Finding my Way in the Dark

It’s the dark of the moon, sunlight is waning, and my mood is dark.

For four years now I’ve not ventured into politics in this blog—I figure we all get plenty of that elsewhere—but it’s been a hard week and I’m struggling. I can only imagine how the many women who have been raped or assaulted are feeling. Yet even without that experience myself, my rage has been triggered, based on a lifetime of being ignored, discounted, and unheard as a woman. Decades (and lifetimes) of this, even as a privileged white woman amongst educated and privileged men.

A few days ago I felt encouraged, as new information and support for women was continuously spilling forth in the news. Secrets revealing the misogynist culture at Yale. Dr. Ford’s courage, and her story validated by stories from women all over the country. Unprecedented letters written by the American Bar Association and hundreds of law professors.

Yet on Friday and Saturday we learned it made no difference. (Apparently the majority of the Judiciary Committee were so intent on getting what they wanted that they couldn’t hear, or wouldn’t listen to, all those voices crying “no.” Kind of like a man intent on rape who is unable or unwilling to hear “no”?)

How to channel my rage and sense of helplessness?

I spent two days writing a fiery poem about it all. That helped, a little.

On several days, including today, I tried to swim it off in an extra-vigorous workout. Helped some.

But now I’m cranky all over again reading an article in the Sunday Star Tribune (from the Washington Post) about the Metoo movement “one year later.” The article is mostly factual, but the subtext questions whether the movement has really changed anything around the world. I’m annoyed to see it–I don’t want the paper provoking any more hopelessness in a bad week. And I’m irritated if the impact of the movement is measured mostly by action taken by governments, businesses and organizations (action which has been slim so far). While of course concrete action is the goal, let’s not discount that:

  • vast numbers of women have revealed painful stories and have been heard and supported;
  • these stories and others have revealed the depth and breadth of violence against women and its coverup, over decades;
  • the effect of seeing, practically for the first time, some powerful men suffering consequences for their transgressions against women is gratifying and serves as a warning to others.

It strikes me as typically wrongheaded in our world: we want to measure success largely by outward organized action, rendering trivial the harder-to-perceive, but nevertheless real, impact from unburdening hearts, forging emotional connection, strengthening and healing communities and revealing hidden difficult truths.

Oh, I actually feel better now. I don’t want to make that same mistake in thinking about the Supreme Court nomination process. While I’m angry about the outcome and dread the coming years, still there is reason for hope. The collective opening of hearts may be invisible but it is real. Secrets have been revealed that cannot be untold. Voices have been unlocked that will not close up again. It will not be forgotten that certain politicians have openly defied their constituents and ignored the input of hundreds of knowledgeable professionals.

Male elite privilege; the strangling of women’s voices; the degree to which the Supreme Court is, or should be, political—these topics, among many others, will continue to be discussed all over. We will disagree about them, and it may well take a long time to see the concrete changes we want to see.

While I try to bolster my patience, I am going to remind myself:

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

                                                                                                                                Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In spite of everything I believe that compassion, truth, kindness, and integrity, while seemingly absent from public life, are actually hidden and gestating in the dark.

What do you think?

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12 Comments

  1. So well expressed. It is hard to feel very positive when the outcome was so disappointing. However, as you so wisely pointed out, we can’t lose track of all that has been accomplished in a relatively short time – when one considers how long and strongly patriarchy and misogyny have reigned. It is important that women remember it is not how long it takes, but how many important individuals are impacted in every step forward, in healing and in correction.

    Reply
    • Anne Peek

      Thank you, Linda, for your comments, and for reminding us to be patient. One important step at a time–at the speed of care and connection.

      Reply
  2. Thank you very much for this, Anne. I’ve been in Deep Pensive mode around these topics for a week or so, and am so grateful that the grief was just a flash, but the planning and brainstorming and scheming of new solutions is already trying to ignite in my head (and heart). I do my work for so many women who have chosen their own path rather than work for others, and I know now this is part of the reason why I do it — to create more options, more freedom, more escape routes from misogyny. Dreaming and pondering how I can help even more…

    Reply
    • Anne Peek

      Thank you, Margaret, for helping so many women lessen the effects of at least some of these issues. I can totally relate to the “brainstorming and scheming of new solutions” and wondering how to help more. It is my sense that the old structures, crumbling on their shaky foundations, will not be useful for change; what is necessary is the creativity and imagination of folks like you who are feeding their hearts, discovering new pathways and creating lasting transformation of the culture.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for giving words to all that I have been feeling as we are moving through these challenging times together. It helps me feel less alone in the mess of it all.

    Reply
    • Anne Peek

      I’m so glad it helped Teresa. We do need to reach out and support each other these days!

      Reply
  4. Annie, I so needed this today. Today was the day the grief hit. I’ve been so busy campaigning for a powerful black woman running for mayor who I hope can save my beloved city from the gentrification and displacement before it’s too late, but today I’m “off” as we prepare for our first real vacation (as opposed to relative hops) and drive to the Grand Canyon.

    Reply
    • Anne Peek

      Thank you Marcia for all you are doing (and have done for decades) to try to move things forward. I’am happy when I can support you! Hope your well-deserved vacation is lovely.

      Reply
  5. Anne, as always you have put into words the disquietude we are all feeling. In actuality, this isn’t about politics, it just came back into our front of mind yet again because of the politicization of not so invisible misogyny that we all struggle with.
    As our voices continue to rise, and our votes re tallied at the ballot box, we will force change. By ‘we’ I mean women AND men who are dedicated to equality as a reality not as a concept. Who understand that empowering women is not at the expense of dis-empowering men.
    By ‘we’ I mean parents who teach their sons and daughters about dignity, abuse of power, and that ‘boys will be boys’ should mean men modeling kindness, compassion, dignity towards all instead of what it means now, so their sons and daughters carry on that behavior into their world.

    Reply
    • Anne Peek

      Thanks for your comments Leslie. Very well said!

      Reply
  6. Thanks Anne for this post. So well said and true.

    Reply
    • Anne Peek

      I’m glad it resonated Barbara.

      Reply

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