: uncomfortable, disappointed, and familiar. For example, he wanted me to send pictures of myself to inspire him as he wrote a film about a female singer in a band, a role I’d be perfect for. I am no dummy to this behavior. And instead of calling him out, I kept my response professional and friendly: check out my website for headshots. He was charming and made me feel like I was his friend, so I didn’t really feel threatened, but again more disappointed at the comments about being the women of his dreams and putting me in his movie. Because, really, was he going to do that? No.
So here is the thing, the rereading of our email/chat correspondence made me think of all the times men have used their words both in a sexulally offensive way or with flirtation like Mr. Keillor did. I have always rerouted in my discomfort. I have not stood up for myself. Like the time a Doctor my mother worked with grabbed my 12 year old budding breast and asked me “Are these things growing yet?” or the time, at a gig where my friends came to see me sing, my friend’s Father replied “I’d like to have you for dessert” when I suggested dessert after the show. I feel angry. I wish I would have spoken my truth. I have forgiveness for myself of course. But no more will I sit quietly and take that abuse.
So I write here, to you all, to share MY truth. I have gotten used to the comments and disrespect, and more often than I’d care to admit, chalked it up to “guys being guys.” We have put up with this behavior long enough! Just because you are a man does NOT mean that you can touch me or force yourself on me. Just because I am dressing in a way that makes you feel like I am asking for “it” does NOT mean I am asking anything from you, sir. Just because you are rich and famous does NOT give you the right to use your power to lure my dreams into your bed. This is NOT your right.
No more, circle. NO MORE. No more will I allow my shock at the words that spill from a man’s mouth keep me from calling him out. No more will I let my loving heart worry about how HE will react to me standing in my power. I will not be quiet anymore. I can feel a fire in my belling rising to speak up, stand up and dial up my power to make an impact during this important time in history.
I can feel change in the air. Can you?
I also feel and recognize the eggshell floor that many men are now walking upon, whether they are guilty of crossing a line in the past or worse. Or perhaps they are even a respectful man that wants to connect with a woman they admire but now fear they don’t know what the boundary is? So, dear ones, here is the second thought I want us to reflect on and offer solutions to: how do we, as women, react in a moment where lines are crossed so there is no confusion to a man? How can we teach men what our boundaries are? How can we speak up more powerfully and clearly so they learn how where our lines are drawn?
What if we guide them in our honesty? What if we continue to speak our truth and if something doesn’t feel right we, we speak up? What are some words we can use to convey this?
That makes me uncomfortable.
I don’t like the way you are touching me.
I don’t like the way you are looking at me.
I don’t like the way you are talking to me.
I will not allow you to speak to me this way.
What makes you think you can behave this way?
That is not ok with me.
You are crossing a boundary with me that is unacceptable.
These are ideas that I have been reflecting upon. This is a dialogue to spark a conversation during a sensitive and inspiring time. I’d love to hear more! Comment below so we can keep this circle stronger and braver until love is what leads us. It’s coming friends but I have a feeling it will be dark a bit longer before we see the light.
Before I leave you let’s connect this to our yoga and meditation practice. The more we cultivate a practice that conjures space for our truest self to shine, the easier it will be to connect to our voice and have the power to use that voice for positive change. In our practice, our fears and learned behaviors (which will always be there by the way) will fade for a moment and our roars will surface ready to inspire and make change with a fiery. Do you believe that? I do now more ever.