Books I’ve been reading, recent news, posts on the internet, images that come to mind… all have been coming together in a pattern, or almost a pattern, or maybe an almost combination that’s con-fusing… To me, con-fusing suggests melting together, dictionary says put two things together that don’t belong, dis-order. It’s all very confusing. Perhaps my mind is treating things more as images than as intellectual words. Or perhaps I’m slightly triggered and my neo-cortex is offline.
Carol Lee Flinders, in At the Root of This Longing, points out that rape & murder of little girls is done by psychopaths, but they are allowed to do it by a culture of male dominance that uses them to keep women “in their place.” She talks about mothers cautioning and being protective of their daughters. I immediately remember the video of Black parents trying to explain to their little boys how they need to behave around police. I know that racism is also a consequence of a dominator culture. As is colonialism and exploitation of the earth. It’s a little scary how many different systems are part of it, and how deep the conditioning goes into our psyches and nervous systems.
Carol Lee Flinders talks about the luminous vulnerability of little girls on the cusp of womanhood, age 12 or 13. She also describes the rape and murder of 12-yr-old Polly Klaas in her community. She quotes from Tony Hillerman’s description of a kinaalda ceremony in which the Navajo/Dine celebrate a young woman’s menarche. A completely different type of culture.
I think of young men on the cusp of manhood. No ceremony of going into the wilderness for 3 days of solitude and prayer for a dream that gives direction for their lives. No. Our “initiation” into “manhood” is older boys bullying them and turning them into bullies. They aren’t men at all, only wounded boys who swagger and hide their wounds so deeply that even they don’t see them.
One of the more beautiful examples of how our culture is ruled by “Boys” is Gina Loring’s “Walking Prayers.” It also shows how what we have been conditioned to think of as “beauty” is in fact “glamour” as suggested by John O’Donohue, in a talk with Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise, pp75-78 He says “True beauty is what makes you feel more alive.” There are wonderful examples of that at the end of this short video.
My own experience at age 12 was that my father came into my room when I was in bed and started feeling my breasts. I pretended to be asleep, groaned, and rolled over and he left. The last time I recovered that as an actual memory (now it’s a story) it contained the feeling “o no not this again.” I knew there was no point in saying anything. But since then, I have never been able to sleep on my back. Because I saw my father not as a “real man” but as a “petty tyrant,” I learned that I was only good enough to be molested by losers.
At the same age, I remember feeling “that twilight feeling.” It happened at our summer house in Maine. Mom & Dad would go out for a cocktail party and dinner. I would be left to feed 7 year old Jack, 6 year old Josephine, and 4 year old Jesse, and get them into bed. I remember figuring out how to cook hamburgers by burning the first batch. Once the younger kids were in bed, I would be essentially alone in the empty house while dusk fell. I remember looking out a window into grayness and seeing my life stretching out in grayness ahead of me, my only value in taking care of someone else’s children.
I saw my father’s action as the reason I couldn’t have sex with my husband, and “that twilight feeling” as my first experience of depression. It was years before I realized that not only was I abused and exploited, I was traumatized.