Us too, We have by Michelle Katz
I feel sad in this #metoo/#ihave movement.
I understand and can also feel into the great impact of this movement for women and other minority genders finally having a voice in the face of perpetrators in our lives throughout the many years we have faced so much of this on a regular basis. And I can also hope and believe that the men that are apologizing, admitting and speaking up with #ihave are providing some healing or retribution for these experiences.
What saddens me is not the movement’s intent. What is causing so much hurt in my heart around this is the movement’s process and some of its potential outcomes to create more rupture and more pain.
It is important, and can even be beautiful, to bring such shadows into the light. To make what is unconscious, conscious for some healing or deep understanding. However, I feel uncertain about if that is what is happening.
Here is how I am seeing this: women are finally sharing stories of being victim to incredibly hurtful misogynist acts with men as the persecutor, and men seem to be feeling obliged now to speak to it with admittance/apology.
As for the depth and feeling about how these men are experiencing the repercussions of these actions, that I leave to each individual man to know in himself. And I leave it to the women (and other gender identities) who hear the admittance/apologize to accept them in a way that feels good and true to them, in hope that it does indeed, leave them some resolve.
But for me, what it all brings up, is two primary questions: 1) Where is the empathy, the process, the movement toward greater healing? 2) What are the impacts of this in the larger culture?
I wonder if the hurt being expressed is creating more hurt/fear? Are we forgetting that age old knowing that most perpetraters are victims first? Are we blindly continuing to follow this pattern? Where is the empathy? “I’m itching to live in a world of empathy, where none of these reactions is wrong—and where we can engage with each other openly about the venomous stuff inside us that has resulted from having been trained, all of us, to behave in our different but interlocking fucked-up ways.” (Joanna Bock)
I cannot help but wonder about the process of this all. It seems to me something essential is missing or being forgotten. The empathy. It seems like the Anima, the essence of the feminine (and when I say feminine, I do not mean female, but rather the symbolic/inner feminine that lives in all of us, a soulful and relational part of Self), that, underneath is all, is really what is being called on to emerge, is also being forgotten or lost, because this does not feel like a truly feminine way, it feels like an imitation of the culture we have so long lived in and felt dominated by.
In this process, are we not harming as we have been harmed? Are we not using the same tactics of victimization? Have we forgotten that there is a way to do it differently? A way that speaks deeply of the feminine. A way that says, “I see you (people of all genders, race, gifts) and I see your wisdom and your suffering. I see what you offer and what you know, and I deeply understand and accept it, and wish to find a way for us to meet in a good way so that we can honor all parts of ourselves, including our weaknesses and strengths. For ultimately, your weakness and mine, your strength and mine, create the beauty and connectedness of our world.”
Yes, I agree that it is time for a change, for the feminine to come and shift our culture in ways that need shifting. But are we doing it in a way the speaks truly to the shift or are we just doing it in the same old way? Which opens up a number of additional questions for me: are we seeking revenge? Justice? Understanding? Or true cultural shift?
Is the #metoo movement meant to create guilt and shame? What if we are creating a society in which men become so afraid to talk to women, out of fear they may say something “wrong”, and women, in a desire to protect themselves, stay away from men? Does one have to be or feel lesser than another? Are we seeking to lecture or are we seeking to learn through authentic and empathic communication? Where is the deeper connection? Even the "I" and "Me of this movement speaks volumes to where we are at in this process, I beg for the "Us" and "We", because we all do it, we all are persecutors, we all are victims and we all are healers.
Riane Eisler speaks of a partnership-domination continuum, in her book the Chalice and the Blade. She asks us to look at relational dynamics in a systems way, rather than a dominator way. The dominator way is by ranking, in which differences lead to superiority or inferiority; it's authoritarian in nature and often involves a high degree of abuse and violence. The Partnership model suggests that we see how different components of a living system interact to maintain one another and the larger world of which they are part of. This model is what we see in nature, thus, this way calls us to remember our human nature. As every element of nature plays an important and vital role in contributing to the greater whole of nature, so is true for humanity. Seemingly dissimilar elements are deeply and intricately related and working together to make it possible for the living system to not only live, but thrive! What if power could be empowering for everyone rather than disempowering? Eisler called this partnership model, “gylany”, coining the word for a society in which relationship between the sexes are seen for all they bring, are more peaceful, and are focused on life-giving and nurturing.
So often, I have found myself apologizing for my existence, much of it may be my Jewish lineage and the historical trauma of Jewish persecution I hold in me, and much of it may be the fact that I am a woman (noting the many times I hear women apologize needlessly). Regardless, I know what it is to constantly apologize for being who I am, and I would not wish this upon anyone, not Nazi’s, not men. The apologies will only go so far, for me, it is the sitting in circle, learning from each other with all of our hearts involved, and seeing how we all contribute and fit together that will help me most. We all are worthy of this life. We all hold human faults. And, I believe, in order to create true cultural shift, we must come to celebrate each other’s existence.
My hope/wish/call is that the #metoo movement not use the same format we have learned but come to find another way to bring in the balance that is being called forward for human relational sustainability. We are in a cultural and societal rite-of-passage now, may we sever from what we know, learning from the past and moving into a new, different, intentional way toward a more worthwhile future.
Let’s step in to this major cultural passage together! Oaks Counsel offers many offerings for rites-of-passage for individuals and groups for a greater understanding of our human nature, remembering that we are part of something bigger that we are being called to remember.