Thursday, 8 April 2021

Kindness is political III

Kindness is political III



Kindness is small. Kindness makes us human. Kindness is ancient. Kindness makes us humane.  Kindness is big.  Humane is a thing. Humane is the biggest thing. We cannot be fully human if we are not humane. We use the word Humanity. "Show some Humanity!" 

And yet there are those who think Humanity is the problem.  'Humanity is destroying the environment' they will say. Whereas the truth is that it is a particular culture that is destroying the environment, rather than Humanity per se. I have written about this before. The species is fine, it is the culture that is the problem. There's too many people, claims Johnson and his father Stanley, and that is the problem. They are fine with the extractive, exploitive, predatory culture that they represent. The culture is not the problem, as they see things. Both are noted for their lack of kindness, among other things.

Kindness is bigger than Gross Domestic Product as a measure of human success. Gross National Happiness makes more sense to me, as a humane being.. Kindness is more, so much more than National Pride. Kindness is older than any religious creed. Kindness is more beautiful than sending a rocket to Mars. Kindness makes us human. Kindness is prehistoric. Kindness is in our evolved genetic and behavioural disposition. Our default state is trust.

Jacinda Ardern is kind. Kindness is real human strength.




Kindness is political.

Boris Johnson is unkind. Here is speaks, in Greenwich, February 3rd 2020, aware already that a global pandemic is underway.

"And in that context, we are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other."

Note that Johnson makes no reference to human harms, death and damage from severe disease.

"And here in Greenwich in the first week of February 2020, I can tell you in all humility that the UK is ready for that role.

We are ready for the great multi-dimensional game of chess in which we engage in more than one negotiation at once and we are limbering up to use nerves and muscles and instincts that this country has not had to use for half a century."


He underlined that part of the speech. " I can tell you in all humility " He prefers international chess play to caring for the people. And 14 months later, the harms he said he would have avoided, he did not.

He rushed us all headlong into those harms - and he has not had the courage, the gumption to put his hand up, to stop the train wreck, to do the right thing.

He is a weakling, a petty bully pimped up by high office.  He is not alone. The Cabinet and Party are with him, all the way. They prefer their power to the welfare of the people 'they serve' - so unkindly.

Boris Alexander Johnson is unkind, even as he wishes public debate to be 'kind and civil'.  What kind of man is he?

Boris Johnson Tackles children.


Watch as he leans into the child, hanging on to his prize. He cannot control himself.

Boris Johnson Tackles Adults.


Watch as he chooses to bend down and head butt the other player, then pretends it was an accident.

Johnson betrayed his wife, and mother of four of his children, while she suffers from cancer, by conducting a 4 year affair with a young American woman. How unkind is that? How cruel and callous, how utterly selfish! And then in addition there is the corruption. Channelling hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers money to his younger lovers ill fated and repetitively faulty business ideas. How kind of him! What a waste of tax payers money! 

Kindness is political.  

Obama was charming. His political action was unkind. Not much of a difference, really, if you were one of the many innocent people harmed by US Foreign and Domestic Policy during his 8 year stint as President and Chief of Staff. Poverty expanded, Drone Warfare and War in Syria and Libya expanded, as did the wealth of billionaires, under his 'leadership'.


Bullies twist arms, bullies with charms.

Kindness never hides behind a flag, a uniform, a monument or a temple the way patriarchy rooted power and cruelty does. Boris Johnson is unkind. Cressida Dick is unkind. Kindness is political.

Evolution and Kindness.

In terms of our long evolution as a co-operative animal, a social species, one of the key elements in the development of the social brain and all the social complexity, diversity and beauty that flows from that is the shift from the single parenting typical of most primates, to what we call alloparenting. 


Sarah Blaffer Hrdy - Anthropologist, Primatologist, Authord of 'Mothers and Others'

That is to say that the evolution of our bigger brains dealing with more complex relationships over longer time frames is inextricable from the evolution of shared parenting, multiple bonded relationships, among hominids. Kindness again. Group kindness is a thrivivalist behaviour. One needs a much more complex brain to live well through shared mutually nurturant relationships as a social group, a social species. Kindness is evolutionary!

Some would say that, politically, kindness has the potential to be revolutionary. Jacinda Ardern is revolutionary, it could be said - and not a guillotine or an AK47 in sight.

Thriving Children.

For all mammals and for all primates the mother is the primary carer of her children. There are some species that share the care, to varying degrees - the majority do not. 

