Not too long ago there was a story on National Public Radio (NPR) discussing the word of the year. According to journalist and co-host, Kelly McEvers, “This year’s options were pretty bleak.” In fact, the story cites Jane Solomon, a lexicographer for dictionary.com, as identifying “dossier, collusion and fury as a few of the words the site’s 80 million users looked up most frequently”. While popular, none of these words hold the title for “Word of the Year”; that dubious honor belongs to complicit. Complicit: helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way #WhatDoWeTellOurDaughters Click To Tweet The winning word says a lot about the kind of year our country has had. As if to nail home this point, NPR CoHost McEvers reported that searches for complicit were up over 300 percent from last year.
adjective com·plic·it \ kəm-ˈpli-sət\
Popularity: Top 1% of lookups|Updated on: 3 Dec 2017
Definition of complicit :helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way
- He was complicit in the cover-up.
In light of what we’ve seen in recent weeks, I cannot help but wonder if they declared the winner too soon. As we awake each morning to a new name, a new accusation, and a new resignation; a nationwide calling to the carpet, I can’t help but believe reckoning should be at the top of that list. The fires ravaging California are symbolic of the reckoning occurring across the country. The narrative of gender, of power, and of abuse, ignored for far too long became like tinder, highly flammable and waiting for the right spark to send things into motion. Much like the raging wildfires roaring across California, once lit they are hard to contain. And, I can’t help but think that perhaps they should not be.
Once upon a time . . .
We raise our girls on fairytales replete with a steady meal of handsome princes, coming to their rescue with life-giving kisses. If evil is to be wrought it’s at the hands of another woman, usually a wicked stepmother and the Prince’s kiss is never stolen.
I say let the fires, raging out of control, usher in a land marked by new growth. Ladies, now is our chance to step our of the role of absent or evil mothers and stepmothers. Now is the time for us to step forward and change the narrative. Let’s take on the mantle of truth tellers. Let us not be complicit.Now is the time for us to step forward and change the narrative. Let's take on the mantle of truth tellers. #TruthForOurDaughters Click To Tweet
The truth is that sexual assault, sexual harassment and the oppression and abuse of women by men is nothing new. A recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll found that
“More than half of American women have experienced unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances from men, three in 10 have put up with unwanted advances from male co – workers and a quarter have endured them from men who had influence over their work situation . . . among women who’ve been subjected to unwanted work-related sexual advances, eight in 10 say it rose to the level of sexual harassment , and a third say it went a step further, to sexual abuse. This translates to approximately 33 million American women being sexually harassed, and 14 million sexually abused, in work – related incidents.
Mommas, this is the truth we need to prepare our daughters for. Our #MeToo moments cannot be limited to semi-anonymous hashtags and twitter posts. These moments must be the start of a narrative that begins at the kitchen table and ends with #NoMore. And, this is a narrative to be shared with all the girls, not just our own. The stories (just like the bad actors) cross race, color and socio-economic backgrounds. This is not just a white women’s issue. Nor is this an issue limited by industry or the “C” suite.
I want to challenge you to commit to sharing your stories with your daughters, nieces, and mentees. By sharing our narrative with the women in our midst we empower each other through a sense of shared experience. However, let’s not stop there. Let’s take these stories one step further and move from #MeToo to #NoMore.
Today, we have an opportunity to set the expectations for generations of women to come.
You have the opportunity to help set a new tone and tell a new story. When we decide to step forward and change the narrative for what is acceptable we refuse to be complicit.
Stepping into the light
The reckoning that is occurring right now, this scorched earth approach raging across the country, is to be expected. This is never more true, especially in light of the fact that in the above mentioned poll “of those women who’ve personally experienced unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, nearly all, 95 percent, say male harassers usually go unpunished.”
Women are angry and frustrated. Whatever the match that set the blaze there is no undoing it. They can only hope to contain it. Women are coming together and demanding that something change. We are demanding an accounting.
“Female victims, meanwhile, suffer an emotional toll: Among those who’ve experienced unwanted workplace-related sexual advances, 83 percent say they’re angry about it, 64 percent felt intimidated by the experience and 52 percent say they were humiliated by it. Fewer, about three in 10, felt ashamed.” (ABCNews)
Can we agree to allow every women and girl to have a voice? Each should have the opportunity to tell her story, to share her narrative should she choose, and to do so without condemnation. The power of each story is not in the unique details but in the unique lives it is rooted in.
And, once the story is told, let’s refrain from taking on the role of judge or jury. While each claim of harassment or abuse, especially in the work place, needs to route through appropriate channels, our role as mothers, sisters and friends is not to determine the likelihood or veracity. Our role is to support the victim with kindness and compassion; to provide them with a safe environment within which to be brave.
With each retirement and resignation there is a new opportunity. As management teams, boards of directors and Human Resource officers review files and clean house a new dawn fast approaches.
Are you prepared?
One of the ways we can change the status quo and upset the dynamic in our country between gender and power, is to disrupt who holds the balance of power.
Now is that time .
Now is the time to apply for that promotion, or that “C” suite job. And, there has never been a better time to run for office. Whether you start with a school board position or a senate seat, either way you’re acting in a way that will begin a slow and subtle shift in the power dynamics that exist.
If we want things to change, we need to be willing to take steps. We need to be willing to lay the groundwork for the next generations, for our children and our one day grandchildren.We cannot expect to exchange our #MeToos for #NoMores if we are unwilling to take any steps, any action toward demanding it. Click To Tweet
Not all of us will apply for that promotion or run for office but we can still add our voice, our vote to the narrative of #NoMore. The abuse of power, especially when tied to sex harassment and/or abuse, cuts across party lines. I don’t care how you vote so long as you vote with your conscience and with a keen eye toward accountability and stewardship. Vote with the expectation that everyone answers to someone.
I will not be complicit
Momma, you have a voice in this narrative. You have a story to share for your own sake, for the sake of your community and for the sake of your children. Do not let this great reckoning pass you by. Use it as an opportunity to share with your child. Set the expectation high for them when it comes to how they will be treated in the workplace, at school, at church and in a relationship. Teach them what is acceptable and what is not. Remind them that it’s okay to speak up and say “NoMore”. And then, encourage them to do things like run for office. Have them start with student council and show them how they can step forward to lead in other areas.
#MeToo is just the start of this great reckoning; how will you and your daughter(s) add to the narrative?