If my junior national team soccer coach was in line to sit on the Supreme Court, I would share my story publicly now. If that chiropractor in Beverly Hills was being considered for the Supreme Court, I would tell my story publicly now. If that mega-producer and those filmmakers were nominated to the Supreme Court, I would tell my story publicly now. And, if that guy in high school was on the cusp of a lifetime position on the Supreme Court, I would most definitely tell my story now. Because I haven’t forgotten what they did to me, nor will I ever forget. Their actions still haunt me to this day.
How many hours, not to mention dollars, have been spent by survivors of sexual assault in some mode of therapy (or other ripple effects of PTSD) as they cope with the pain and trauma of the past? Now more than ever, women like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, are bravely coming forward to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment – and they are being heard and believed.
But too often men in positions of power are still able to shield themselves from the repercussions of their actions. We see a circle of support form around these men, while the female survivor is questioned, scorned, and then rejected. The determination to silence survivors of sexual assault by rushing through the fact-finding process or brushing off allegations is a sign to every woman and man in America that those in power STILL don’t take violence against women seriously. And it is heartbreaking. Moreover, the threats towards Dr. Blasey Ford, or any survivor brave enough to come forward is not right. It is immoral. It is uncivil. And it is unjust.
We have an incredible opportunity here in America to dismantle the patriarchy and create a more balanced and equitable future for all, women and minorities in particular. And, we do not have to subscribe to the toxic norms of the past that protect the powerful at the expense of everyone else. No more excuses that “boys will be boys.” Violence against anyone is not a natural human trait but one that is conditioned and fed by cultural norms rewarding, instead of punishing men’s toxic behavior.
It is long past time we look at how we have conditioned and rewarded toxic masculinity with our culture of silence and protectionism of those in power. So this week, please join me in hosting a screening of The Mask You Live In for the men in your lives. And after screening the film, use our conversation toolkit to engage in dialogue around how toxic gender norms aren’t just harming girls and women, but also boys and men. And then, commit to doing something about it both as individuals and as a community.
Now is the time to end toxic masculinity once and for all. What are we waiting for?!
Jennifer Siebel Newsom & The Representation Project Team