In a world where women carry secrets of abuse and harassment, the recently published stories of sexual harassment from behemoths like Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, and Gwyneth Paltrow shed light on the pervasive underpinnings of violence and sexual abuse toward women today.
If even women like these are victims of predation, and are fearful of reporting their experiences, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Perhaps some. These brave women are lifting the veil. The Rose Army is rising to action, swelling as women (re)live the pain, sorrow, and rage of ages. Of our mothers before us and daughters to come. And our own pain, sorrow, and rage.
Pain, Sorrow, and Rage
The stories of women coming forward about the predation of Harvey Weinstein, James Toback and others of their kin are heart-wrenching. They stir up our own experiences and emotions:
The pain of loss and hardship, the loss of our childhood, the realization of how the world truly views and values women. The realization of the limitations set upon us by a world construed by men.
The sorrow of not speaking up, internalizing our experiences, and being criticized for our responses and the time it took for us to come forward. The sorrow of the stories of sisters who’ve confided in us. Sorrow about the imbalance of power that seems too big to even contemplate.
The rage toward our predators, but also toward the men who condoned bad behavior by not acting, and the women who sided against us or remained silent (to make their lives easier). The rage toward ourselves, for the times we stood by in disbelief or fear.
However, women also carry stories of joy, courage, resilience, and love. We carry power. Every woman has a story. Don’t trust us. Ask the women around you. Listen to them. The power lies in listening and practicing empathy for the road that other people walk.
The Rose Army Rises
A rose is a symbol of balance, wisdom, love, hope, new beginnings. But not without the thorns of loss and illusion. In Alchemy, the rose has seven petals and symbolizes universal understanding and order. In Freemasonry, roses are linked to the guiding principles of life, love, and light.
It is no coincidence that the articulate and awakened Rose McGowan is leading the charge against Hollywood’s mistreatment of women and the ensuing cover-ups by those who knew but did nothing. She is flanked by the courageous Patricia Arquette and Ashley Judd. Supported by the fiery and righteous Lena Dunham and Amber Rose Tamblyn. They are all heroes, paving the way for a new future. A new universal understanding.
Many men have been silent. Some attribute their meek repudiation of Weinstein, et al, to their daughters. Somehow having a daughter now gives them a different perspective to contemplate when they lay awake at night wondering about the safety and future of their children. Some men have tweeted their support, but I wonder what their response would be in the moment? For the record, we don’t hate men, but their silence is deafening.
Join the Rose Army
Most of the women you know have been harassed. According to the CDC, nearly one in five women have been raped. And that’s attempted or completed rape, not harassment. I’d guess that all women have been harassed either verbally or physically at some point in their lives. (And yes, this violence is also directed at men, children, transgender individuals, and beyond.)
In my three to four decades on this planet, I have filed two police reports of physical harassment. I have been the focus of one corporate case of predation and a witness to another. I sadly watched the trembling unfolding of a bright, educated woman during one case, which almost derailed her career and invited lots of public criticism.
My partner has stymied many more incidents that were outright inappropriate, at innocuous locations such as a bathroom line or an Italian restaurant with white tablecloths (that one ended in a physical altercation).
We all need to work on eradicating the thorn that has now become the splinter in our collective evolution.
Statistics and experience tell us that most women have had similar experiences. We all need to be part of the Rose Army. I don’t care if men derive their empathy from relationships with moms, daughters, or sisters, just show the fuck up.
Grow the Fuck Up
We live in a world where women download apps to ensure their safety on the way home, where we cringe at the doorbell when we are home alone, where we teach our daughters how to walk to their car with their keys poking out from between their clasped fists. Rather than chastise the men for their inaction, here are some answers to the questions that seem so obvious to women because women live in the perpetual fear of abuse and violence.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein
Men, we’d like to contribute to your ascension, your evolvement toward enlightened masculinity. We’re ready for you to grow the fuck up and join the fight. Here are a few thoughts on your common masculine reactions:
Why Didn’t She Report It (Sooner)?
Reporting abuse, harassment, and rape is terribly traumatic. Victims psychologically disassociate, break away, break apart, rather than break down (that comes later). Moreover, when women do report, there are no consequences and men walk away, gloating. If there are consequences, they are often minimal.
Society at large stigmatizes the women who come forward. They wear crowns of thorns for sharing their experiences. Let us show them gratitude. As a consequence of speaking up, these women fight for their reputations. The public memory of their experience troubles them in future relationships and jobs. They need our support, not doubt and criticism.
She Shouldn’t Dress Like That If She Doesn’t Want Attention
People don’t rape or harass clothes, people rape or harass people. Period.
Why Didn’t She Fight Back?
Fight or flight is a funny thing. You may have this idea that if something disturbing or aggressive happened to you, that you will fight, kick, and scream. But in the moment, you don’t know what your reaction will be. You may freeze and standstill in disbelief. This reaction is more common than fighting, especially for generations of women who were taught to be polite and say “no, thank you.”
What Did She Think Would Happen?
Aside from wanting to see the best in people, predators often use a “honey potting” technique to make women feel safe and comfortable. For example, a predator may have a female secretary set up his appointments or talk about his wife and kids with his prey. Women let their defensive guard down, thinking, “he can’t be that bad if he really loves his wife and kids.” Then, boom, a big dude is naked, standing between you and a locked door.
Often the final scene is very different than the first scene. Predators calculate and premeditate.
Very intelligent women find themselves in these situations. They blame themselves endlessly for “being so stupid.” But the predators are the problem. They wish their intuition had been louder or that they had listened to it.
From Thorns to Full Bloom
It is up to us, the collective, to change this. It requires the solidarity of men and women in a movement of universal understanding. Just like the alchemical rose, we can turn all this pain, sorrow, and rage into gold. The Rose Army can strip the thorns from the rose of womanhood, cultivating strength and freedom. Let’s fucking blossom.
Each of the Wyrd founders has experienced harassment in some way. We know the bravery required to tell the truth. There is often no glory, prestige, and triumph in stepping out of line to speak the truth. There are stereotypes and public opinions to contend with. Sometimes for lifetimes.
We stand with the Rose Army. We believe the women who come forward to tell their stories.
At Wyrd, we fight for the silenced, unheard, downtrodden, and forgotten. Wyrd is a collective of the different, the other, of shamans, witches, mystics, alchemists, and magicians. We are familiar with the twilight between light and dark in our own pursuit of truth and virtue. That is where magic and the power of transformation live.
Image courtesy of The Rose Army. Be a thorn and enlist.