On the #metoo campaign and #victimblaming

Trigger warning: content discusses sexual violence

I’d like to thank the Guardian for the detailed and clearly written article  ‘Harvey Weinstein: a list of the women who have accused him’ by Caroline Davies and Nadia Khomami on 21 October 2017. This article conveys how the women felt they were manipulated and intimidated, and in some cases physically attacked by Weinstein and I think it’s important to hear those voices as a counter to the victim blaming that I have been seeing on social media— in some cases, most alarmingly, from other women survivors of sexual assault. Not only are perpetrators dominating, controlling and destroying lives, they also have the satisfaction of seeing the women blame each other for it. This demonstrates the level of their manipulative powers and that misogyny is deeply endemic in our culture.

According to the allegations in this article, the victims were all terrified of Weinstein. When a man unexpectedly removes his clothing in inappropriate circumstances the first thought of a vulnerable woman (or man) is, how far do his lack of boundaries go? Can I get out of here alive? What do I have to do to get out of here alive? This is not a man who is taking no for an answer. If you’re going to run or fight, you had better be sure you can get away. And you have a split second to think about it before he makes his move.

As a society, we need to have a conversation about what constitutes consent. Acquiescing out of fear is not consent, whether it is fear for our safety, career, or anything else. As it happens, many of the women quoted in the Guardian article said they found some way to escape. Nevertheless, judgement should not be laid on those who did not feel safe to resist his advances. The shame of compliance in the face of sexual intimidation is one of things that keeps victims quiet, that allows the perpetrators to get away with it, to continue getting away with it, committing sexual violence to so many others. Weinstein preyed on the young and naive,  allegedly telling them, “This is how Hollywood works”. Power is the keyword here. Sexual violence is all about power— a cycle of using power to maintain power. Abuse of power in order to abuse in order to have power. A powerful cycle. Manipulation. Charm. Lies. Shaming. Gaslighting. Being in a position of power or authority. Physical violence. Threats. Blackmail. Bribery. Do not underestimate the psychological powers of a predator.

Gaslighting is a term to describe a technique of manipulation where a victim is made to doubt their own sanity, memory, judgement and perception, through the use of mind games and deceit. This enables the perpetrator to keep the victim trapped, dependent and compliant. If as victims we are blaming and silencing each other, then we have all been gaslighted.

No victim should be made to feel ashamed for what happened to them, or for how they dealt with it. For some, the #metoo campaign has been profoundly triggering. For those who cannot bear to speak of their pain, I hope that those of us who do may offer some comfort that our voices challenge the acceptance of this violence as a normal and inevitable part of life, in the hope that all our daughters may have a better, safer future.

Janey Colbourne 2017

Related content:
https://heartseer.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/what-is-freedom-nationalpoetryday/

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Unity in Diversity: our hope for the future

I don’t believe that it’s coincidence that as we face growing environmental concerns, inextricably linked with enormous humanitarian crises around the world, we also have the emergence of the most enlightened, awakened and inclusive vision of what it means to be human. We have the potential to utterly transform our world. Around the world prejudice in all forms is being challenged as never before. 

      I believe we are stepping into a new era- the age of neurodiversity pride. Let’s celebrate the diversity of the human being to its fullest extent. We acknowledge the diversity of race, gender, sexuality, religion and culture. It’s time now to acknowledge the value of the diversity of the human brain, to accept and celebrate diverse modes of perception. Neurodiversity encompasses a significant proportion of the population, in the form of high sensitivity, ADHD, ASD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and so on, many of whom see their neurodiversity as a fundamental part of their identity, not as a disorder, since there are benefits and strengths as well as disadvantages. Everyone has some skill, gift, talent or wisdom to share with the world and to deny that, or to be oblivious to it, is to deny the richness of our human capability as an entire species. It’s time to evolve to the next level.
I have great hope for the potential future of humanity. We have in our hands an enormous opportunity. In times of crisis we can work so well together. The generations who lived through the World Wars experienced what we can achieve when we have to unite against a common enemy. The greatest enemy now is within. it is our apathy and sense of disempowerment, our despair, lack of courage and self-belief. It is so true that we fear our own power. We cannot afford to any longer. We face the greatest environmental crisis in human history. Yet all around me I see visions of hope, inspiration, compassion, courageous action, scientific discovery and inventiveness. We have the creative potential to live the most awesome lives of abundance and fulfilment, in harmony with the earth and each other. I truly believe it. Only our fear holds us back.
The global village brings us the awareness of not only inequality, injustice and environmental catastrophes but also of biological and cultural diversity and how awesome and precious that is. These things can no longer be swept under the carpet, despite the best efforts of a media controlled by those with vested interests. 
Globalisation of business corporations creates a dangerous centralisation of power and a worldwide influence on culture and values, but at the same time accessible international communications empowers us through enabling a broad insight and access to unprecedented sources of knowledge. Ideas and news spread like wildfire. Communities of like minded individuals can unite to inspire each other and act together. Let’s seize this opportunity. It’s time to wake up, wise up and rise up! 
© Janey Colbourne 2017