In all species of primate the infant stays close to the mother for extended periods of time, physically close, attached, in touch, body to body. Mammalian and primate infants are vulnerable and they need that constant care and protection while they are growing. Human infants are among the most totally vulnerable, and our vulnerability lasts for a long time. 

Mothering is expensive.

Every mother knows how much resources, effort and time is needed to adequately care for, nurture and protect a baby, an infant, a toddler and a young child. It takes the meaning of full time job into the realm of 24/7/365. How many hours are there in a week? Parenting requires all of them. Some estimates value unpaid mother work at $10 trillion dollars annually.

We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labour as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labour and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fuelling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Kindness exploited is political.

Single parenting is so much more difficult than alloparenting. Still, single parenting is, within the existing industrial culture,  somewhat easier than partially shared parenting with a partner who is abusive, negligent, distant or disinterested. If only because such partners need caring for as well, and in effect the mother is caring for two - an infant and an immature adult, or worse a dysfunctional and possibly dangerous 'partner'. Stress levels way above any normal healthy background level. Those women who opt for single parenting deserve societal support as much as possible, and to be honest, a lot more is possible than is being provided for now. That needs to change.

Shared child care is evolutionary economics.

Egalitarian and peasant cultures of all kinds are rooted in extended families. Industrial culture has atomised the community, and the presence of extended family care is becoming rarer. Double and Single parenting is a lot more difficult than living with an extended family to share the care

For humans, in evolutionary terms, shared parenting is the bio-logical norm. Children are cared for and nurtured by the community. In egalitarian cultures this is a very well documented dynamic. The evidence base for this is immense. Egalitarian relationships are loving relationships. The children in egalitarian communities form deep bonds with many adults, as much as with each other. The community cares for and nurtures all the children. Children form many healthy attachments.

Attachment Theory

In looking at the relationships that are formed between mother and child in the 1960s, at a time when the nuclear family was very much the majority structure in industrialised cultures, some interested scientists carried out experiments with monkeys, where, unfortunately for the subjects, they mistreated baby monkeys to varying degrees  - by separating them from the mother, and then providing a range of fake mothers in the form of a structure (wire cage, wooden body, furry body, furry body that rocked, warm furry body that rocked and so on and a feeding method, a bottle with a teat) designed to mimic the presence of a mother.

What they found was that the baby monkeys would vary in their behaviour as sociable animals, with the least mothered presenting with the most anti-social behaviours.  The less warmth with which they were raised, the more defensive their behaviour, the weaker their self regulation, the greater their aggression. These awful experiments were not accurate, in as much as animals in zoos and laboratories are not going to present behaviour that they would do in the wild. Those experiments were de facto torture. Fortunately these experiments were not frequent, and not repeated.  That said animal experimentation is still a massive practice of unkindness.

It is a mark of this culture that in order to prove that something is toxic, or harmful that our scientists are driven to experiment with animals - when in fact there is no need to do so, when we know that most of the novel synthetic compounds being tested cannot be broken down by any known biological process, when in this case it is obvious that disruption to any infants relationship with the mother is going to cause problems for that child.

Nonetheless, those experiments and the consequences or 'evidence' of disruption of child-mother bonding formed the scientific germ of the idea of that became Attachment Theory.

The theory stated that the degree of  nurturance or disruption of child-mother bonding in infancy - that vulnerable stage - determined the sociability and adult behaviour of the adult to be. One aspect of the theory looked at the setting within which mothering occurs, and took note of external stressors that might impact attachment bonding. A stressed mother can undermine healthy attachment, through no personal fault of her own, simply because she has to endure stresses imposed by external events and actions of others.

Some portrayed this as 'blaming mothers' and used that as a distraction tactic, a way to trigger emotional reactions that led people to reject the ideas of attachment theory. 

Attachment Theory was lauded for a brief period, and then fell into relative obscurity, not least because some of it's proponents were suggesting that the troubles of civilisation are behavioural in origin - violence, hierarchies of power, war fare, misogyny, addiction - and have their roots in disrupted child-mother bonding. 

This was a bridge too far for the existing psychology and psychiatry industry. Such an assertion, without substantive evidence,  challenged the  establishment (and everyone else, truth be told) in ways that patriarchy minded authorities rejected, quite forcibly. It questioned their claims on certain universalities of Human Nature and The Human Condition. That was a challenge too far. Attachment theory questions the 'bad seed' world view of behaviour, the idea that some people are born evil. 

Attachment Theory 2.0

50 years on, and Attachment Theory has been subjected to and informed by a lot more detailed research. Neuroscience, endocrinology, developmental studies, bio-chemistry, trauma studies, anthropology and other scientific disciplines have gathered a lot of new evidence, using ever more precise technological developments, allowing better measurement, observation and statistical analysis. 

