Engaging the Feminine in Collective Transformation

Wrecking Ball – Shaming Mommies

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Blamed for Complicity & Shaming Mommies

Finally – and this is where it gets particularly painful – the Active Feminine woman is accused, by other women, of complicity with and even promotion of sexual exploitation – and this is where Sinead O’Connor comes in (who, as a young woman, I loved, loved, loved – especially as an Active Feminine role model).

I’m not normally the least bit interested in celebrity gossip – but the archetypal patterns of this one sucked me right in. If this isn’t a conflagration you followed, check out the pieces of it in the sidebar.

The Pseudo-Maternal Response

(Self-repression in the Active Feminine, projected onto others)

With love and respect for Sinead, and deep compassion for the wounds alluded to in her open letters to Miley – Sinead’s response perfectly models the pattern of a profoundly conflicted Active Feminine woman who has been so burnt in her own Active Feminine tenure that she has erected a repressive and shadowy Stable Feminine shell in an effort to protect herself from further wounding.

I mean, let’s not be naive here – the witch and the whore archetypes have been our culture’s scapegoats, prey, pariahs, sport, collateral and casualties for at least the past two thousand years – these are not scratches we’re talking about, and self-protection, however twisty, is crucial.

Eventually, too wounded to honor our own Active Feminine aspects and struggling to manage ourselves differently in a hostile world, many of us equate our own Active Feminine elements as youthful folly, concluding that maturity and safety require repression. We blame ourselves and try to be something we’re not, and we can’t stand to see other women repeating our mistakes. We certainly can’t bear to see them not be punished for it – why should they get to keep their souls when we could not?

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Here are pieces of the conflagration that amplified the archetypal patterns:

Sinead O’Connor Open Letter to Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus calls Sinead crazy – sort of

Amanda Palmer’s Open Letter to Sinead O’Connor

Melissa Bradshaw Piece

Sinead goes from shaming to attack

Things escalate

Sinead redirects her anger

Sinead tatoos her face with ex-boyfriend’s initials

Sinead talks about suicide & harrassment

I just want to say, I don’t usually visit the sites linked to above. But once the flames died down, Sinead took down her open letters from her website (and in fact, it’s still sporadically unavailable anyway) and these are where the traces remain.

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In this instance, O’Connor herself overtly constellates the Mother Archetype in saying (in letter #1) that she writes to Cyrus with ‘motherliness and love’.

As Kate Norris observes (in reply to Sinead’s Miley-momming) “Motherliness and love, the two words we use just before we shame someone. We think that if we say something we are doing is done out of “good intentions” that what we are about to say is justified. America, we are not Miley’s mother and I do not believe mother’s (or parents) have the right to shame their children anyway.”

After donning the motherliness cloak, O’Connor launches into a full-fleged controlling-mother shame attack, accusing Cyrus of allowing herself to be ‘pimped’ by the music industry and of ‘prostituting’ herself, of only valuing her sexuality and teaching young woman there’s only one way to ‘be cool’.

It was clearly so much more about her own past painful experience than anything real in the present day, and expressed with enough vitriol that even I momentarily got triggered.

The two then engage in a predictable stereotypical pattern: a bitch war between a controlling mother and a transgressing daughter, with the daughter getting more flippant and distant while the mother gets ever more strident and threatening. (See sidebar above)

It was painful to observe.

In fact, that repressive maternal condescending shaming response was so powerful, especially coming from a once-active-feminine-icon of mine, that it almost shut ME up. In the face of all that stuff my own triggers got tickled and I nearly backed down from writing anything about it, fearing I’d be throwing my own self under the bus – again. In fact, I felt ashamed for even wanting to write about the video at all. Like all my own insight must, inherently, be warped.

Voices of Reason

Next Amanda Palmer wrote a lovely letter back to O’Connor, gently saying where she disagreed. And Melissa Bradshaw wrote a piece articulating how the perpetuation of the attack on women is actually wrapped up in that so-called maternal protectiveness. I won’t repeat their well-written arguments here. But both helped my own triggered transgressive-young-woman to calm down, reconnect to my own adulthood and recognize the patterns for what they are – the intense collective backlash energy against the emerging Active Feminine. Because the threat she represents to the status quo is so great that even we who carry her feel tired and traumatized and eventually even we just want some safety and stability. We who are worn out by her react the most intensely.

