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Insightful Voices on What's Next After #METOO Cultural Explosion

December 31, 2017

The New York Times recently gathered seven wise women for an insightful, roundtable discussion of the challenges and complexity of moving forward in the wake of the Silence Breakers and #METOO explosions of 2017.  One year of outing predators is just the beginning. How do we turn this moment of cultural reckoning into a positive turn on our evolutinary wheel?  Lots of thoughtful insight in this fascinating discussion about Work, Fairness, Sex and Ambition. 

Vital Voices Helps Women Move the World

December 30, 2017

Vital Voices is one of the most effective global organizations I've discovered that is helping to move the world forward through women's activism, advocacy and leadership. Since its founding 20 years, ago, Vital Voices has conducted more than 400 programs, serving more than 15,000 women in 181 countries.

They've also delivered 600 emergency assistance grants to survivors of extreme forms of gender-based violence and invested $11 million in direct assistance to its network leaders on every continent.  

If you're interested in learning more about this outstanding, change-agent, global organizationshere's more. 

What's Your Purposeful Word for 2018?

December 29, 2017

Rather than the traditional New Year's Resolutions (which most of us forget by February!), I have started choosing ONE WORD to set my direction and help keep my focus for the coming new year.  For 2018, my word is PRESENCE.  If you'd like to try this approach, here's a great tool I used to choose my focus WORD for 2018.  

Best Women's Writing on 2017 Issues

December 27, 2017

Huffington Post has compiled a fabulous collection of the most compelling commentaries written by women writers in 2017. For the next few weeks, I'm going to regularly share these outstanding voices with you. Many of the pieces are related to one of the biggest stories of the year: the #METOO explosion.   Here's "Y'All Don't Deserve Black Women," by Ashley Nkadi and first published in THE ROOT. 

What's Next After #METOO?

December 27, 2017

As one disturbing #MeToo story after another plays out before our national consciousness, I’ve started wondering what the best of our men are thinking. Our brothers, husbands, sons and trusted friends. Perhaps the reason so few males realize how frequently females experience or escape from unwanted sexual attention, harassment or assault is because we don’t tell them. Here are my thoughts on how we can move past "outing predators" and venting and forward to healthier gender dyanamics.  

What's Next After #MeToo?

December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers:

As one disturbing #MeToo story after another plays out before our national consciousness, I’ve started wondering what the best of our men are thinking. Our brothers, husbands, sons and trusted friends. Fathers, too, if you are lucky enough to still have yours.

None of the stories – not even the obscenest, nor the abundance of them – has surprised me. What has given me pause, though, is the reaction of so many well-intentioned, wonderful men who have said, “I had no idea how pervasive this is!" 

Women are all too aware of the menacing, gender iceberg that is always lurking just beneath the surface of our daily lives. Nearly all of us have been scraped by its sharp edges. Most have been at least cut or even sliced deeply. The unluckiest haven’t lived to share their stories.

In millions of deeply ingrained ways, every culture teaches females and males different stories about who we are, our place in the world and how to navigate it safely. Little boys are encouraged to learn to protect themselves from likely aggression from other males. Because most females don’t have the physical strength to out-muscle nearly any male we will encounter, girls are taught from an early age to stay out of harm’s way.

The most likely harm we must always be on guard against is from unwanted male attention. Attention that always has the potential to turn sexual. And, if we don’t cooperate, dangerous.

I've been puzzled that not one of the  most beloved men in my life has thought (or dared?) to ask, “Anne, have you ever experienced sexual harassment, or worse?” The only person who did was a radio host who was stunned by my on-air answer

Men Don't Ask. Perhaps the reason so few males realize how frequently females experience or escape from unwanted sexual attention, harassment or assault is because we don’t tell them. So, I decided to write a letter to the closest men in my life. By the time I finished, it was five, typed pages, but too painful to share.  

As I opened my memory file-drawer, scenes I’d forgotten came flooding back. They are never really forgotten, of course. Each one leaves its mark, impacting how we move through the world. And, hopefully, how we are listening now to the deluge of wounded women who are finally sharing their stories and confronting their predators.   