Science can describe with ever greater detail and intimacy the processes of brain development from within the womb, through birth and infancy, toddlerhood and onwards. Science can describe with great accuracy how experience and environmental factors have effects that are invisible, that happen beneath the skin and within the skull, yet which lead to outcomes in behaviours that are all too visible and easy to misconstrue. 

Current scientific understanding can describe the biology, the bio-chemistry of what is happening within the brain and the body during the development of the emotional self. 

https://www.developmentalscience.com/blog/2017/3/31/what-is-a-secure-attachmentand-why-doesnt-attachment-parenting-get-you-there

The Extended Family Brain

Allan Schore describes the biology of affective state self regulation within the context of the carer-brain to infant-brain relationship, and as body to body embodied minds relating to one another, as a dynamic of carer to cared-for, irrespective of gender or biological relationship.  Both brains are altered by the experience. Brains are designed to build through experience and as organs our brains are the least constrained by genetics.

“The brain is heavily influenced by genes. But from birth through young adulthood, the part of the human brain that most defines us (frontal cortex) is less a product of the genes with which you started life than of what life has thrown at you. 

Because it is the least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience. 

This must be so, to be the supremely complex social species that we are. Ironically, it seems that the genetic program of human brain development has evolved to, as much as possible, free the frontal cortext from genes.

Brian to Brain.

Whilst there are key dynamics between every mother and her infant child, the development of healthy self regulation is modulated by all carers and the more loving carers a child has, the better it is for that child and consequently the adult the child will become. In essence shared care is an evolutionary dynamic that has altered our brains and our behaviour, for the better, and it underpins our co-operative, egalitarian nature.

Extend that across a population and we can suggest a way to prevent distress emerging in future populations by nurturing the earliest relationships that extended families can provide.  Kindness in policy is indeed political.

What is now well established is that the development of affective state emotional self regulation is key to sociability and to competence in learning, and that it is, in healthy conditions, a matter of right brain maturation which is largely complete by age two.

That bears repeating - affective state self regulation is largely matured by age two, in all healthy human children and it is entirely dependent upon the quality of the relationship and interactions of all the adults or carers in that child's life.

The 'terrible twos' is a cultural symptom of distress, not a biological marker.

As I understand it, this is when the infant becomes a walker, and is capable of independent exploration of the new world she or he is in, and the last thing the new explorer needs is a shortened fuse. The care and kindness that earliest empathic parenting is delivered with sets the child up for life and equips the child with affective state self regulation that is necessary for adult life. Beliefs about innate behaviour need to be challenged, especially when they inform public policy discussions.

"“The brain is heavily influenced by genes. But from birth through young adulthood, the part of the human brain that most defines us (frontal cortex) is less a product of the genes with which you started life than of what life has thrown at you. 

Because it is the least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience. 

This must be so, to be the supremely complex social species that we are. Ironically, it seems that the genetic program of human brain development has evolved to, as much as possible, free the frontal cortex from genes.”

― Robert M. Sapolsky, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Families and culture.

In a typical human extended family, child care is shared. That is the norm for all studied egalitarian cultures. That is also the norm in most older pre-industrial sedentary cultures. In peasant families, siblings care for younger sibling;, babies and infants are held by mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grand parents. This care is typically loving, replete with those little kindnesses that inform life long bonds of friendship and support. 

The Nuclear Family and The Factory

In the development of the Industrial Factory and the creation of a worker culture The Protestant Calvinist Religious ideology - the work ethic - was used as a tool of social engineering, and it was deployed to reshape entire communities, to integrate the nuclear family as a universal human characteristic. Christianity does not speak of the relatives of Jesus. The model of the nuclear family suited the factory owners. 

In addition because contraception was not used, serial pregnancies were normal outcomes, infant mortality was high, and child care was shared by siblings, aunts and grandparents, and so they all lived within easy reach. This helped build resilient factory system communities out of the destruction of the older peasant communities. The men went to work, and the women collectively cared for the children and the men.

General schools for the workers children were invented to indoctrinate successive generations, and to train future factory workers. Personal development was deliberately ignored as a subject worthy of the educators efforts. Workers children need not study the classics, or Law or philosophy, or the Arts.

Poverty is a structure.

Poverty was and remains a standard status for a large part of the population within inequitable hierarchy of power social systems, as is the concentration of wealth and power in a smaller class who dominate all others. The children born into either do not chose that situation. We call this accident of birth.

