Reflections on the Harvey Weinstein/Hollywood drama and its fallout
Times like these, for long term feminists like myself, beg action and reflection. Neither, alone, accomplishes the task of what is needed for the endless journey home to the center of oneself -- and how one might, correspondingly, contribute to the world around oneself.
One of the essential values I inherited from my Jewish foundations underscores the dual demands of times like these; tikkun atzmi – repair of the self, tikkun olam – world repair.
Never are these two to be separated.
Because I am made of this, I seek to, somehow, contribute something meaningful to help heal the daily outpourings of distress while, simultaneously, I explore the damaging experiences I have had with men, in my personal life. As a result, these days, I find myself ceaselessly searching my heart and mind to heal within, yet, seeking to find my particular lane to contribute what I can that I might, in time, provide to help foster progress out of this angst.
In this distress, at what I see around me, and inside myself, soulful contemplation comforts me, as I attempt to find order in all the chaos.
Searching for answers, I ask myself --
What does this near ceaseless confronting of men in power and their abuse thereof, these days, for their history of sexual abuse and harassment, mean for my life? What is mine to do, here, to help this outpouring that I have, like an Olympic contender, practiced, my whole life, to manage, personally and professionally?
What does this attack on the individual abusers and a system that has sustained them, even promoted and enabled them, mean for me today? And tomorrow? How can I help this male power-abuse and societal dysfunction that could be righted?
I know it can be corrected! On a small scale I have seen situations like this be reconciled, again and again, if not perfectly, at least with significant progress, even in my own life; a tale or two I will get to in time.
We are awash in one HUGE co-dependency game, on as grand a scale as one can imagine!
There are solutions -- and millions of people, like myself, who have either the skills or the personal experience, or both, to help make repairs.
But this is not a solo endeavor. It is a totally collective endeavor. A dysfunctional system, of many interlocking pieces, got us here. The same can get us out.
If we are willing to work at it.
We must ask ourselves, who are the ones ready, willing and able to take up the task of the fixing?
I, for one, along with many others, am in for the ride. But it will be a long one. And, we must ask that each and every one of us pay heed to what we have contributed to the problems we are now uprooting –- and get on board with whatever it is we need to do differently.
Finger pointing at others is not going to do it, wholly. And, trust me, if you don’t already know it, fierceness, alone, will not be enough!
For myself I realize that with all my wondering what to do, what to do, my fierce determination to “do” is not sufficient. I must take time, as must we all, to go inside myself – and – just simply “BE. Unhook from the urgency that drives me to act. Find the stillness inside. And, with that find my true way here.
So, in contemplation, I ponder, wondering –
If I am to adjust my world view, once again, for this new normal that includes a mindfulness, not only of the depravity of our president, but also of the many other bastions of female oppression that make up male-dominated organizations and businesses, what can I do with this that can contribute to the good of the whole; the altruistic way that sits in the center of me; all for one, one for all? I will seek and I will find, in good time when all is not so heavy as it is today.
In silence, it also comes to me to wonder, OMG, what about the supporting players; accomplices in the invasion of female dignity, safety and security? What to do about them?
I am back in the doing again, I see. So much is stirred it is hard to just let it be.
Here I consider that I must look and see, contemplate and consider, what to do? What to do?
So much is uprooted, how can we even begin to rebuild? Am I really ready to rebuild now, or is it still time to pause and reflect.
For example, how I am to even look upon the hidden oppression of women, rampant throughout society, troubles me, especially when even NPR is now pressed to reveal – and – take action upon, the cracks in what had seemed to be a well-balanced, female empowering organization?
Then what to do with that?
Truly nothing is as it seemed before!
But there are meaningful things to do with all of this that is rocking us now.
Our whole society, it seems, is in need of repair! Where do we start?
Obviously speaking truth to power is where it begins.
Then, what next? This is not enough!
I remember how upending it was for me when Richard Nixon was, finally, known to be fully culpable as the power behind the Watergate break-in. There again our country was in chaos.
It threw me down on the ground – and – most of those around me, in my age group, in terms of the world view we had been holding. What could it possibly mean that our president, JFK, a revered civic leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. and then Bobby Kennedy, had all been assassinated? And that our current president, Richard Nixon, had seriously lied to the American people?
How was one to make sense of this chaos in the world order we had known?
Were we to now discard the lessons of our growing up that had included yearly, big deal celebrations of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, our pillars of leadership and what our country had always stood for? Or so we believed.
The darkness that has now been revealed disturbs me, while at the same time it casts a reaffirming light on what was readily intuited, if one took the time to consider the underpinnings of much that glittered but was not truly gold. Tinsel town had never been anything but façade. But what about NPR?
Everyday more dirt is unearthed, as the top, heavy with male dominance structures, shows its corrosive edges. I am disturbed and the conversations around me, focusing on this upheaval, are without end.
