Are We Ready for Truth and Reconciliation Around Sexual Violence? #MeToo

December 18th, 2017

By Lissa Rankin

Guest writer for Wake Up World

A teenage Icelandic woman is raped by her Australian boyfriend after she’s had too much to drink. In his own immature, conditioned teenage mind, he doesn’t call it rape. Because the media and pornography and the way fathers raise sons and bro’s egg on bro’s, he convinces himself that he was justified in taking what was rightfully his — her body, her vulnerability, her sexuality, maybe even her physical and mental health. She is traumatized by the experience, and in his own way, he is too. Her life unravels, and so does his.

We know the story. Almost every woman I’m close to has been raped, molested, or sexually harassed. (You can read my #MeToo story here.) But the horrific story of this young woman and the man who raped her has a different ending, mostly because these two refused to simplify their story into a cut and dried duality of victim/monster. They were brave enough to see the humanity in each other and then to write a book about it and give a TED talk together.

What touches me most in this TED talk by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger is at about the 13-minute mark, when Thordis Elva points out that whenever someone accuses another of a sexual crime, words inevitably get in the way.

She says:

“Given the nature of our story, I know the words that inevitably accompany it — victim, rapist — and labels are a way to organize concepts. But they can also be dehumanizing in their connotations. Once someone has been deemed a victim, it’s that much easier to file them away as someone damaged, dishonored, less than. And likewise, once someone has been branded a rapist, it’s that much easier to call him a monster, inhuman. But how we will understand what it is in human societies that produces violence if we refuse to recognize the humanity of those who commit it? And how can we empower survivors if we’re making them feel less than? How can we discuss solutions to one of the biggest threats to women and children around the world if the very words we use are part of the problem?”

This TED talk touched me deeply. THIS. We are desperate for truth and reconciliation. Women are finally activating their power and using their voices to speak from the heart and use the fire in their bellies to call out this ragged edge of the human experience. But if we use our power and our voices without engaging our hearts, we are at risk of becoming the next perpetrators, dehumanizing the very people who dehumanized us.

Our Culture Has Brutalized Our Men. These Men Then Brutalize Our Women.

In a Facebook post speaking out against critics who were objectifying and criticizing her daughter Willow’s new haircut, Jada Pinkett-Smith eloquently described “the war on men through the degradation of women,” expressing better than I ever could what has been crying out in my own heart.

“How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only. The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes. I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.

“There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer. He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize. He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him 4 four children. When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.

“Power and control will NEVER out weigh love. May we all find our way.”

Holy Goddess. Preach it, sister.

Is It Too Soon To Care About How Our Men Are Hurting?

I don’t think it’s too soon to care about and listen to our men. I think nobody rises until we all rise, and we need our men right next to us as women stand up and say ENOUGH ALREADY. We can still undo the damage that has been done if we’re willing to do what Thordis and Tom dared to do together. We can all start listening to one another, rather than letting our righteous anger cause more harm through shaming, blaming, and demonizing, which separates rather than uniting the genders.

We must, instead, invite men back into the fold, invite them to join us in their Sacred Masculine strength, to pave the way with the power of the Divine Feminine like Thordis and Jada are doing, using their powerful voices and their open, compassionate hearts to stand for peace between the genders. If we can’t have truth and reconciliation — men listening to what hurts in women and women listening to what hurts in men, giving each other a chance to speak and be heard with our hearts wide-open — we will NEVER have peace on earth.

As the feminine rises, we cannot simply demonize and marginalize our men. Nobody rises unless we all rise together.

We Are All In This Together.

We are in the midst of a massive collective transformation right now. It is a confronting and exciting time to be human, but this time demands us to open our hearts bigger than we ever have. We need a miracle, but I for one believe in miracles.

Now is the time when men need to listen to how much pain and trauma and devastation women feel when you objectify and abuse us. Women need to understand that our sick culture is at the root of this problem — that men are not inherently brutal, as this NY Times article The Unmistaken Brutality of the Male Libido mistakenly suggests.

I get that the man who wrote this NY Times article is trying to say, “WAKE UP! We need to talk about redefining healthy masculinity!” But it also disturbs me to suggest that male sexuality is inherently aggressive, violating, and brutal and that the male libido is something to contain, even fear. Many men are already threatened by men and prefer the company of women, and of course, women are violated by men all the time. The truth is that, with few exceptions, men are doing most of the killing and raping on the planet. So what is a kind-hearted, strong, ethical, conscious man to do? Become a woman?

We Need Men In Their Divine Power as Allies.

Men are afraid of their power because power leads to violence, and men are afraid of their desire because their libido leads to rape. But we don’t want men stripped of their power and their desire! Such men are impotent. How can the healthy masculine activate the compassionate protector archetype that will look out for the vulnerable if they are feminized men out of touch with their power and their desire?

We don’t need men to be women, but we do need men brave enough and strong enough in their power to stand up to brutalizing men and say THIS STOPS NOW. We need men who marry their power with their hearts and their integrity. We need those men to stand with the women and the female and male children who are sick and tired of being violated. We need men to call each other out, to refuse to buy into the program, to speak up when men get together and start objectifying women as if it’s some badge of masculinity to talk about someone’s nice rack or grab-able pussy.

