#metoo: What Can We Do?
This #metoo movement on social media is eerily similar to the #notokay explosion from last October when millions of women took to social media to share the story of the first time they were sexually assaulted. Back then it was in response to a recording of Donald Trump’s triumph in grabbing women and this time it’s in response to the revelation that dozens of women have suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein.
Movements like #metoo and #notokay jolt us awake and bring us back to reality. We rub the sleep from our eyes and say, “You’re still here? You mean to tell me that women are still mistreated at the hands of men?”
Many women see the #metoo comments of their friends, sigh, and say, “Yeah, me too.” Many are triggered and all of us are overwhelmed again by the magnitude of the problem. But others don’t believe it or minimize it. Just last night I was in a group of Christian men and women who all agreed that the mistreatment of women is largely over—the pay gap is gone, rape culture is a farce, what are we complaining about?
The truth is, every woman can say #metoo because to grow up a girl in a fallen world is to grow up ingesting messages that say your value is equal to what the men around you can get out of you.
These messages come in all strengths and sizes. They are as subtle and insidious as a five year old girl being cooed over, “You’re sure cute! Do you have a boyfriend? I bet you’re a little heartbreaker on the playground.” Or they can be as monstrous as a young woman being raped and told it’s her fault and to keep her mouth shut or else.
What can we do about #metoo? What can Christians in particular do to move towards a day when fewer and fewer women have to say #metoo?
- Men, please listen. Please don’t tell the women in your life that they are overreacting, that they misunderstood, that you or those other men were only joking. The #metoo movement is your chance to hear about trauma that has colored her world forever: a boy demanding a kiss on the bus, a man exposing himself at the park, an uncle forcing himself upon her, a night in high school with too much alcohol, an older woman implying that provocative dress and sex are the way to the top. Listen even to what may seem a small infraction to you—in the formative years of a young girl’s life, mere words shape her understanding of her place in our world.
- Let’s all recognize that it’s a very short walk from objectification to victimization. One need only glance at a magazine or the movie screen to see plainly that the female body has been objectified and commodified. Men and women alike can ask, “How am I complicit in using the female body?” Let’s do hard and self-reflective work and find where we have passively let culture turn women into something to be consumed.
- Women who have been victimized, whether in word or deed, please know that the violence committed against you does not define you. You are precious to the Lord and his face “is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). As Christ did, you can entrust yourself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). Be comforted in knowing that Jesus has experienced the reviling that you have. He sees. He knows. He has been there too. And he will “work righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6). Any shame or condemnation you may carry is not yours to bear. The enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy you, but in Christ you have abundant life (John 10:10).
- Lastly, let’s raise a generation of girls who know their worth and their value. Let’s raise girls who know they were created by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). Girls who know that because of their creator they are very good (Genesis 1:31). Girls who believe they are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Girls who know they have gifts and abilities (Romans 12:6). Girls who are tenacious about the work they have to do (Epehsians 2:10). Let’s raise up a generation of girls who walk in the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) because they know who and whose they are. These are girls who will walk in the truth and not settle for treatment that’s less than what they deserve as daughters of the King.
These things—men pausing to listen, a culture who questions its consumption of females, refusing to be shaped by those who have sinned against us, and raising girls who know who they are in the Lord—will not stop sexual assault over night. But it’s faithful work that seeks to change a culture from the inside out. As my generation keeps sharing #metoo, God will shine his light into the darkness and our daughters might be able to say one day, #notsomuchanymore.