My earliest memory is from age 11 when a teenage boy, a stranger, tried to drag me into a neighbor’s dark garage. I knew I was in danger and ran. I never saw that boy again, but I met many of his cohorts over the years. Some were merely hanging out of cars yelling vulgarities at me, or grabbing at their crotches and hissing something obscene in my ear as we passed on the street.

Others caught me in the dark, at a moment when I made the mistake of simply being alone -- or trusting someone I thought was a friend.

And then there’s the mocking disrespect, the disdain, the sexual innuendo that all violate a woman's sense of personal safety. As a lone, female sports reporter interviewing athletes in locker rooms, I regularly absorbed gender hostility. That was considered the price of entry for women of my generation who dared to tackle all-male work environments, imposing ourselves where we were not wanted. In every decade of my life, I have been routinely reminded -- even by men who claimed to love me --  that physically over-powering me was always an option. 

But here's the saddest part of all this: there's nothing special or unusual about my experiences. Nearly every woman I know, who has lived long enough, can match me story for story. 

Dysfunctional, gender dynamics have wreaked havoc from Congressional hallways and network newsrooms to Hollywood casting couches and auto industry plant floors. Blue collar women at Ford Motor Company have endured decades of apalling harassment. And yet, it goes on and on. 

Time magazine got it right. The courageous Silence Breakers of 2017, who begn this national cleansing with the January Women's March on Washington, DC., brought this simmering outrage to a full boil with a steady drumbeat of stunning revelations about powerful men. Roger Ailes. Bill O'Reilly. Harvey Weinstein. Charlie Rose. Louis C.K. Matt Lauer. Roy Moore. John Conyers. Al Franken. Our Comander-in-Chief.

What's Next? Now that the lid has finally blown off our Pandora's box of decades (no, centuries) of gender injustice, the only thing that really matters is, What happens next? Will this moment of national reckoning lead to a forward turn on our evolutionary wheel, or will it be a mere passing blip on our cultural radar? Here are my top three forward steps:     

1) Millennials Will Lead. It is young women – millennials who thought the gender wars were behind us and are stunned at what older women have been tolerating – who are leading on this issue. 

Katie Couric tolerated Matt Lauer "pinching her on the butt" for years. Taylor Swift outed and sued the DJ who tried the same with her. Meryl Streep once called Harvey Weinstein “God” on Oscar night and claimed she didn’t know about his abuse of young actresses. Rose McGowan defied the Weinstein empire and publicly accused him of rape. The U.S. Congress established its own taxpayer-funded slush fund to handle these situations – and paid out $17 million over the last 20 years to cover them up. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other women members of Congress led the demand for “zero tolerance” that toppled Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers.

2) Male Confusion is Unacceptable. This is not about flirting or extra-marital affairs.  The #METOO movement is about the pervasive male trespassing on women's bodies and psychological safety. Vice President Pence's solution of never having lunch or dinner with a woman without his wife is insulting to men who can control their sexual appetites.

3) Start With Our Kids. We must innoculate our girls to be prepared for the gender harassment virus they will inevitably face. They shouldn't be too shocked to protect themselves when it happens. And it's time to turn our attention to the gender norms our culture imposes on boys. We've spent decades teaching girls to be strong women. It's time to teach our boys the power of being sweet men.   

True leaders step up and lead at the right moment, which is nearly always long before it’s easy. We are at a moment in time when women’s evolutionary march toward equality is drawing us close to a critical mass of influence. We are finding the courage to raise our voices -- collectively. The non-apology apologies rain on deaf ears.  There is no turning back.

To my Sisters everywhere I plead, "Keep raising your voices." Begin by telling your stories to other women. Then share them with men who love you. Don’t wait for them to ask. Most don't know how. Or, perhaps they are afraid of what our answers will be. 

To my Brothers everywhere I ask, "Are you listening?"

The truth will set us free.  Have a peaceful holiday! Anne 

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