Much has been stored away in the body, mind and spirit of so many women, toxic and festering as secrets are liable to be.
But it is not only the harm, injury and trauma of the women, who like myself, albeit not professionally, have been victimized by male sexual dominance and abuse, I am concerned about our country, the women – and— the men in it and how we are going to put ourselves aright again.
I cringe at some of the revelations I see and read about while I celebrate the upheaval.
It needed to be and was, in fact, long overdue.
I particularly applaud the cleverness of women like Ashley Judd. I believe they knew full well that while they could have no direct impact on Donald Trump, they could, instead topple Harvey Weinstein.
But where do we go from here to set things aright?
Speaking truth to power is not enough.
Using our collective women power to stand up, speak out, join the chorus and the newest women’s empowerment movement, #Metoo, is, also, not enough in my book.
The heartrending story of Aly Raisman and the other young women who were violated by that merchant of evil, Dr. Larry Nassar, hurts my very soul, every time I think of it.
Of all the stories that have come to light since the Harvey Weinstein/Hollywood scandal was unleashed, thanks to Ronan Farrow, the New Yorker and the NYT, young women, like Aly Raisman, Olympic Gold Medalist in gymnastics, being sexually assaulted by their physician, strikes me hardest; a mere child, an innocent. Though this issue had been exposed earlier, somehow, added to the others, it has taken on added impact.
How could this have been? Right under our very eyes? And, at a time when the athletic stars of these young women were burning most brightly.
And, yet “Fierce” as a title for Ms. Raisman’s new book, out this past week and discussed almost everywhere, hit a button of concern for me.
While I admire the strength and determination demanded of an Olympic contender. And, I feel great compassion for the “fierceness” it must have taken for Ms. Raisman – and – others to manage the sexual abuse by the hands Dr. Nassar, known as “the” top physician for athletes, when I sink my body, mind and spirit down into the significance of this “fierceness” on a day-to-day, long-term basis, I can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation.
Not only on behalf of Ms. Raisman, but also just the simple notion of fierceness, in general, as it relates to a show of courage and fortitude, such as is now being displayed by the women of Hollywood who have come forth; women who will now, not allow the aura of Tinsel Town or Olympic Gold, or ordinary life to diminish them.
As I know it, both as a psychotherapist, as well as a life-long researcher of the Dark Side, fierceness, in some ways, needs to be considered as a double edge sword.
On one hand, fierceness, derived from our innate survival response, allows us to do just what it is intended to do, survive. Its importance in providing the individual with life-saving strength in the face of mortal threat, body, mind or spirit, makes it one of humanity’s greatest resources.
However, fierceness, if examined closely and understood with its many facets of operation, can, if held too long, become the seat of doing oneself in. Its every day, next pathway of expression is anger, resentment, unhealed emotional wounds and fears; toxic stress chemicals that compromise the body as well as emotions.
The action required for these is oftentimes no action at all, other than that which comes of solitude, quiet reflection, contemplation. This is the work of tikkun atzmi, self-repair. This is not done in the light of the media, talk shows or grand conferences. This is the inner work
that must be pursued on one’s own.
Nancy Smith, licensed acupuncturist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and former registered nurse who has been my acupuncturist, now, for more than half-a-dozen years describes the phenomenon of being “stuck on” (i.e. engaged in non-stop action as well as inner stress), drawing on the teachings of one of her mentors, Peter A. Levine, author of Waking The Tiger, explains the phenomenon of “getting stuck on” as a kind of emotional overdrive, based on instinctual survival coping defenses that eventually outweigh their usefulness.
Eloquently, Nancy translates the inner balancing process needed, to offset our fierceness, with these words –
The storms of summer give way to the damp heaviness of late summer. Then the deep letting go of the autumn. So, as a person tracks the weather inside, she can sense the stuck places. And allow them to transform as they move through the body and into awareness.When the fury dies down and surely it will, both that prompted by external experiences and then correspondingly internally, we need to learn how to bring ourselves back into an inner steadiness, body, mind and spirit. Find out more about Nancy, my favorite acupuncturist who has aided my inner balancing with her hands on knowing here.
Fierceness then must seek a mellower channel. On its own, the hype of the internet reports, Facebook chats, conferences and marches of protest keep things hyped. This we must manage and not allow the excitement of our new women’s liberation to take its toll while we are after our full freedom.
For our best interest, we, thus, must come to realize that “fierceness is not enough.”
When we think of survival-driven behaviors, we can view them along a continuum from the extreme of a Loser Survivor to the opposite extreme of the Winner Survivor. The Loser Survivor is an addict, power, sex or otherwise. The Winner Survivor seeks and finds balance, without and within.
See the Paradigm For Winners and Losers