sexual assault & how we use our power
a few weeks ago a friend posted a story about while walking down the street he was approached by a young woman asking for money. Not having any cash on him he apologized and went on his way. Later that night, he saw her again asking for money outside the grocery store and he offered to buy her some food. After picking out some things, she asked him “what do you want for this?” Just by the way she said it, my friend knew what she was asking. She had been under this power dynamic before. She knew what the ask would be: her body for a meal. As he paid he said “I don’t want anything from you. Im just want to give you this food."
i think this story has been renting out space in my head because of the conversation and movement happening in our culture right now around sexual assault. As a man, Im grateful for what I've learned from listening to the experiences of the far too many women who have bravely said “me too” (my partner being one of them. check out her story here) and for the challenge of reflecting on my own presets and dispositions towards not only sex, but my entire relationship with my girlfriend and women in general. As Ive done that Ive come to agree with what many have been saying: one of the issues at the very heart of this conversation and movement is how we understand and use our power.
thats an important piece of this conversation because it reminds us we all have power. We all, in our words, action, presence, votes, how we spend our money, and not to mention, in our skin colour, sexuality, gender, job, and how many degrees we have, have power. We all have the ability to shape and influence the people and world around us. The question isn’t ‘do we have power?’ it’s ‘what do we do with our power?’
when it comes to that power we have, we can use it for the sake of ourselves, using it to fulfil our own needs, wants, and desires by exerting our will onto others and the world, or we can use it freely and generously for the sake of others by using it to build up, protect, humanize, and lift up others and the world.
as we continue these conversations and push the movement forward, we need to remember this wisdom and let it remind us that we don’t have to have a world where rape and sexual assault is the norm. It doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to live like this. We have the power to change our world and change it for the better.
So the next time we have the chance, let’s follow the lead of my friend and use our power for the sake of others. The next time we see power being used to dehumanize, belittle, hurt, and destroy, let’s do something to stop it. The next time we hear a woman saying 'me too' let us listen and be challenged to look at our presets and dispositions and work on changing ourselves.
A new kind of world is possible. How will you use your power to help us get there?