There are many reasons I am immensely inspired by Oprah Winfrey, her tenacity, her resilience and her capacity for empathy, being a few. But her acceptance speech (she won the Cecil B De Mille Lifetime Achievement award) at the Golden Globe Awards last night, completely took my breath away. (So much so I have been inspired to write two blogs today!)
It goes without saying that as the very first black woman to receive the Cecil B De Mille Award, she is making history. It goes without saying that Oprah, a woman who has endured so much abuse and inequality continues to inspire generation, after generation, by her ability to overcome. But it was the linear of her speech reminded me of a conversation I had with a Dear colleague last week. We ended up talking about abuse and the #metoo campaign and amongst many things, he felt like the #metoo campaign has tainted all men. He talked passionately about how not all men abuse and in-fact, the majority of men don’t abuse and it was a shame that, that had perhaps been forgotten about.
Statistically of course he is completely right, the majority of men DO NOT abuse.
I responded by saying that I felt the #metoo campaign wasn’t about the incredible men, it wasn’t about the men who don’t abuse. But that it is about those that have and DO. It is also about the victims of abuse and perhaps it is also about anyone who isn’t directly involved, but by default become complicit by remaining silent. We become complicit by exhibiting behaviours that become acceptable, fiercely embedded in popular culture so much so we may not even be aware of and perpetuate. We become complicit by ‘acceptable’ behaviours embedded in entire industries, institutions and the workplace that are “just the way it is”in order to progress.
I explained that I didn’t think that men that don’t abuse have been forgotten about – but that the spotlight wasn’t on them. That in order to breakthrough and uncover the magnitude of claims and cases of abuse, first you have to raise awareness and to hear people’s stories and more-so to believe them, not deflect by focusing on those that don’t and haven’t abused.
It reminded me of the diversity educating that I do, in the same way that not all people are racist or homophobic etc….I often hear a common rhetoric “there is only one race, the human race” or “All lives matter”, and the equally common rhetoric; “not all men abuse” – All of course are true statements, however when we start to focus on the “majority” we lose the impact on the cause. Focusing on the majority alleviates our own discomfort. When we focus on the majority, we lessen the impact on those who are sharing their truth, those who have been abused and /or are experiencing oppression. Sometimes we have to ALL sit in the shame, to accept what is and what was, to sit in discomfort to enable us to truly understand, empathise and truly breakthrough to make long-lasting change.
I invite everyone who simply cares about equality, everyone who has ever faced any form of abuse of power, anyone who has responded to the #metoo campaign with the ‘not all men abuse’ rhetoric, please watch Oprah’s Golden Globe speech.
Header Image: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)