. The existence of poverty is unkind, it is a structural and cultural unkindness. It absolutely imposes chronic stress on the families of the poor. The life expectancy of the poorer is always shorter than those of the wealthier.  The impact of structural unkindness is meaningful. Thus social solidarity and kindness among impoverished people's and their families is a matter of survival and provides some of the resilience necessary for survival. In the large families typical of impoverished people's child care is to a degree shared by siblings

Nannies and others.

In wealthier families child care is often handed to employed nannies and tutors.  Being too busy being rich and powerful to parent, they devolve care for their children to others. Private boarding schools are an expression of class. Nannies are an expression of power. The devolved authoritarian who must deliver the well rounded adolescent who will inherit the dynastic mantle.

In wealthy industrialised countries, where the nuclear family is common, where the tradition of men as bread winners rooted is in the factory system, the bulk of the work of caring falls upon the mother - this is true even in households where both parents are workers earning a wage. In those households, child care is farmed out. And we see the outcome of that in the greater incidence of anxiety and distress among every class within industrialised cultures. A population that is overworked, underpaid, that is working to build economies and working to service debt and neglecting the familial nurturing space is profoundly impacted.  Kindness needs people, kindness needs time and space. Kindness is large brained. Unkindness is small minded.

Kindness is political. 

Right now, as the pandemic of SARSCOV2 and it's disease CODIV19 rolls out across the Earth's countries,  we are seeing the impact of lack of kindness across the developed world, were some nations have rejected zero community transmission strategies for dealing with an epidemic, with intolerable human costs and associated economic costs, all of which is met with continued denial of shared responsibility. That is unkind. That is an institutionalised lack of kindness at scale.

Other countries have adopted zero community transmission, and have avoided all the costs and harms, and that represents a form of institutional kindness. Indeed, Jacinda Ardern is explicit about this, and has been since before her first election into office as New Zealand's Prime Minister.

Kindness is political. Callous disregard is also political.

If we want a healthier future for all our children, and for all their children, then we had better start acting with political kindness in mind at every part of our culture. The bullying is lethal, the bullying is toxic nonsense and in evolutionary terms utterly, utterly irrational. We must bring it to an end, with kindness as our primary ethic.




Kindest regards 

Corneilius 

"Do what you love, it is your gift to universe."

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Sexual Abuse, Power and Men - young girls, women, grandmothers: generations of affliction and endurance, the time for change is now.


I have been writing about abuse behaviour dynamics for two decades, from the perspective of a Survivor, a child, a young boy and a teen routinely abused by adults in boarding schools, as an adult suffering from and enduring cPTSD, understanding that my story is one of millions upon millions of cases, and looking carefully and honestly at the culture within which all that happened. First let me start by making it really clear where I am coming from. I am appalled to my core that there is so much abuse, violence, corruption on-going in within this culture. That so much of it is for profit and to maintain Power over others makes matters ever worse - it is deliberate abuse, choices to cause harm. Honesty is the only way to work through all of this. A violent culture.

As a man, a male, a person and a parent I am appalled at the willingness of governments, corporations and others to extract power and profit at the expense of so many others. War, Air Pollution, Environmental Degradations, Externalised Costs, Imposed Poverty and concentration of wealth as Power, competing to dominate all others, are all costs we all are forced to bear - and they are all wholly avoidable. There is nothing inevitable about these problems. Together they speak to a culture that is a problem in and of itself, and to me that calls for the need for an holistic and honest analysis that addresses the problems at their very root. I have written about that elsewhere in a number of postings. I make it very clear that whilst the culture is abusive, our human nature is not. Most of us are decent people, doing our best with what this culture throws in our way. For now let's talk about Misogyny. When it comes to sexuality and power, I am horrified by the status quo. I am a human being with an acute sense of sexuality, and as I see it, as I experience sexuality to introduce or inject power into such an intimate space, to taint pleasure with power in any way is an abomination, akin to child beating.

Any abuse of power to sexually harass another - irrespective of gender- is a dehumanised behaviour, and it is a dehumanising behaviour.
And it has a long history of being part of the Ruling belief systems. Misogyny is a historical thread woven into every known hierarchy of power system............................................
So it is more, so much more than a matter of personal flawed bad attitude.
Establishment 'Feminism': if you are willing operate power as we do, then join in, be our equal. This is the meaning of 'equality'. Bullying is a protected species.
Genuine Feminists : we will dismantle the Hierarchies of Violence and Power, together. This is the meaning of Equity. Liberation. 
Two opposing movements. 
Anyone who says that there's no problem at the cultural level regarding sexual abuse is in denial. Every woman I know has multiple stories to tell of personal experience of sexual harassment, misogyny. There are more survivors dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse than there are abusers facing the consequences in terms of confronting them with their behaviour, justice and incarceration and, by a vast margin. The majority of abusers walk free. Society is failing the survivors, and is failing in prevention. The abusers thrive as a result.

