I’ve been on the road with my thumb out a few times, and although it left me with stories to tell, it also left scars on my abilityto trust. Now I always pick up girls hitchhiking.
By her very blonde hair, her travelling bag, and her somewhat lost but sturdy demeanour, I quickly assumed she was from overseas. She tentatively moved towards the car window, and although she easily established that I was safe and going in the right direction, (if only for a few kms), she seemed nervous, ungrounded, as she slowly got in. In six minutes she felt safe enough and desperate enough to tell me everything with her clear Australian voice and her wounded body language. The 20 year old had just come back from a ‘not too fun time in Sydney’, “I don’t think it’s right that just because I have blonde hair and large breasts that I should get harassed. I mean I already dress daggy, but now I’m going to start dressing more like a dag.”
Her responses to experiences of sexual harassment are far too common: Hide. Go underground. Shame. Put a paper bag over my head, deny myself my dignity and natural beauty, exit the body, slouch, fear men, or wish I was one instead of a woman. Simply put: Oppression.
When she got out of the car there was a moment of mutual sadness, I knew she needed help, I was in a hurry, and her story was larger than her words. She said she had a counselling appointment scheduled. “Please seek support”, I urged, “and speak up!” Speak out. Our stories need to be heard for our healing. And then we move on, Scar Clan, wiser, stronger, shining our torch in the shadows. But never at the expense of our dignity and beauty.
photo: Jeannette Gregori
One of my most adored authors, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in Women Who Run with the Wolves defines Scar Clan ‘…that timeless tribe of women of all colors, all nations, all languages, who down through the ages have lived through a great something, and yet who stood proud.
…But there is another aspect to mastery, and that is dealing with what can only be called women’s rage. The release of that rage is required. Once women remember the origin of their rage, they feel they may never stop grinding their teeth. Ironically, we also feel very anxious to disperse our rage, for it feels distressing and noxious. We wish to hurry up and do away with it. But repressing it will not work. It is like trying to put fire into a burlap bag’…