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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A Photographic Study of Stumps 2: In Death There Is Life   #365dayswild #naturenarratives

Recently I’ve been finding myself drawn to tree stumps. This was perhaps in part due to my observations of a local tree that had to be cut down after splitting during a storm, and which subsequently showed herself to be very much alive by sprouting abundant new growth, and whose story I documented in a previous post: A Photographic Study of Stumps: there’s life in the old tree yet  #365dayswild #naturenarratives. Another factor which sparked my interest was the film ‘Intelligent Trees’, featuring forester Peter Wohlleben and Dr Suzanne Simard, in which the dynamics of the mycorrhizal network were explained. Tree stumps in a forest may continue to live, even in the absence of any leaves of their own, as they may receive nourishment from other trees via the mycorrhizal network just under the soil that links all the trees. This led me to a closer observation of tree stumps to look for signs of life. It is rare for a tree stump to not maintain some form of life. Many tree stumps have a mossy hat on the cut surface, often also sprouting fungi of one sort or another, and some do actually have leafy regrowth. A fallen tree may continue to grow lying on its side, as some of the root system is still connected underground. Even dead wood is a supporter of life for insects and fungi, a visible manifestation of the cycle of life. So, in one way or other, trees that have fallen or been cut down are still very much a part of life. Their tenacity, longevity and force of life is truly incredible, something I find reassuring and comforting in this fast-paced modern world of disposability. In death there is life.

NB. If anyone wishes to comment on the species of fungi that would be most welcome, as that is not my area of expertise.

Tall tree stump
the mossy hat stands out on this tall tree stump
Tree stump
another mossy stump
Stump from the side
a heart shaped mossy hat
Heart shaped tree stump
moss and fungi looking content
Tree stump close up
close up
Fungi and moss
another angle close up-think I really like this stump!
Fungus on trunk
moss and bracket fungi
Tree stump study
stump is rotting but dependent species doing well
Tree stump flourishing
definitely alive here!
Tree stump regrowth
the stump is flourishing alongside the felled trunk
Fallen tree
fallen and felled
Tree stump fallen
supporting some moss

 

 

Musician vs Writer. A light-hearted look at my creative selves.


There’s a fight going on between my musician and my writer selves. Always the wrangling. My artist self is smaller and not as strong. The other two dominate. Musician self is an outright bully. Writer self likes peace and quiet and although driven, is satisfied when a piece of work is complete. Musician is a maniac that doesn’t want to stop until my eyeballs are bloodshot and my back is breaking. For musician self there is no end point. Creating just leads to more desire. I have to shut her out sometimes because if she gets even a foot in the door, before I know it, she has taken over and the hours whiz by while all around me plummets into chaos. I have been known to shut her out for months, even years. She’s too demanding. She has taken years of my life, and years off my sleep.

Writer self is more patient. Although she may inconveniently propose entire pieces of work at the most awkward moments—walking through town, or in the shower— and she forgets it if I don’t get it written down straight away, or loses the flow, remembering only fragments, if I ask her to wait and hold back her words, just hanging on to a keyword like a knot in a hanky, we can wait until I can stop and write. Then I give her permission to speak and it all comes out. There is a downside to her being so easily satisfied. She can be a little lazy, and a little quiet to speak up when other voices are clamouring for my attention. It is necessary to give her space, and quality time together, just the two of us. Musician self doesn’t need this kind of support because she just slams the door and stamps around when she really needs to be heard.

Musician and writer have been known to collaborate. They can inspire each other with their ideas. At this point artist might shyly step in and ask if she can do some cover art. Artist also likes to do photography, which writer finds helpful, and they may publish stuff together. Occasionally artist may do a little drawing, but this usually only happens when the other two are so burnt out that they’re both laid up, having a metaphorical lie in of major proportions. Drawing is soothing and relaxing. There is no screaming—of words or music—just a peaceful meditation on the subject. My drawing skills fall short of my imagination so it’s not long before writer or musician wake up and get the kettle on. Then we’re back to frantic typing and screaming in the kitchen. Hey ho.

© Janey Colbourne 2017

What Is Freedom? #nationalpoetryday

What Is Freedom?

