Tag Archives: #metoo

Meeting the moment 2021 #15

When love comes to town it arrives as a cloud of sound and muscle memory aides accompany the voices employed to bring forth harmonious blasts worthy of Phil Spector and any Hammond organ – that’s how I feel when a room is full of choristers swaying to the beat under the direction of the maestro Tony Backhouse. Within an hour or so, sixty voices are singing as one and each individual contribution offers a placeholder; we are each others scaffold.  The power of sound and the spaces of silence in between are all the reminder I need of the value of making room for both. 

It’s been a noisy week and at times a cacophony in public places where the ones who have loud hailers still seem to drown out those who are speaking truth to power.  A number of conversations I have been in this past week have been washed in colonisation, under written by the blood of martyred First Nations and laced with the deepest of griefs of loss of love, family, friends, land and sea.   I get to sing in a repurposed church hall with confidence, saturated in goodness while around five hundred Aboriginal people have died in custody in the last thirty years, and flags at half mast for the death of the 99 year old consort of the monarch, fly in their face. This is a tone deaf moment.

I am lost in curiosity about what might be possible if all the flags flew at half mast every time there was a death in custody, let’s start small though with the Aboriginal flag in our city square. (The square is named Victoria, and the city Adelaide, named after the consort of a monarch William IV, who on his death, having failed to produce a child the monarchy went to his niece Victoria.) Hope the Lord Mayor is reading this or perhaps someone could forward it to her?  Tarntanyangga is the place of the red kangaroo and is getting more currency over the years in its use in public signage. The space is now shaped in the Kaurna shield, and while one of the architects of the White Australia Policy Kingston hovers on the edge, I was overjoyed when the place was brimming at the seams during the #BlackLivesMatter rally in June 2020 and again in March 2021 for the #Justice4Women March knowing Kingston was not a fan of the original women’s suffrage bill. He was also the first federal member for Adelaide in the fledgling federation he helped to created.  I love these quirks of fate that turn up like an augmented fifth blues notes in an other wise predictable set of chords and scales. There are plenty of them all around us and soon as we start to tune in, its easy to hear them.

Perhaps there is potential for understanding white noise as random signals of colonialism, distracting us for seeing and hearing what it might be trying to cover up? In recording, white noise is often defined as a hissing sound, which also seems like an apt metaphor, the hissing of those who must be heard over the quiet and invisible vectors lying underneath.

Meeting these moments with a full and open heart, ears to hear all the voices and being able to make harmony from notes put together by a leader looking for the sweetest sounds is needed for these times. There is no choir director in the House, and few who are singing from the same hymn sheet of anyone seeing justice. There is a lot of static and reverb, and there are only a few in tune with what song the nation is singing right now. The sopranos have shown up, there are a few tenors and altos as well, looking forward to a few more basses joining in the chorus soon.

White noise hides

What must be heard

Tone deaf excuses

Blind eyes turned.

No longer silent.

No longer invisible.

Sobbing from graves.

Keening in corridors.

Cries from

Megaphones and microphones,

Enough is enough.

The choir is assembled,

As a jury in session

Waiting impatiently for the judge to arrive.

A leader surely on the horizon?

Chords are coming

Call and response

Ready to manifest

When the ballot box comes.

Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash

Year of Self Compassion #26 #witness

Hannah Gadsby’s raw and powerful performance in Nanette is indelible. For anyone who is not the norm – what ever that is – who has been beaten to a pulp for not fitting in by someone else lower down the foodchain and yet somehow closer to being the norm, will resonate and celebrate her bravery and anger. This is not a review of her performance or of the content. I was effected at the cellular level and the experience of being witness to her story.

Holding onto her words about reputation and her desperate plea, her begging for straight, white, men to “pull their socks up” has me aching. I am aching for the men I know who are doing just that, pulling up their socks, being quiet, getting out of the way, relinquishing the space and celebrating the women in their lives. I am aching for the women who are pushing and pulling, and making the spaces for themselves and others and who recognise their own privilege and are getting out of the way for other women who are not the norm to fill it up. I am aching for myself, as I grow older and my own privileges change, and I am not welcome in places I was before. I am more invisible than before and I have so much privilege by virtue of my white, educated, housed, healthy, first world existence. I genuinely grieve for what I have lost but I had it to loose in the first place and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Inside of me, there is arrogance and there is shame.