The Guardian headline and report is inadequate. 'Finally'? School girls and young women have been voicing their concerns for decades and decades. When one submits "sexual harassment in schools" as a google scholar search term, it brings up 204,000 plus articles and papers in half a second. It's not like the subject is an unknown area. It is remarkably well studied. From a 1994 paper 'Walking Through Walls' J Larkin - Gender and Education, 1994 - Taylor & Francis "For most females, crude language and other forms of sexually harassing behaviour are part of the fabric of our daily lives. To date, however, our focus on sexual harassment has been limited primarily to the experiences of adult women in academic and work place settings. What has not been explored is the prevalence of sexual harassment in schools and the way it interferes with young women's education.

Equal opportunity programmes are of limited use if, for example, we urge female students into traditional male courses but we neglect to consider the hostile climate they encounter there. In this study I explored young women's experiences of sexual harassment in the setting lauded as their gateway to opportunity: school. 

Based on their testimonies I make recommendations for educators who are committed to making high school a more equitable place for female students." 

A search on JSTOR using the term ""sexual harassment" brings up 29,085 results. Papers on this subject date from the 1970s. Women and their advocates have been speaking out for many decades. A lot of study has been carried out on this. 

The first American Rape Crisis Centers were formed in several states throughout the USA in the early 1970s, largely by women associated with the 
second-wave feminist movement. Central to second-wave feminism was the practice of consciousness raising, which allowed groups of women to speak openly about their experiences with sexual violence and the shortcomings of law enforcement, health care providers, and the criminal justice system to effectively and constructively respond to survivors.

In every country that has efficient data gathering and statistics, we see many, many sexual crimes perpetrated against women, men and children. The majority of the perpetrators are men. The majority of those victimised are women and children, and we know too that some women also abuse men and children, that there are some women who participate in the abuse with men, and on their own. This is a culture wide issue.  A culture that harbours so much abuse.

#metoo

The phrase "Me Too" was initially used in this context on social media in 2006, on Myspace, by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke. Since then there have been successive waves of #metoo attention. The waves pass, the behaviour does not change. The systems of Education, health, policing and justice do not change substantively. Why? Here's the thing - I know that the culture I was born into is rooted, historically, psychologically and materially in hierarchies of violence and power, patriarchy and property. Women as property.  I did not create this culture, and I do not wish to perpetuate it. At all. The idea of perpetuating this pre-existing culture of hierarchy, power and violence appals me to my very core.

The '
stronger' prey upon the vulnerable. 

I use the parentheses because as I see things, to leverage power over another human being for personal gain is not a marker of strength of character - to abuse leveraged power of any kind is in fact a weakness of character. It is a dehumanised thing to dehumanise another.

It is also a matter of self regulating one's behaviour, or not. There is interesting research that indicates that stressy cultures undermine healthy self regulation at the earliest ages - the terrible twos is not a biological episode, it is a chronic stress or trauma episode.

If in any given culture the situation of motherhood is subjected to multiple external stressors, then what flows from that is disruption and distortion of key experiential and learning dynamics. Across a population that can lead to a variation in self regulation capabilities.

The kind of people who engage in leveraging power over others clearly lack that ability - healthy self regulation of affective states -  or it may be that they choose to neglect it. Either way they are damaged, dysfunctional, distorted. Men who claim the 'urge' overtook them are saying they lack self regulation skills. They are damaged. They need help. Where any person, many or woman, has caused harm, he or she has chosen to act and for that, and the outcome, must be held accountable. At the same time, we now that patterns of reaction, of trigger and reaction operate faster than the mind can think. Some people are out of control.

Out of Control controlling behavioural characterist
ics.

Those who dominate and operate institutional power systems for personal gain lack the moral strength of mature healthy adults. To exploit others is both immature and inhumane. To rationalise abuse of power as if it were a 'natural' evolutionary alpha male behaviour is projection. It's an example of non-thinking. 
This society, this culture, this power system and its institutions are clearly not listening. The News Media is reporting, but it is not really listening. Survivors voices and insights are rarely given the space they deserve. Governments and Education Authorities are not listening carefully enough. Religions are not mute, they are not listening for or hearing the cries of women.

