#metoo & #howiwillchange

I know my experience isn’t as traumatic as many people’s experiences so I have hesitated to share this. However, I want to show support and point out that our system is broken.

So, out of concern and in an attempt to combat the problem in some small way, I add my voice: #metoo

Me too. I have been on the receiving end. I have been affected. As a teenager, a guy sexually groped me and a woman reached into my pants and fondled me. Both of those encounters were unwanted and unexpected.

I only share my experience to further communicate how pervasive the problem is. I also seek to be honest and admit that I have not just been affected by the problem, I have been part of the problem. As a teenager, I got into pornography and at various times failed to treat women with the utmost respect that they deserve. 

So, I too have propagated the plague. For me, it started with porn: in the form of Victoria’s Secret magazines. But porn seeks expression. It doesn’t want to just see, it wants to feel. And it won’t stop there if unchecked.

Our current cultural situation, I fear, is the fruit of a larger and deeper problem. I would like to see it destroyed at its root… If not, the plague of sexual harassment will continue for society.

#metoo will continue unless we as a society see the problem with making humans mere sexual objects. Of course, the person who harasses someone else is never excused. No one can say, “Porn made me do it” or “She was asking for it.”

No. We are all morally accountable individuals. It’s not the victim who is responsible for what happened to them. My point, however, is that porn culture creates a culture of sexual harassment.

We cannot have our cake and eat it too. We can’t salivate as a culture over scandalous sexual liaisons, sell sex, and celebrate no sexual norms and also guard against people getting mistreated sexually. It’s a contradiction.

I mean we can and should try. But sadly, I fear it won’t be effective.

If we are to have a society free of sexual harassment, men can’t privately fantasize about accomplishing Hugh Hefner’s sexual exploits. If we want to be a society free of #metoo stories, we can’t as a society normalize and support those desires and think things will change. On the other hand, I don’t think we can parade the sexual appeal of the playboy bunnies around and epitomize them as the ideal for the female population and then hope for cultural change.

We are feeding the thing that bites us. And we need to change.

I am glad many people are speaking out and saying, “#metoo” and I personally know that there are many who have not spoken out. I am glad this problem is getting attention but I’m afraid it won’t be enough to reduce the number of people in the future who become victims. Social media sends very mixed messages. And, as many “likes,” “hearts,” and “sad faces” that #metoo is getting it’s not going to compete with the flashy fleshy allure of wealth and sex.

We can’t say: “SEX! SEX! SEX! Everything is about sex and there are no rules whatsoever.” And then say, “Actually, there are rules.”

We can’t say life is all about pleasure, money, and material things AND SAY treat people nicely and don’t hurt them. Don’t treat them like things.

Those values are at odds with each other.

There are rules. People should never be treated as sexual objects. They are not. They are infinitely more than that.

So, #howiwillchange? I will continue to speak out against sexual harassment, abuse, and treating human beings like mere things. And I will speak out against pornography. 

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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