The topic is never far from my mind. I wonder if that is true for most (if not all) women. Perhaps my own awareness of the topic is intensified particularly because of my work and training as a therapist alongside my own history of past sexual abuse. But then again, the current statistics suggest that if we do not have a personal narrative of sexual violation, then we most certainly know some who do. So if the topic isn’t as much of a focus for others, dare I say that I think it should be.
I have been a fairly mild-mannered feminist for the past several years. Never wanting to be perceived as a raging-man-hating-f-word, I have tempered my passion. I’ve justified the tempering as the necessary means to foster a “safe” environment for discussion around difficult categories. I want to be heard and I realize that raging out loud doesn’t always lead to the conditions for the kind of dialogue I want to encourage. And there it is. Did you catch that? It’s one more example of how internalized patriarchy has molded my own posture in the complex world I find myself navigating as a female. I have internalized a belief structure that requires women to either cut off their rage or to hide it under layers of gentleness, politeness and thoughtfulness in order to be deemed worthy of lending an ear.
Rage found it’s way to the surface this week. If only for a moment, the seal was broken. After reading about the recent gruesome attack and gang rape of several aid workers in Sudan, being reminded of how rape is used as a weapon of war, and hearing news of Brock Turner’s release from jail after a measly three months, it was reading through the school dress codes for my daughters’ middle and high school that caused my blood to boil. Because it’s all connected. Somehow. And I hope to unpack some of that in future posts. But for now, I’m allowing the rage to surface.
My husband could tell that something was bothering me earlier in the week, and so he asked me what was wrong. I turned to him and the words came forth like a flame, “What the hell is wrong with our culture that this keeps happening? Why do we continue to produce emotionally underdeveloped men who think it’s their right to do what they want with women’s bodies? I’m so mad. I’m pissed at male culture. Honestly, I’m pissed at men.”
Telling the truth about my rage has opened up all sorts of deeper questions in the days that have followed that declaration. If I’m pissed at men, how does it affect my relationship with my husband, my fathers, my brothers and male friends? How does it impact my parenting? What am I really mad at within male culture? What is at the root? And ultimately, what do I do with the anger? Because that’s the hope — that anger can compel action toward a greater good, that it can generate movement or growth or transformation once it’s expressed or revealed.
Once again, I’m reminded that the first step is always deepening our awareness. It’s letting what has been unconscious, or subconscious, come into consciousness. So I’m swimming within that process, letting it do it’s thing. And then I’m sure even more will rise up. Who’s with me?