Men (I am a man) are not listening, are we? We are not hearing and we are not understanding the fullness of this story. We are downplaying the pain all around us by allowing 'not all men' to gain traction in ways that distract from the hearing that is necessary. My response to 'not all men' is "we know this! So shhssssh, listen, try to hear and understand what the women are trying to communicate!" Distraction Some people will point at women whose behaviour plays into or enables misogynistic behaviour and say 'it's not only men' - look at those women!' They will also point out that women are abusers too. Which is deliberately missing the point. The point is that no girl or woman should ever need to learn that set of behaviours as a way of coping with or surviving life long misogyny and sexism. At least not within a healthy culture. This is not a healthy culture, is it?

The point is that no boy or man should ever need to learn that set of behaviours as a way of being, or of coping with or surviving within a healthy culture. For these reasons, this is a problem of men, and the behaviour that we (I write as a man) allow our peers to get away with inevitably becomes a problem for women, children and all vulnerable people. Misogyny is political. Men as activists I get that this is challenging, and I am not seeking to scapegoat or blame. It is confronting to confront anyone who is bullying another person. It is confronting to challenge 'alpha male behaviour' that men are led to adopt and internalise as 'normal red blooded', competitive, hierarchic archetypes. It's scary.
It is a different kind of scary to that of a woman who feels she must be on guard amongst most men. Throughout her life. The 'democracy of fear'. Men, healthy, decent, morally clear men need to become the drivers of confronting sexual assault of women. Men, healthy, decent, morally clear men need to become the drivers of confronting alpha male violence in general. Speaking truthfully. In June 2020, Soma Sara the founder of Everyone's Invited, began sharing her personal experience of rape culture via Instagram. She wanted to speak the truth, and to create a space for truth to be spoken. Immediately, she received a number of messages from not only those who felt that her experiences strongly resonated with their own, but also those who detailed their own stories of misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault. Within a week she received and shared over 300 anonymous responses, reaching over 10,000 people. She was intent on creating a space where women felt safe enough to speak, where they were assured they would be heard and understood - they shared the same experience, after all. 2021

The disappearance, abduction and murder of Sarah Everard, in early March 2021 in London followed by the discovery that her murderer was a serving police officer who had committed a sexual offence just days before he assaulted and kill Sarah Everard, became a major news story. It led to a surge of expressions of grief, rage and anger shared by many, many women. It led to a public campaign to hold Vigils for Sarah, organised by women's group, Reclaim These Streets, as a collective mark of respect and a dedication to confronting the issue of women's safety. Since then Everyone's Invited has received thousands of testimonies from women and young girls.

It was as if yet another flood gate was opened. By the time this too became a news story, (see the image at the top of this article) more than 11,000 people had submitted testimonies to EI. No individuals were identified, and some schools were. Some News media reports focused on a few fee paying schools identified in these testimonies, although EI says that totality of testimonies received covers all kinds of schools and universities, private and state funded. This behaviour - sexual harassment, assault and a culture of misogyny - is happening in every setting where boys and girls, men and women share a common space. Soma Sara points out that some of the testimonies are from women writing as grand parents who themselves were subjected to such behaviour, who saw their daughters and then their grand daughters endure it too. The problem is multi-generational. My position is this is a cultural problem larger than a subculture called 'rape culture': it is a problem of the larger culture and it is for the larger culture to confront, honestly. EI is seeking to encourage a non-judgemental open and honest discussion and bring to public awareness the scope and nature of misogynistic sexual harassment in order to generate positive moves across the main culture - their approach is not about crime and punishment, naming and shaming as much as it is about achieving behavioural change. Prevention is key here. Punishment is always too late for those who have been harmed punishment of offenders does not undo that harm caused.

Can we get to a place where no more women are being harassed and sexually assaulted? - That is the question they are posing. Meaningful and lasting change can only be achieved through honesty, through recognising the problem of sexual violence, through understanding the many ways in which misogyny manifests, through understanding it's roots in wider culture and through direct action amongst men and women of all ages, in schools and universities, at home and elsewhere to confront, challenge, reduce and in due course eliminate this behavioural dynamic of sexualised abuse of power from all our lives. It is not healthy, it is not 'natural' and it must cease. Education EI believes this is a matter for education, education, education. A good education opens both mind and heart, and develops the focused mind informed by a strengthened heart. A good education is a process of discovery and learning. A good education is not indoctrination.
Education through conversation between young boys as peers and young men as peers talking to each other. Education by parents, by schools, by universities, news media and all other relevant layers of society participating in shifting the cultural behavioural values away from leveraging power and control towards participation and co-operation.

