Change the conversation.
Hello Fluvial Fans,
Been a while, eh? Life keeps flowing here at Chez Fluvial and I can’t tell you how excited I am for spring. Spring has historically been the time when my mood dips the most (odd, right?) but this season, I’ve been blessed with feelings of excitement and joy rather than the blues. Hurrah! (I also was hit with a nasty case of S.A.D. in deep winter so maybe my body just got sick of being sick.)
Winter is a great time to reflect. What’s working? What’s not? Any stories about yourself or the world that need a rewrite? Are you happy? Do you have full experiences? These are the questions that come through my head and when a thought pops up, I do my best to sit with it and answer honestly for myself. Both Mr. Fluvial and I are ambitious and passionate about our careers and we both feel that our career (and life) goals are more likely to be accomplished if we are living a present life. As in being present. Feeling the feelings. Having the hard conversations and being open to growth. One of the less pleasant impacts of this kind of emotional honesty (for me, at least) is an increased awareness and sensitivity to anything other than supportive language both in every day life but also in the larger social context. Sarcasm becomes more pronounced and irritating and, on a larger scale, I’ve become especially sensitive to racism, sexism, and other unproductive ‘isms. Of course, the Ohio rape trials haven’t helped and have placed my brain squarely on the target of ‘Change the conversation’.
What do I mean by ‘Change the conversation’? The amount of victim-blaming and sorrow over the ‘ruined lives’ of the teenage rapists is astonishing and I can’t believe that in 2013, this is where we are at as a culture. Seriously. On the positive side, there’s also the increasingly louder talk of not just teaching our girls how to not get raped but also..teaching our boys not to rape in the first place. All of this is good and I’m glad that we’re finally talking about the root cause of rape and other sexual violence (hint: it’s not because a girl drank too much or wore a low cut top). But even while we’re talking openly about sexual violence and a cultural shift towards a society where women can walk outside and not fear the stranger walking too closely behind her, I keep hearing hateful language towards women usually focusing on insults of gender. How is this helpful? Can’t we change the conversation?
Most recently (as in, an hour ago), I read a thread on Facebook centering on Facebook COO Sheryl Sanderg and the authors dislike of her. The author’s opinion is neither here nor there but one comment really shocked me: “Is that the FB twat?” Again I ask: how is that helpful? How does that comment help to rid this culture of sexual violence?
Comments like that are made ALL THE TIME and it’s infuriating. Especially infuriating when they come from people who should really know better. (for the record, I do not know the individual who made that comment so I can’t speak to his awareness of the crass nature of his words.)
Let’s change the conversation, shall we? Let’s be pro-happiness. Instead of using hateful, catty, unproductive words, let’s lift each other up. I’m not perfect…like, seriously, but I do know how it feels to be bullied, sexually wounded, and insecure. So why would I contribute to those feelings in another woman? Or human for that matter.
I challenge you to change 1 conversation today. Lift someone up when you were about to put them down (even if it wasn’t to their face). Feel real emotion. I’d like to think that as conversations change and demeaning insulting and otherwise damaging language is weeded out of our collective lexicon (specifically towards women), we may inch closer to a safer world.
For more information about conversation starters on this topic specifically, check out King County Sexual Assault Resource Center’s ‘100 Conversations’ campaign here: http://www.100conversations.org/ The goal of the program is to “…promote respect, consent, and health relationships both on and off-line.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. 🙂