Listening through the noise

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This has been a very hard week for someone who identifies as a feminist.

This has been a very hard week for someone who identifies as a feminist and is the mother of three sons and a daughter.

This has been a very hard week for someone who identifies as a feminist and is the mother of three sons and a daughter and was raised in a conservative, Christian, right-leaning home.

I do not identify as a “burn your bras, men are evil” feminist.

I identify as a “equal pay for equal work, treat everyone the same” feminist.

If the male is more qualified and performs better in the role, then, by all means, pay him more. If the female is more qualified and performs better, she should be paid appropriately. Removing the differences. Equality. That is all that it is about.

At the root of every situation is people. Whenever large stories break in the news, while people are debating, and different sides of the aisle are accusing each other, my heart is drawn to the people.

At the core of the issue, there are always people, and almost always, there is hurt. My mind always wants to know what we can do to cure the hurt, and what lesson can be carried forward to ensure that others do not feel the same hurt.

I have watched the posts shared on social media this week, from both sides of the big national issue. I have read the comments that have been made, proclaiming victims rights, proclaiming the rights of the accused, proclaiming both are truthful, both are liars. Social media and our conversations outside of it are so loud this week.

Everyone seems to have an opinion and as has become the nature of our country lately, few are willing to take the time to allow for open discussion over this or any other topic. We become so entrenched in our own beliefs, we cannot fathom how anyone other than an idiot would disagree with us.

My heart is breaking for all of the relationships that are being damaged in the comments section.

According to a February NPR article, the issue of sexual harassment, assault and unwanted advances such as touching is more prevalent than most Americans would like to acknowledge.

The article states, “The results, released in a report Wednesday (2/21/18), show that 77 percent of women had experienced verbal sexual harassment, and 51 percent had been sexually touched without their permission. About 41 percent said they had been sexually harassed online, and 27 percent said they had survived sexual assault.”

Documented numbers like that make me stop and think.

I wouldn’t say something at a party or in a public gathering if I felt that 77 percent of my female friends would be hurt by it (or male for that matter). I wouldn’t say it if I felt like 7 percent of my friends would be affected.

What is it about the keyboard that makes us so brave, that removes all empathy and compassion?

I have been careful this week, as with several other topics to not be too vocal. Choosing instead to read. To listen. To pay attention to what those around me have to say.

The pain is real. For the victims, whether recent, or decades old, the pain is real. Pain can cause us to say things in ways that come out harsh, to come out uncaring. As a society, we need to be able to break through to the tone of voice and find the pain at the root. We need to offer solace and comfort for the pain. We need to learn from it.

The fear is real. For those who feel that recent events are some form of persecution. Fear can cause people to lash out, to say things they may not mean, in a way that it is not intended. Again, as a society, we need to be able to have that hard conversation about what is causing the fear, and how to get to the root of it. We need to learn from it.

I believe listening is a step towards the answers.

Like any other time in the history of humanity, change does not come easy. There are bound to be some scary times, some painful times.

The time has come to address the issues though. Victims need a safe place to express themselves, to process their experiences.

Dialogues need to change. “What was she wearing?” MUST be removed from the conversation. “Boys will be boys” should NEVER be uttered as an excuse for bad behavior.

There are no easy answers, and the country as a whole knows that. However, the only direction we can go is forward, as backward is not an option.

I will continue to watch, to listen, to learn, and hopefully, we can all move forward together.

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