For that matter, we need men to stop calling each other pussies, as if a woman’s genitalia is a sign of her inferiority and therefore an insult to a man’s masculinity. We need men to reckon with their own feminine energy, to honor their own compassion, nurturing, vulnerability, tribe-mentality, collaboration, and tenderness, right alongside the masculine qualities of strength, power, stillness, focus, desire, competition, and drive. Only when we heal the trust rift between the masculine and the feminine — in ourselves, in partnerships, in corporations, and in nations — will we come together in the power of our open hearts.

We Need Truth and Reconciliation.

Guys, if you’ve hurt a woman because of how our culture conditioned you, please reach out and say you’re sorry. Do what it takes to make apologies and make amends, even if it’s really, really hard and requires seemingly impossible courage. Women, if someone has hurt you, try to ask yourself, “What had to happen to you to make you someone who could commit this horrific act? What’s it like to be you?” Don’t just assume the person is a monster. Protect yourself from sociopaths, of course. Speak up and demand consequences, of course. Don’t do the “spiritual bypass” and fall into blind compassion and neurotic tolerance, using your compassion as a way to avoid conflict or establish consequences. That just makes you vulnerable to more abuse. But don’t dehumanize your abuser either. Get really curious.

Imagine if our President actually apologized to the women he groped the way Tom Stranger bore witness to the pain he caused Thordis. It touched me that he lived in Australia. She lived in Iceland. To reconcile, they chose to meet in South Africa, where horrors occurred and truth and reconciliation were at least attempted.

What if those who are being accused of #MeToo violations were brave enough to sit down with the survivors like this man did, to sit with their pain, to hear their humanity, to feel their own pain and speak to what eats at them, to express what led them to behave that way in the first place? What if, instead of survivors and perpetrators, we could gather as humans who have all been tormented by a sick culture that dehumanizes women and presents them as something for a man’s pleasure, something he can just grope if he feels like it without regard for her humanity? What if we can actually cure the culture, rather than pointing fingers — blaming and shaming — which only makes people contract and perpetuates more abuse?

A Call To Action — To The Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine In Us All…

Yes, women need to have a voice and speak their truth, but what if women could use our voices the way Thordis did here—as voices of fierce love, forgiveness, and reconciliation, not just showing compassion for herself, but compassion for the man at the mercy of a sick culture who — possessed by his conditioning — hurt her? What if men could stand up to protect the #MeToo women, to be compassionate protectors of the vulnerable? What if we could actually heal?

We are all in this together. We can do hard things with great love. Let’s do this, beloveds.

lissa-signature

About the author:

Lissa Rankin MD, Wake Up World bioLissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician on a grass roots mission to heal healthcare, while empowering you to heal yourself. She is the founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and  healthcare providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of the books Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (2013), The Fear Cure (2014), and The Anatomy of a Calling (2015).

Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and created the online community HealHealthCareNow.com. She is also the author of several other books, a speaker, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Connect with Lissa on Facebook and Twitter, or visit LissaRankin.com.

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  • Dear Lissa,

    I just found your article through the ACEs Connection summary by Dana Brown. It’s heartening to see you keep the whole picture in mind – these are indicators of a culture that is in distress and out of balance. It’s about communicating, where and when we can, and finding our way through in new ways. I’ve had my own experiences of #metoo, and I’ve also married a kind, large-hearted man who has experienced the imbalances in our culture and how we raise men (and women) in ways that do not support being whole.

    I took a look at Whole Health Institute. I’m a big fan of Rachel Remen’s and many others on your faculty whose work informed my own and helped me begin to heal as well.

    I’m a family physician who retrained as a somatic therapist and blog about the research, mechanisms and links between trauma and other serious life events (during the perinatal period, in childhood, from ACEs and multigenerational effects, etc). Our growing awareness of how life events interact with genes to shape long-term health offers powerful new perspectives for pathways to healing.

    Thanks for your post and I appreciate the work you are doing with health care professionals!

  • Harvey Mitterdorf

    It is true that a very two-sided problem can only be solved by both sides wholeheartedly working at it. However, the problem is much bigger and deeper than you present here. From what I have seen it is not only men who objectify women; they objectify themselves. It seems that women very readily see the fault with men but have almost no comprehension of their own faults in this area. Until the women of the world can understand their own contribution to the problem there won’t be much of a solution other than putting the “wolves” behind bars.

  • Lissa, you are the BEST. I always – well, mostly – love your articles. I too have a hard time demonizing men when I know they have been badly hurt and they are always doing their best they can.

    There is hospital birth trauma for most of us and then there is the additional trauma the majority of men have endured in the form of genital mutilation. I was circumcised as a little girl in Kansas (for discipline?) and I think it was due to that forgotten surgery that I always could relate better to men than to women… and when Women’s Lib came around, I thought it strange. In my mind, men needed liberating as much as women, if not more.

    Please people, don’t let them hurt your baby boys. Genital cutting is a hurt that often lasts a lifetime until and unless it is addressed and consciously released. In Europe, the two genders do not think, behave, and perform on IQ tests, all that differently. I wrote a little book about my story called, “Female Genital Mutilation and Circumcision in the USA.”