I just launched a new podcast series called, The Greater Than Podcast. The release of this project is arriving at a time when our nation is facing serious conversation of what has been a sad history of silencing women over their claims of sexual harassment, in the workplace. This dialogue, as painful as it is, is long overdue.
My podcast focuses on how we rise up in the face of challenge, adversity, disappointment and trauma, to be better—greater—as individuals and as a society. In the case of sexual harassment: how can we cleanse this cultural malady and heal, as we share our experiences in a way that is respected and safe? No doubt, answering this question is on the minds and hearts of millions of individuals across our country today.
Eradicating sexual harassment must be a collective conversation. Often, we have to face the darkest parts of ourselves in order to arrive at a point of transformation.
There is no surprise that the social movement #metoo has spread through every community in America. If I asked women across the U.S. to raise their hand if they have ever felt unsafe, threatened, harassed, or devalued because of their gender; every single hand would go up. Imagine walking through life in this way; it’s a spirit-shattering experience.
To rise above, we must be willing to lift our voices with transparency. Therefore, I say #metoo.
I was a graduate student, in my early twenties and studying broadcast journalism, when I took a job at a local radio station. I was excited to build on my broadcasting experience, prior to entering television news. I welcomed the opportunity to read the daily headlines on-air.
I worked at that radio station for several weeks, before I quit. The harassment I endured, at the hands of the station’s manager, was intolerable and frightening. He harassed me with his words and with his hands, cornering me in his office and also in the station car when on remote location work. I would push him away and tell him to leave me alone. Yet, I was facing a serial harasser who wielded his power over me. It was clear that I had no voice within that situaion. I was not protected. And, so I left.
I left that job feeling broken, undone, and ashamed. I had done nothing to provoke my boss’s behavior, this I knew, yet the shame still covered me. It disempowered me and I suffered in silence. I sought out an attorney when I felt strong enough. That took great courage. The process of depositions seemed unbearable as I had to face this man again and recount the harassment I had endured. I remember trembling at the very sight of him, feeling as if I might throw up. I could have given up, and there were times when I thought that I would. Yet, I knew that if I didn’t speak out then I might risk another young woman having to experience the same harassment. I couldn’t bear the thought of that…
I’m such a believer in the brilliance of women. We have so much to offer this broken world. Yet, we live in a male-dominated culture that, sadly, degrades its women and its girls. Because of this, we’ve been taught not to trust. The need to intercede for and protect each other, woman-to-woman, has been our lesson. It’s also the fuel behind #metoo.
When we speak up and share our stories we say that we are not alone. We are not isolated from each other. In the doing, we empower ourselves to forge a better society for those little girls on the playground, right now, who dream of being everything that they hold within their hearts.
Too many women have left jobs, careers and bright futures because they’ve been harassed and assaulted away. The scars are hard to heal. What have we lost, what talent has been buried, because we’ve protected the predator and not the prey?
I, like you, am filled with query…
It’s been my journey, as a woman of faith, to learn the power of forgiveness. I have forgiven the man who harassed me—not to let him off of the hook—but to free myself from the weight of the distress that he caused. It’s been a renewal of strength for me.
I have also gained a sense of self that comes from knowing how I am seen through the eyes of God. He cherishes me and, therefore, I am to be cherished. All women are. God doesn’t expect us to be silent, hindered, hidden, withdrawn, invisible, or mistreated. He lifts us up from the ashes of shame and of pain, encouraging us to be greater.
Curing this malady of sexual harassment will take time; the issue has been festering over many generations. We start by talking, listening, hearing, and including. We advance when we stop viewing women as objects and begin seeing them as radiant souls, honoring the very essence of who they are. We prosper when we teach our children a new way of being: to love and respect each other, always. We heal the wrongs of this world when God is at the center of all we do. We’ve lost that in America, and I pray we find the way back…
It’s time to stand up. Take responsibility. Be better. Be holy.
Our children are counting on us.