February #MeToo: 16 Things White Women Can Do for a World Where Kavanaugh’s Hearing Never Happens Again
Do the 2018 Kavanaugh hearings feel like old news? Calling out sexual assault is just the first step. The #MeToo movement is about turning around a very, very large battleship. Real change will involve a colossal cultural shift that’s as radical, yet as small, as the prehistoric human discovery of fire.
This month’s guest post calls white women to challenge the status quo, and to foster healing for ourselves and our communities. –HWM
–Guest Post by Rita Sinorita Fierro, PhD
Originally published on Medium on October 4, 2018
I spent the whole day Thursday listening to the Dr. Ford-Judge Kavanaugh hearing. It haunted me. Dr. Ford’s emotion, more than anything else. As a trauma survivor who has been studying trauma for years, the explicit parts of her statement, the ones where she described her trauma, felt utterly realistic. The lowering and shaking of her voice, the shallow breathing, forgetting to drink water. All signs of a survivor reliving the trauma. This all shook me and drove home even more the importance of #BelieveWomen.
What haunted me was something else: the controlled and contained demeanor of compressed rage and strength that surrounded the wound-filled story. Her voice as a thin as a needle. As few words as possible (“Correct”). The sweet/high pitch (“I’m used to being collegial”). The deferential demeanor (“I wish I could be more helpful”). Tremendous strength and rage hidden behind a thin veil of weakness.
Outside of the fact she was speaking up at all, it was a perfect display of normative white femininity. Only this would allow her message to be heard on the other side. Had her demeanor opposed patriarchy in any way, her content, her experience would have not been heard.
What haunted me was the gut-wrenching realization of how, as white women, we uphold white men’s performance of power, toxic masculinity, and domination by performing weakness even when we are strong. How we are the legs that hold up white men’s boisterous voices. It made me sick to my stomach.
The display of unleashed disdain and privilege that followed with Kavanaugh’s outburst of anger and denial, just confirmed the rotten tastes in my mouth and expanded them.
Over the weekend, all I could think of was, how can I contribute to creating communities of white women who don’t uphold patriarchy? How can people who are hurt share it honestly? How do we not repeat patterns of domination towards others in our communities? How to create communities where women are free to express emotions, feelings, betrayals? How do we create strong, humane communities that are not the exception, but the norm for all human beings?
Whether these questions are new for you or you’ve been asking them for decades, here is where we can begin (or continue) to work:
- Give up being “nice.”
- Rock the boat.
- Question the term “professional.”
- Give yourself permission to get what you need, even without someone else’s permission.
- Don’t question your truth.
- Be all of who you are.
- If you’re sad, be sad.
- Trust your body, take care of the emotions it stores.
- Feel your feelings.
- Learn to be yourself without dominating someone else.
- Look for other ways you may be upholding white patriarchy.
- Choose not to uphold white patriarchy.
- Build community with other white women.
- Quit criticizing women who do 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. And 13
- Teach your young women and girls to do steps 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 14. and 15
- Teach your boys and young men to appreciate the honesty and courage of women who choose to do 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. And 16.
As for how triggered most people are around the Kavanaugh hearing and everything that has followed, trauma can be gift, too. So. Under 7. Feel your feelings, also means acknowledge the trigger and get the help you may need.
For a more in-depth exploration of this topic:
It’s crucial we do this work, to build collective spaces we uphold vision, Because the Vision Our Country Needs is up to Us Common Folk (Rita Sinorita Fierro).
How our bypassing sadness upholds domination: Bypassing the White Spiritual Bypass
On the role of white spiritual liberation (Kelly Germaine):
Rita Sinorita Fierro, Ph.D. Has been studying institutional racism for 25 years. Her forthcoming book — Give Me Back My child: How the USA System Kidnaps Children is about how different systems perpetuate injustice on families of color. You can read more of her writing and her social approach to trauma at www.DrRitaWrites.com and www.DrRitaWrites.com/blog. You can read more on her Inclusive Conversations series and her Evaluation and Facilitation work at www.ritafierro.com/blog.
|Rita Sinorita Fierro
Intellectual Artist. Author. Speaker. Avid Social Justice Inspirer.