The past two months in the U.S. have been heartbreaking and horrific.
Tragedy struck several different areas of our country, and while physical, catastrophic terrors stormed through this nation, emotional and psychological horrors also created wounds.
In September, Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner passed away. In October, Harvey Weinstein’s scandal was unveiled, followed by a trending social media campaign of #MeToo.
Although the death of Hefner and the accusations placed against Weinstein appear to be two separate incidents, I believe they are intertwined.
At the passing of Hefner, I saw several posts on social media by individuals across the country praising him and honoring him for his “work” and “legacy.”
Hefner is the father of a diseased sexual revolution, one in which eating disorders, addictions, divorce and sexually transmitted diseases run wild. Hefner is a man who got rich on the exploitation of women, consumerism and pornography. Perhaps this is his legacy, but it is certainly not an honorable one.
In an age of rape culture, sexual exploitation and the degrading of women, Hefner can be credited as one of the creators. To Hefner, I would perhaps be no more than a body or a face, essentially an object with no thoughts and no opinions, with a purpose to simply serve male desires.
And then there is Weinstein.
American film producer and former film studio executive, Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing, raping or assaulting over 50 different women in the film industry.
Hefner made a living exploiting women. Weinstein also made a living exploiting women. The only difference between these two men is one man was public while the other was private. One man’s work was “consensual” while the other man’s work was horrific.
The two are connected, like it or not.
After brave women began coming forward to share their personal encounters with Weinstein, #MeToo began trending on social media. The movement was kick-started by activist Tarana Burke more than 10 years ago, but caught fire when actress Alyssa Milano began tweeting callouts to victims.
In less than 24 hours after the first #MeToo tweet, 4.7 million people around the world engaged in the conversation, with more than 12 million posts. According to Facebook, more than 45 percent of individuals in the U.S. are acquainted with someone who posted #MeToo.
What do we do in a society in which the majority of us have seen, know or have heard of sexual misconduct?
One solution is better sex education, or an education which teaches individuals how to have healthy relationships and how to intervene when they witness an abusive situation.
Yet, this message cannot be limited to just an educational setting. Both young boys and girls need to be taught by their families and friends they are not just objects. Girls are not toys or pieces of meat. Boys are not toys or pieces of meat.
In this culture we live in, it is a struggle every day to hear stories of abuse and misconduct, but unfortunately, with each year it becomes less and less surprising.
Let us respect each other. Let us teach our friends and the children around us how to love and respect one another. Let us cure the diseased culture spreading around us.