True Maternal Response

Women who are naturally Stable Feminine women can be just as repressive – but with less vitriol and more condescension.

I can sympathize with the horror of watching of women choose to be fodder for exploitative sleeze-balls. That’s an unfortunate side-effect. But we need to remember – the Active Feminine’s compulsion to push toward Finley’s catharsis, ipso facto, will be leveraged and capitalized upon by the very shadow forces she is trying to bring consciousness to. It cannot be helped – it’s inherent in the dynamics. We cannot bring greater consciousness to this mess without pushback – and in this instance, ‘pushback’ includes slime-buckets profiting from the gesture.

But this is not a boundary that can be pushed by the Stable Feminine – her approach will never work, because ‘reunion after separation’ just isn’t her role (and reunion is the only cure for this). The mother approach inherently tries to push everyone back into childhood – and none of these players are going to oblige. And the daughter archetype is implicitly not having any of that reunion crap. We have to go through this mess, and explore what creates the need to exploit the Active Feminine in the first place. Which actually implicates the split-off mother archetype, and she won’t allow for that.

In any transformation, back-lash is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we back down. The motherly archetypal reaction is understandable, but dangerous. The Active Feminine does not respond to shaming and control efforts. The only thing that maternal behavior does is to push the fledging Active Feminine woman further into the clutches of the Priapic sleezeballs. No doubt the sleaze-balls love it when the mommies lash out, they know it will push a fresh crop of babes into their arms (note – Terry Richardson, the video’s director, seems to have gotten an increase in starlet availability from the uproar).

This young woman is trying to break out of constraints, and the shaming maternal response cedes any supporting role to the scum-bag. If you actually care about an Active Feminine woman, the very last thing you should do is try to pull rank.

When We Active Feminine Women Help Reinforce The Problem

In any case, a couple days later Sinead backed down from the fight, and seems to be returning to her own more characteristic Active Feminine behavior and raging at the machine instead of shaming little girls. We all have our momentary flare-ups. But then she turned up with her ex-boyfriend’s initials tattoo’d on her facial cheeks. What kind of role modelling is that for young women?

I’m not blaming Sinead here – we’ve all been there and the whole thing makes us seriously crazy. I’m highlighting the patterns, and the inner conflict, and the wacko inconsistencies we fall into. And feeling the pain of them, for all of us.

We Active Feminine women need to be aware of when our own internal conflicts make us channel all that backlash energy and turn on our own sisters and daughters ‘in fear for them’. Because when other women shame an Active Feminine woman (especially ones she feels a resonance with), she either rejects the whole group and goes off on her own, into dangerous territory (been there, done that!), or her soul gets crushed, the cycle is repeated, and whatever transformational capacity she’d begun to develop gets hidden far away. She can no longer help shed light on a group’s blockages, and no longer has the capacity to stir things up and bring in some fresh air. She becomes a big part of the problem – too busy wallowing in the swirls of her own self-shaming to be of use to anyone.

I hate when I see that happening – it makes me want to break things.


2 Responses to Wrecking Ball – Shaming Mommies

  1. Who else? Precisely here? I don't know.

    Mostly this comes from my own experience & guts & observation, but:

    Marion Woodman does transformational feminine stuff, but mostly re: deep soul-work, not group-work.

    Susan Griffin does eco-feminism, which has overlaps (and she wrote a lovely book – The Book of the Courtesans: a catalogue of their virtues – which I found healing & moved forward my own reframing project.)

    Barbara Black-Koltuv's 'Book of Lilith' and Nancy Qualls-Corbett's "The Sacred Prostitute' (both Jungians) informed my thinking way back when. Both are explorations/articulations of the Active Feminine – which originally shows up in Toni Woolff and in Anne Ulanov (early Jungian women).

    Then the whole Senge, Wheatley, Scharmer, Block, Bohm, etc. etc. universe always sits in my head, juxtaposed to the feminine stuff above.

    And last – throw in David Deida, who writes about sexuality & spirituality – he's all about intimate relationships, but I watch group-work through his very useful lens also. And then there's Hillman – of course – in his own category of lens-making.

    If you find others in the same neighborhood, please post them!

  2. Wow Christine, lovely writing and thinking. You have given me some solid meat to chew on relative to the Miley/Sinead encounters. I think you are spot on!


    Who else out there is working on this stuff?

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