The children of the 21st Century cry out for a humanising ethic, for real social material change to end this dynamic behaviour of abuse.

It is not a pleasant state to be an abusive person. Everyone involved in the sexual abuse dynamic suffers. Everyone is dehumanised by this behaviour. To be the kind of person that sexually harasses another is a dehumanised state of being. It's not good. This is not being judgemental. It is being factual.

There is a profound compassion in the ethical stance of Everyone's Invited.
Here Soma Sara speaks on the issue with a reporter from the London Standard.



Power

In order to understand the role of power in sexual harassment, we do need to consider the level of power, the sources of power, the context of the harassing situation, and the reactions of those subjected to sexual harassment and to what extent their relative power position in society determines what outcomes are deemed possible, what actions are deemed viable, what outcomes are delivered.

Does lack of power influence a persons choices to report and prosecute cases of bullying, sexual harassment or rape?

When some media claimed that the Rotherham Grooming Gang was able to escape investigation due to fears that such an investigation might appear racist, was that the case? Or was it that in general, the witness testimony of the groomed and the vulnerable, the distressed and the broken is treated with less respect and consideration than it should be, across under resourced, under trained, under staffed police forces nationally?  

The victimised young girls are way down the power ladder, at the very bottom. Those young girls were, and are, in practical terms totally powerless. It was not concerns about Race that dismissed their their need. They were deemed not important enough to warrant the kind of attention they needed. They were considered unworthy. 

Narrative, Optics, Stories

Who turned what should have been a story about criminal organised child abuse as a cultural problem of England, into a story about Race, Immigration and Nativism?

Who did not immediately rebut that false narrative of distraction with available evidence that shows the the vast majority of 'grooming gangs' exploiting minors for sexual abuse are Caucasian, that indeed the prevalence of such abuse reflects the demographic realities?  How could such an obvious misrepresentation have stood in the news media for so long, unchallenged?

What did that do for the girls who were victimised? Who was thinking of those young people in all of this? How much more powerless were these young women rendered by this misrepresentation? Media was talking about Race and not about the lives of these young girls. 

The truth is that criminal grooming is common, far too common, across this society. It other words it is a cultural or societal behavioural problem at every level of this culture, such that it is almost characteristic. we cannot afford to look away from this.

Who has the power to exercise such systemic reluctance to address this problem honestly, and why would they do that? 

Power, Protest and Abuse

Power and the right to protest were yet again highlighted in the statements, directions and interactions of Priti Patel, Cressida Dick, The London Metropolitan Police and the Reclaim These Streets women's group who wanted to host a vigil on Clapham Common for Sarah Everard - as I already mentioned - a young woman abducted and murdered by a serving police officer in March, in London.  

In truth the fact that the man was a police officer is besides the point - sexual predators and murderers abide in every profession. That said, the tragic and catastrophic irony of a women's safety put at risk by a man paid to 'protect the peace' is inescapable. It certainly led to more concern and focus among women aware already that the justice system is not very good at delivering justice in regards to sexual harassment and rape cases.

Therefore a public vigil, an act of mourning, grief and respect, made a lot of sense and that is what RTS called for, as representatives of women's voice, as a public ritual and a demand for justice.

This includes the voice of men too, all those men who are listening to and hearing the women, who understand the cultural dynamic, who also demand we approach this matter with justice and prevention in mind.

Official Stance is defensive

"Reclaim These Streets is organised by a group of women who wanted to channel the collective grief, outrage and sadness in our community over the events of the past week. Our plan was to hold a short gathering on Clapham Common, centred around a minute of silence to remember Sarah Everard and all women lost to violence. In light of the lack of constructive engagement from the Metropolitan Police, we were forced to cancel this event."

That the official police response to the desire of the RTS women to hold a vigil was oppositional is a measure of an institutional inability to hear, and an unwillingness to listen to and empathise with women's sense of this that speaks to their insecurity as being understandable. The police have done nothing to secure women's concerns. Quite the opposite.

The High Court Judges asserted that COVID19 legislation could not be used to ban protest, even as the Police tried to misuse the legislation. The police withdrew from the court case to avoid a ruling forcing them to accept the right of RTS to protest thus legally placing the Police in a position where they had to facilitate the vigil. 

Following on from the court case, the Police denied support for the vigil, because they could not ban it. 

They chose to not facilitate a covid secure vigil, out of spite, and following the orders of the Home Secretary.

The Police asked RTS to use all their publicity channels to call off the vigil. RTS did so.

RTS informed the police that they could not prevent people from gathering informally. The police clearly understood this. 