Insidious, drip, drip, drip,
manipulation,
until normality
is life in a cage
of words and looks.
Like a dog that stands there docile,
the rope untied.

Some words do hurt,
do stick.
The most powerful,
parasitic,
worm into the mind,
unnoticed, unchallenged,
apparently innocuous,
sugar coated lies
on the nature of reality.

But a mind awakened
in the vast realms
of consciousness,
can no longer be seized,
for seeing true nature,
sees the rope,
untied.

© Janey Colbourne 2017

A Photographic Study of Stumps: there’s life in the old tree yet  #365dayswild #naturenarratives

I’m interested in tree stumps because firstly, they can continue to live on after falling down or being cut down, sometimes even in the absence of any leaves, if they are connected underground to other trees via the mycorrhizal network (known colloquially as the ‘wood wide web’). Irrespective of whether the stump itself lives on, it supports life in one form or another. I have started a photographic study of tree stumps, as a way to explore this. So far I’m noticing stumps either regrow foliage, or become a home for mosses and fungi.

I thought this tree was worthy of a post all to herself. On a night of very high winds in June her trunk split in half and most of the tree fell right across the road, damaging a car and roof of the house on the other side. Fortunately no one was injured, apart from the tree. Looking at the remaining trunk, there is a considerable length of it that is blackened, indicating that the tree had already been partially split for some time, perhaps from previous damage or disease. The next day we found the tree had been cut right down to a stump.

The tree is located in a small park area. There are a couple of trees close by that potentially could be linked to this tree through a mycorrhizal network, which exists only a few centimetres below the soil and so is easily disrupted by development or disturbance. In any case, seven weeks later we discovered the tree was sprouting shoots and some healthy leaves from the living layer of the tree just under the bark. This can be clearly seen in the photographs. As far as I can tell, these leaves are definitely the tree’s own growth and not some opportunist saplings. It was heartening to see this new healthy growth after the sadness and shock of seeing the apparent devastation of a fairly large tree. I am hopeful that her life is far from over and in fact, I sense she is more well since the loss of the damaged limbs. She may be diminished in size, but I think not in vitality. Close around her are many small saplings, presumably her children, and it seems likely that she will be connected to them at least, through a mycorrhizal network, and either she is nourishing them, or they are supporting her. Either way, they are all looking well, and now she has cleared a space, her children have room to flourish.

Today, sixteen weeks since she was cut down, I went to take another photograph before the leaves start to fall. I can see she and her sapling family have all had a fine growing spurt over the summer. I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress.

  

Tree after the storm 7 June
After being cut down 8 June
Signs of life emerging 31 July
Healthy new growth 31 July
New growth 31 July

Tree stump and her babies 26 September

 ©Janey Colbourne 2017

Lessons from Nettles

 

IMG_1912

Nettles flourish on disturbed ground or highly fertile land, liking high levels of nitrogen, so they grow in abundance where human activity such as intensive farming or waste dumping has enriched the soil. The more we artificially fertilise the soil, the more nettles will grow. Every child quickly learns to recognise nettles through the experience of being stung, and is taught to seek out dock leaves to rub on the sting for relief. This is a lesson that nature provides comfort as well as pain, and that beings that complement and balance each other are found in the same vicinity. It reminds me of what has been said about disaster situations, ‘look for the helpers’- a life lesson that reminds us to see the hope and the connection when we are in despair.

Nettles are also highly nutritious once cooked or dried out to neutralise the toxins, providing iron and other minerals. As a medicine nettles can help with hay fever. So nettles have a dual nature of both warrior and healer/helper. This has led to the saying, ‘grasp the nettle’. If one grasps the nettle firmly and boldly in the right way, with the stinging hairs lying flat to the plant, it is possible to pick it without being stung. So the phrase is used to mean tackle a difficult problem with courage. My thought is that it also means once you face it bravely you find the positive benefit (the nourishment) within.

©Janey Colbourne 2017

Here is a good article about the teachings of Poison Ivy from Dana at The Druid’s Garden blog:

Poison Ivy Teachings from The Druid’s Garden

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