by Kanta Bosniak
It didn’t start with the revelations about Weinstein. It just looked that way to people who weren’t paying attention. In January, 2017, over two and a half million people participated in the Women’s Marches in Washington, across the country, and in thirty-two other countries.
Women and men demonstrated that a deep shift is occurring not only in politics but in gender relations, both interpersonal and intrapersonal. Habitual thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs are shifting, along with behaviors.
A large part of this has to do with the way we regard anger. The time has come when the old paradigm no longer works. Men being forced to suppress their natural inclinations toward empathy and personal integrity. Being encouraged to express aggression and to objectify and dominate women… or risk male-on-male rejection, shaming, or sexual and physical violence.
Women being compelled to politely put up with being demeaned, belittled, and dominated in dating, family, and work relationships with men or face firing, shaming, or sexual and physical violence.
There is no question that the old paradigm pressure to conform to the hyper-masculine model harmed men. While it gave them access to wealth and power, it invalidated their connections to intuition, creativity, and real human intimacy. In extreme instances of the pressure to conform and suppress the authentic self, boys may grow up creating a false persona, which conceals a twisted and distorted personality, separated from the heart, conscience, or spiritual self.
Over a period of several years, I researched the phenomenon of a certain archetype I call “Mr. Malicious.” I’m a mind/body/spirit writer, not a psychologist, but my archetypal character roughly relates to the term some therapists use, malignant narcissist. Think narcissist and sociopath in a blender. Someone without empathy, who enjoys exerting control over others, derives pleasure from causing others shame, sadness, and despair, and to whatever extent possible, destroying their lives.
Typically, this type of man likes to present himself as hyper-masculine. Whether or not he is actually interested in women, he will act as a Lothario, much sought after by women, whom in reality, he hates. Sex for him, is really about control, conquest, and domination. He has something to prove, and he can never prove it, because self-esteem cannot be acquired by harming others and the love he can neither give nor accept cannot be commandeered. Feeling empty inside, he projects his shame on others.
This is the type of man the old paradigm holds in high esteem and the old boy network protects. In business, politics, social situations, and at home, he abuses his power. He is the judge who gives a wife-beater or child abuser a slap on the hand or an acquittal. He is the semi-illiterate bully boy whose brother’s connection with an admissions officer and family wealth gets him into an Ivy League college.
Groups of Misters Malicious can look like a frat party where a girl gets raped while others cheer. Or ultra-conservative American Taliban-like “Christian” cults who sanctify misogyny and child abuse by grooming little girls to be married off as young teenagers to much older men. Or an administration that tries to remove reproductive rights and perpetuates unequal pay for women.
That most women have had an experience with a Mr. Malicious was evidenced by #metoo statements going viral. Women who have had to endure living with culturally enforced misogyny were pushed past the point of being willing to accept the unacceptable. To cope, enable, stuff their outrage, and manage to be “nice,” in all circumstances.
Women have been learning to stop reframing a relationship with an abusive man as being a strong woman supporting a wounded man in his (mythical) healing process, as if he is the victim and she is the better person for her tolerance of his bad behavior. And they’re also done with reframing cultural abuse of women in relativistic terms. They don’t want the “progress” of less bad. They want justice now.
Instead, what they got last year was worse. A lot worse. In the microcosm, an individual malicious man gets more controlling and meaner to his partner over time, if she stays with him. In the macrocosm, so does malignant patriarchy, if it is continued to be enthusiastically supported by men still stuck in rage against women and enabling women fearful to take a stand, ashamed to be heard, or in the soul deadening numbness of denial. The abuse of power is a progressive condition, like alcoholism. So is the self-abuse of polite martyrdom.
Last November, something had to give. For many women, first, there was shock, then a month or so of crying. Then came the anger that shook them loose from their ladylike coma. By the time the allegations about Weinstein, Ratner, Spacey, Moore et al came out, the shift had already occurred. It just became more obviously apparent.
The genie is out of the bottle, it isn’t going back, and its dynamic energy has whooshed us forward. We’re in a new time now and only the most unconscious among us don’t know it. Many in the lightworker community have been expecting a pole shift. Metaphorically speaking, it has occurred.
In the screenplay form, the emotional climax precedes the action climax. Most among us can see and feel in a very visceral way that the first has occurred and the second is unfolding. The shift in how we conduct ourselves in terms of what is deemed acceptable and what is not has already been set in motion. We need to begin thinking differently about women’s anger. The Dalai Lama once said, “The world will be saved by the Western woman” and women’s anger was the key to this shift.
This anger has an entirely different quality than the frozen, stuck rage of the Mr. Malicious archetype. It is righteous anger, like the anger of Jesus knocking over the money- changers’ tables. Like the anger of a mother when someone threatens to hurt her children. It’s healthy anger and it provided women release from reframing prison.
Women witnessed an admitted sexual assaulter, a man who bragged about sexual assault on Access Hollywood. Who extolled the pleasure of preying on troubled teenage girls on Howard Stern. Who regularly denigrated women in the crudest of terms…
…get elected President.
This shook them free of the constraints to play nice. They realized they didn’t have to play nice because they are nice and nice people can get angry. They gave themselves permission to get angry individually, in groups, and as a movement.
One surprising thing that characterizes this type of anger shared by women of courage and men of goodwill is that it is very different from the anger of the Mr. Malicious archetype. These woman and men have joy in their lives. They have the ability to call up the inner warrior when it’s appropriate and put him down when it isn’t. They use their anger productively, as it was meant to be used: as energy for positive change.
Erwin Schrödinger wrote, “There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind.”
As I see it, we are healing the collective mind. And a major part of that healing has to do with a healthier regard for women’s anger and a de-stigmatization of men’s empathy. We need the full measure of our combined energy and talent to take good care of the planet that supports our lives and the lives of our children.
About the author:
Kanta Bosniak is an artist, writer, and minister. Her numerous mind/body/spirit publications include her most recent book, Bye, Bye, Mr. Malicious!: How to Get Your Happy Back and Be Done with Narcissists and Sociopaths. For more information, visit KantaBosniak.com.