A brilliant colleague of mine said, “We had a contest between a monster and a woman, and the monster won.” Monsters often win in a contest with a woman, and they always win in a contest with a child.
Trump’s comments about sexual assault triggered many women. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, and 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members. 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male.” Additionally, “One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.” Our new president-elect openly rejoiced at how he can get away with assaulting women and most likely teenage girls because of his power and status. I’m tired of thinking about his many transgressions and hate-filled rhetoric. I’m tired of thinking about how he jumps on SNL but doesn’t rip into his supporters who are perpetrators of hate crimes in his name. My heart is heavy. The real work of social change must occur because a cumulative mass of people prove that they do care about women and children’s safety. After this election, we can clearly see several areas in deep need of healing in our society including racism, anti-antisemitism, Islamophobia, sexism, able-body-ism, etc.
Where do we start? More than calling an individual a monster, I prefer to think of ingrained patterns of sexism and violence against women as a monstrous part of society. Years ago, when I heard feminists say, “It almost seems like there is a war against women,” I thought they were over-reacting. I didn’t want to believe a statement like that, but something in my gut told me this statement contained some truth. I know that one woman can’t fight a monster of a problem like sexism and violence against women but a group of us can. I love the work of men like Jackson Katz who openly speak to men about the bystander approach. We are going to need a lot of bystanders in our world, and I hope that greater numbers of men will become more aware of this issue and work as leaders to end this type of violence. The larger the group of us, the more success we will all have in shifting problems in society. We must keep marching into the light and into the creation of a better world. As Doreen Virtue recently said on Instagram,
“…if earth life was perfect, there would be no need for you to be here at this time. You signed up to be a spiritual healer, and it’s time to get to work.”
We have a lot of work to do. In particular, how do we work together to heal the pain evident in many women after this election, and how do we create a safer world? My hope is that the more of us who come together and share our stories, especially in person, bearing witness and being present for one another, the more trauma can be released. We must find ways to listen without judging and understand the suffering of another. We must find ways to create spaces where men can learn to empathize and hear women’s suffering without judgement. Most of all, we all must find ways to work to protect people from abuse and discrimination. I would love to hear how you are working to create safer communities or hear about what you desire most for your fellow human beings. How do we bring in the people who don’t care about the rights of women and minorities into the conversation? How do we rehabilitate their broken places? How do we open their hearts to contain more people?
On our campus, we are creating safe spaces for conversations around particular books like The Theater of War by Brian Dorries which address PTSD. Though PTSD is primarily associated with veterans, it is an applicable term for survivors of sexual assault. Today, an Iraqi Veteran student said that he only wanted his fellow students and professors to ask him if he was o.k. Sometimes, he didn’t feel o.k. His admission opened the hearts of everyone in the large crowd. We are all in need of each other’s support. Once we see the true struggle of others, our hearts break open with the beauty we see inside of them. We are love at our very core and essence. Let us remember this. I hope that love is what wins beyond the realm of this political contest. Love for the safety and well-being of everyone. In the meantime, many of us have to grieve and go through these stages of grief over this election at our own pace. The results of this election is proving to be a tough blow for sensitive souls. Give us plenty of time to grieve.
Here is a beautiful piece covering Buddhist teachers responses to a Trump election.
I leave you with a beautifully written piece by Kara Post-Kennedy about America after this election.