#PeacefulMondays: Our power with each other

A few #PeacefulMondays ago, I shared the realities of using my voice in a label-happy world – as a woman, minority and immigrant – knowing how far our species has yet to go in transcending the struggles those labels represent.

So when news of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual exploits unfolded this week, I thought to myself, “Okay, here goes the next chapter. Will it end like so many others before it, with the thud of victim blaming and the whimper of complicity?”

Perhaps this was the celebrity straw that finally broke the complicit camel’s back, because the industry’s response was surprisingly swift. Yesterday afternoon, Mr Weinstein was ousted from Hollywood’s de facto governing body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And for most of today, actress Alyssa Milano led tens of thousands of women to flood Twiiter with the #MeToo hashtag, all sharing their stories of sexual assault or harassment to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

It’s an uncomfortable subject to be sure, and one that seems to keep rearing its ugly head just when we think we’ve overcome it. As a Biology major, I understand our animal impulses that trigger such behavior, not as an excuse for it, but as a reason why this streak can never fully disappear from humanity’s bloodstream.

To me, like so many gender-based struggles in human civilization, it boils down to a question of power. In this case, it’s exercising power over another, against their will so that it weakens their will. It’s power over someone’s personal sovereignty, their worth, their agency.

But #MeToo, and other countervailing acts like it, represent a power with.

Power with a common cause. (I stand with you.)

Power with a common story of tragedy to triumph. (With #MeToo, something akin to “I was assaulted but I’m still here.”)

Power with each other. (And like a dynamo, tapping into communal power can become self-generating for the long haul.)

This week, where can you choose to exercise power with, instead of power over?

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About the author

Maya Mathias

Maya Mathias is a global leadership veteran, with a life and career spanning 3 continents and 5 inspired self-reinventions. She is a peaceful leadership advocate and mentor, bringing her unique blend of East & West to her leadership development and innovation management practice. Maya’s life began with a lower-middle class upbringing in Asia, surrounded by poultry & vegetable farms and the ‘simple life’. She doesn’t forget her humble roots, and her body of work seeks to bring more equality, justice and personal purpose in troubling times. Learn more about Maya here.

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