Priti Patel as Home Secretary,  a coward and a bully.

Priti Patel ordered the Police to break up the informal vigil, partly on the basis that she promised the Police she would deliver a public briefing instructing the public not to attend an informal vigil, to give the police the cover to take action to break-up the vigil. She did not do that, and left the order in place. People gathered, in much larger numbers than would have had the police worked with RTS.

I call Priti Patel a coward because she did not follow through with her promise, and because  she refused to acknowledge her own bad behaviour,  an act of personal cowardice which led to a £340,000 out of court settlement. She used tax payers funds to save face, in a very dehumanised manner. Not being able to put your hand up, when you have done wrong, is moral cowardice, it is the triumph of a damaged, abusive ego. It is a sign of weakness, not of strength.

A Respectful Vigil

The vigil was very well self organised, respectful, disciplined. The women gathered expresses their grief, their anger and sorrow, their outrage. The women spoke of the need for justice, the need for change. Candles, flowers, prayers, songs, silences. Women holding space for public emotion, public feeling, public solidarity when in the middle of an epidemic we are all more isolated, de-publicised than ever. A precious moment in time.

The Police waited until darkness had fallen, and then removed some of the vigil holders from the bandstand where some women were speaking from - using 'reasonable force' and thus providing a media story that did them no favours at all.

The response of the women at the vigil was disciplined. A riot did not break out. Police violence was not meet with escalation. The women maintained their dignity as indignity was laid upon them. The women showed true strength. They stood their ground, and stood as witnesses to the women who were being forcibly removed.

All of this, when one of their own, a serving officer, had abducted and murdered an innocent woman, having previously flashed at a female employee in late February. 

The insensitivity is breath taking.

Power and the right to protest were also at the heart of the Bristol sit-down protests against the Crime and Policing Bill that is going through Parliament, a proposed legislation that criminalises protests of single individuals, that uses vague noise and nuisance clauses to give police the discretion to arrest and charge protesters on whim, a piece of legislation that criminalises sleeping in a vehicle over night which is aimed at Traveller folk,  a bill that is acknowledged to be a direct attempt to pre-empt protest against the policies of a Climate and Environmentally reckless Government, and pushing this through in the midst of an epidemic that the same government is deliberately mismanaging with lethal consequences.

Power and honesty (the lack of it) were also highlighted by the release this week of the Sewel Report on Racism in England which claimed there is no evidence of institutional Racism in England, and that where there is Racism prevalent in the population. The report claimed that other factors, such as economic deprivation, family breakdown and geography were more important factors in discrimination as it occurs in England. This is gaslighting - this is trying to convince us that the evidence of our own experience, what we have seen with our own eyes, is not real.

Rape Culture is a dynamic within a larger culture of abuse of power, gross dishonesty, imposed hierarchy, state violence, patriarchy, misogyny, maintained through political grooming and manipulative persuasion. I think it is not possible to separate the two themes.

Power, Honesty, Justice

Everyone's Invited and #metoo, and the thousands of organisations of women globally are asking us all to do the right thing. The women who are speaking out, who are speaking truth to power, are asking us to be honest about this, to do the right thing. The school girls who are 'finally finding their voices' are asking us all to do the right thing. Stop it. It's not complicated. You do have the power to stop this behaviour. Just do it.

Honesty is speaking truth to power, justice is power changing as a result.

I think that unless the two meet, and are reconciled, then we will be caught in the crossfire of what I can only describe as a toxic cult. 

Just do it

I think that social change can be achieved when the majority of the population are united in understanding, action and solidarity to confront, challenge and dismantle these behavioural structures and dynamics, the systems and methods of maintaining power and control. Sexual harassment and abuse is all about power and control. It is not about sexuality.

I think that means we must understand those structures accurately.

I think that means we must understand what we have internalised as values given to us by those structures.

I think that means we must understand how the structures influence so many people and thus enable the behavioural dynamic of control to mitigate and ultimately ignore the voices of women who speak out.

I think that  means we must find ways to build bridges of human understanding across our different groups, identities, beliefs and positions so that  those internalised values no longer impede us. 

I think that at the very least just being consistently honest, decent, kind, loving humane beings is enough of a challenge under the current circumstances, and worthy in its own right. That's where we start with this.

From there, activism can flow.

That is what Everyone's Invited presents. An end to the war, a start to and continuation of the conversation that heals the behaviour. That is what #metoo really means.

That is what Soma Sara and many others represent.

We have had enough, already.

I think.








Kindest regards 
 
Corneilius 

"Do what you love, it is your gift to universe."