This Is Capitalism

We live in a society in which peasants used to be paid in beer,
to keep them happy in their mundane lives,
To numb them from the reality of their poverty and enslavement.
Now we are paid in money,
and are expected to buy our own beer, wine, coffee, cake, toothpaste, perfume
(consumer goods for your satisfaction & distraction)
and this is capitalism.

The illusion of choice for the profit of the few;
Cars, houses, holidays you can spend your life paying for
(consumer lifestyle for satisfaction and distraction).
Advertisements advising on the meaning of our lives:
Do remind us how to fulfill our individuality through purchasing of mass produced goods, sold to the masses.

Do remind us;
Money is the new drug.
This is capitalism:
How you control our lives.

They dazzle your eyes and capitalize on your blindness.
Semantical tactics: Using language to define your reality.
“Consumer goods. Consumerism. We are consumers.”

Money is the new drug.
This is capitalism.
This is a prison.

Semantical tactics: Using language to define your reality.
“Consumer goods. Consumerism. We are consumers.”
The illusion of choice for the profit of the few.
They dazzle your eyes and capitalize on your blindness.

This is capitalism.

Define your reality.

Work Capability Assessments and the Disabled

It is probably the genuinely sick and disabled who suffer most from the government’s policies on work capability assessments. The constant barrage of not-so-thinly-veiled threats: “you must attend an assessment interview; if you don’t get enough points you will not be entitled; you will be assessed for work capability; you may be expected to do work-related activities” (all delivered at rapid speed on a crackling phone line) -begins immediately on the very first phone call to make a claim. No matter if your medical certificate is for two weeks or two months. The people most likely to be put off by this approach are in fact the genuinely sick. The impression given is that the default assumption is that everyone is pulling a fast one. The process is humiliating, intimidating and degrading, adding insult to injury, and piling on a few more reasons to be terrified, on top of whatever affliction you are already struggling with. When you are ill, this is exactly the kind of thing that is so difficult to cope with, and exactly the kind of stress you don’t need. There is ironically a danger of people actually being sick for longer than they would have, because of the pressure they are under. Stress has a major impact on health. That is one of the reasons people need time off-not just because they can’t physically manage their job, but because illness and disability can profoundly affect mental and emotional capacity. The irony is that those who are mentally and emotionally incapacitated are the least able to articulate their difficulties and defend themselves. This becomes a vicious cycle: persecuting them for not recovering, preventing recovery, ad infinitum. Who knows where it ends? Perhaps shortened life-span? Eugenics anyone?

© Janey Colbourne 2017

 

Heteronormative Dictator a #poem

Did you fancy girls
When you were 13?
Did anyone try to say,
No you must be gay?

So you know better
Than the boy himself.
Your heteronormative
Privilege dictates
He has no right
To say who he is
Himself.

He must be confused.
How can anyone know
They are gay?
How did you know
you were straight?

How dare you
Dictate
His right to know
His own feelings,
His own desires.

Imagine yourself
At 13,
Those first awakenings
To your adult identity.
Your first crush,
Crushed

By the arrogance
Of those
Who see not
Your heart.

©Janey Colbourne 2017

Here is the spoken word version on my YouTube channel

Object Thinking

“When object thinking becomes part of us, it can imbue us with a subtle but pervasive sense of alienation and distance to the world. It can give us false hopes that the solutions to complex problems can simply be implemented and everything will get better. Of course we are not object thinkers all the time, but we are very good in day-to-day life in using object thinking to compartmentalize: We may treat our pet dog as a precious ensouled creature at home and carry out animal experiments in the lab. In many ways it is almost impossible to navigate in our world today without exercising some kind of compartmentalization.”

Craig Holdrege
in ‘Thinking like a Plant: a living science for life’