For the last year I have been working to build up my author platform and finding a brand that works for me and what I write. When I first started out all I knew was that I wanted to write to women about issues that they face every day. Why? Because for over ten years I have been working in the non profit sector for a women’s crisis center, food pantries and banks, and housing and homeless services. During that time I heard countless stories from women and children that still keep me up at night. I knew that their struggles and challenges needed to be told.
My favorite quote from Robin Williams best sums up my reasoning for speaking out about these issues.
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”
So my stories speak a truth and I wanted my platform to reflect that same truth, that women’s lives matter and that all women deserve to be heard. I have been posting graphics and memes on my author Facebook page for months. I go in spurts of posting light humorous ones about laundry, coffee and kid antics to posting about headier topics of domestic violence, sexual assault and food insecurity. After all, we need a little sugar with our medicine.
One day I found a graphic put out by the @Yesallwomen twitter account about sexual assault prevention. I thought the message was on point. They were starting a dialogue that I could get on board with. So I posted it and my Facebook page blew up over night. Over 600 people have shared the graphic and its message.
What was the message? The message encourages people to stop putting all the responsibility of rape prevention on the victim and to start educating everyone on consent and what that really means. It reminded me about something my professors and I talked about in my graduate program about micro and macro practice social change. The best analogy I can use to explain this concept is the starfish story:
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
*Adapted from Loren Eiseley’s The Star Thrower.
So many rape crisis services and some prevention strategies look at it the problem from the beach perspective. They work to help the victim after the fact or put all the pressure on the victim to stay safe. Education strategies look at things from the perspective of the other side of the beach to where the problem lies. They beg the question of why are there so many starfish on the beach? And what can we do to PREVENT it from happening in the first place?
This is a hot button topic and people can get angry, very angry, when it is brought up. But if we remain silent out of fear or peer pressure then the beaches will continue to pile up with dead starfish.
This week I regained some faith in humanity. After seeing countless DANK memes go viral, I was moved to see that messages about women’s safety can also go viral too. Curious about what the graphic is? Head on over to my Facebook page and join in on the dialogue.