GET REAL: #Lifeinleggings a needed mirror
THE #Lifeinleggings movement is on the move.
It started with a trickle of women sharing their stories of abuse. Then the flood gates opened. The depth of the problem was a shock for many people. They had no idea how common rape, incest, sexual harassment, and other varieties of attacks on women were.
Sometimes it is hard to see yourself unless someone hands you a mirror. This is us.
#Lifeinleggings gives society a mirror with a long handle so you can see those hard to reach places; the places you scrub without really inspecting. These are places we’ve been taught are dirty and not good to touch, yet we can’t keep our hands away.
Sexuality is still a somewhat taboo, uncomfortable and suppressed subject. Like many things when suppressed, sexuality snaps back violently. I feel safe arguing that, generally, females get the worst of the backlash.
The movement is by and primarily for women. This does not mean that men are not affected. It can be as difficult for a man to look himself in the testicles as it is for a woman to look herself in the vagina.
It’s easier when the prized-stones are a source of pride, a symbol of virility and of power. But it may take an act of hard and wilful honesty to acknowledge that that which makes you a man also makes you guilty.
Many men will automatically become defensive at this statement. They argue that they themselves have never done anything wrong. My brudduh, you probably have. That’s the difficult thing with these kinds of movements. What they are moving against is so often not seen as wrong, or seen as not so bad.
#Lifeinleggings is moving against normal. It is fighting the culture. Simply by being an accepting member of the culture you most likely have internalised the common attitudes of the culture and acted them out without a thought; whether male or female.
#Lifeinleggings tries to make you stop and think.
Even if a man may be innocent of the more disturbing crimes highlighted by #Lifeinleggings he may very likely be implicated in some of the minor offences or at least be an accessory. I know I am.
This moment of #Lifeinleggings is not the first time I’ve reflected on my attitudes towards women. But it makes it more difficult to avoid the exercise. It makes it more difficult to put it behind me and just move on. And so be it if you are willing to grow. It must even be harder for the women involved.
Some of the women who shared their stories have dealt with years of secret shame and guilt. Their shame and guilt often has to do with incidents the men involved may have shared with pride and swinging testicles.
Men have long established their sense of manhood at the expense of the women and girls around them. Faced with #Lifeinleggings a man may be forced to confront the questionable foundations of his manhood and rethink and reinterpret his past liaisons.
A resistance by men to embrace the movement may be a stance against self-incrimination. It may also be a fear of losing power. You may be addicted to the culture that encourages women to be silent prey and men to be predatory.
If men don’t get it, that is a shame but it’s all right. The movement would have gone a long way even if it only affects women, allowing them the release of lingering shame, guilt and resentment and empowering them to refuse to accept any further unacceptable normal.
It doesn’t appear that the movement is settling for being an opportunity for venting. It seems to be serious about resetting the cultural norm, setting more consciences free and needling others.
I don’t perceive the movement to be about man-bashing or a denial of the problems that men face. I believe the founders appreciate the complexity of the issues and the fact that in many cases women are offenders and complicit as well. This is no guarantee that emotions will not overflow and things may not become choppy and turbulent. In addition to shame and guilt, there is anger. So be it. Who ever said growth would be smooth and easy?
Adrian Green is a creative communications specialist. Email [email protected]