Stripping back. Unplugged. Bare. The hollow space, no, hollow spaces, laying empty inside of me and more hollow and louder because they were once full.

Watching Gadsby’s performance was watching her fill up. With each breath and phrase, she added a layer of energy of power and in doing so didn’t take anything away from another else. She wasn’t emptying herself with self-deprecation, she was filling herself with the audacity of vulnerability. Persecution is not funny. Alienation is not hilarious. The stage is her safe place, no one is going to interrupt her, she knows how to hold tension. As audience, we are all witnesses, but there is no witness protection program for the white, straight men or for those who stand with them. I have colluded with many of them, made them look good by being the feisty and friendly feminist, toning down my anger to make it all a little more comfortable. It isn’t comfortable for the Gadsby’s of the world who are aching and hurt, raped and excluded. I am setting myself the challenge to be at least one or two more shades braver and will think of Gadsby’s brave choices to tell us her story (not the least using art history as the medium to explain perspective and women’s exploitation on the canvas).

It has been a week of being haunted, and watching Gadsby’s performance made sense of some of the haunting in ways I won’t share today. But I do want to say protection, privilege, reputation are taking me to humility, guilt and shame too. Brene Brown says she is ‘pro-guilt’ because it helps us stay on track and make choices to move away from behaviours and helps us align with our personal values. Gadsby showed up. All of her showed up. And as I witnessed her performance I witnessed a powerful act of self-compassion. The room was full of light and she managed to banish some of her own darkness with her anger, her begging and her relentless seeking to come home to herself. This is a quest for humanity, not power or privilege. It is a quest for us all to be each others witness, to make space for one another to be heard, to be seen, to be whole, to be healed.

We got to show up for ourselves and for our people. We got to show up for each other. There is enough room for all of us and diversity is the first step, inclusion the second. Start with the first step as David Whyte reminds us: “Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.” Close in for this white women is with the white men I am around, its easy to go to the margins, much harder to start close to home.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. Brene Brown

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Photo by Jan Haerer on Unsplash

Year of Self Compassion #18 #dancing

I have always loved to move my body, but to call these movements dancing would be an overstatement. The instruction to dance as if no-one is watching is easier for me when no-one is actually watching. In a conversation this past week I learnt of women who danced to a DJ hidden behind a screen while they removed their veils and danced wildly and inclusively with women of many cultures. And then last night I had the opportunity to dance with women from all over the world and together we laughed and moved easily between and around each other in a universal language of movement. The evening ended with Shania Twain’s “Man I feel like a woman!” With around 50 nations represented in the room the whoops and cheers and freedom expressed moved me to tears. There was a glimpse of living like it’s heaven on earth.

Sing like no one is listening.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like it’s heaven on earth. – Mark Twain

I am wobbly and finding it hard to find solid ground. The earth between my feet keeps shifting despite my attention to the horizon. Looking up helps. I know singing helps and last night I was reminded dancing helps. The global sisterhood helps. Family and friends help.

In a week where I have drawing from a well of women’s wisdom (at the Global Summit for Women) and a week where famous men have been on trial with one notorious conviction completed with a sentence, my heart and head turn to the women we are for each other and in each other’s lives. I was honoured to hear from the first woman President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga tell her nation’s tale of systemic sexual violence and how she has led the movement for this taboo to be lifted by recognising this women as war heroes and survivors alongside other veterans. The women who survive domestic violence and those who stand alongside of them in the law, the shelters, the support services, in the hospitals are the foot soldiers in this everyday battle field where power plays out in the bedrooms and kitchens all around the world. This past 12 months has been a watershed year with campaigns like #metoo going like wildfire around the world aided and amplified by social media and the bravery of women speaking up and telling their stories.

My inner work is solitary and swirling. More discoveries every day seeking to be banished but not before integration, feels like asking canker to make a home before it is treated. Canker in birds is an ancient pathogen that goes back to the dinosaurs. The pathogen has patriarchy in its DNA and infects my heart and soul. Patriarchy needs to be as extinct as any dinosaur. There is an antidote for pathogen and I have a suspicion that dancing’s healing powers might be part of the medicine. My privileges are many, and call me back to reality. all the while I am on one hell of a personal journey. I am a reluctant traveller on this road, but whether I want to walk it or not, the path unfolds before me.

Time to dance like no-one is watching.

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Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash