In my community, girls are warned against putting their faces and names up on Facebook. Because they have been conditioned to think that someone will use their personal information or distort their images as a highly toxic form of sexualized ridicule – to shame her or even to blackmail her.
And if that happens, it´s automatically her fault – for who asked her to show her face in a public domain? How dare she? All over the world, we see this levied against women who occupy a public space. Especially if they are seen as powerful, threatening-to-the-status-quo and confident.
It´s always a political statement, and very rarely linked to the woman or girl herself-as-a-being. And if the woman herself is a public or political figure – doubly so. It´s never about who she is, but what she represents.
We are still conditioned to associate shame with female sexuality and so that is why it is still used as a weapon. We are still conditioned to be silent (for a variety of reasons) when things like this happen.
And really, we shouldn´t be.
For those of you who aren´t familiar with the context – over the past 3 weeks, I have been subjected to continuous sexual and emotional harassment. It´s not just silly commentary on Facebook, but people who have watched my physical movements, have made physical threats and tried to lure me to meet them in person – and now – most recently – have begun to post nude photographs of random women claiming that it´s me – especially on posts where I talk about my social work and of family.
In my case, my would-be-attackers are not just going after me as a person, but what I represent to my community. Not only are they trying to shame me sexually – which personally I don´t feel so much about because it´s .. ludicrous – but the´re trying to re-write the legacy that my father and I have been building. Now that …. brings out my trident.
My father single-handedly inspired an entire generation. He was (and still is) a pioneer and path-maker in so many different ways. Thousands of families were touched by his single-minded focus to the empowerment of a politically, socially and economically marginalized community. Wherever we go, someone comes up to my father and thanks him for the awareness he brought to the people and the many lives he changed.
And I am his daughter. Whilst I don´t claim to have done anything on that scale (so far, at least), my contribution to my society has been through my accelerated academic achievements, lecturing to kids and their parents on ways to understand the brain and help their kids do what I did, in my PhD (when, how, why it was done) and now – in the spiritual and vocal path I am making for myself. And believe me, it is public.
What I notice about these people is that they´re specifically trying to re-write my biography and dismissing anything and everything we have done to distort it into the worst thing they can imagine. And I´m certainly not the first woman to go through it, nor shall I (by any stretch of the imagination) be the last.
All of this comes at a time where I am raising powerful social critiques and that I can safely say no one has dared to raise.This attack came just as I was heading for a televised Tamil-language debate watched by millions – in which I did exactly just that.
So how do I handle it?
(1) I know it´s not personal, in the usual sense of the term. I lick my wounds where I have to and get going. And you will see the occasional rant.
(2) I am working on compassion, release and forgiveness. Whatever this dynamic is, it´s playing out for a reason that is bigger than the personal-Self. Part of that involves Faith.
(3) I seek justice. Not as revenge, but as justice. At a personal level, I can´t afford to get caught up in the toxicity of this energy. At a more meta space, that´s exactly what I have to do. Forgiving someone does not mean that they stop being accountable for what they did. It means that you are no longer emotionally hooked in a toxic way.
My life is seen by many in my community – whether I know them or not personally. And for better or worse, it shows a path. What I do counts. That applies to us all, in my case it´s a little more hypervisible.
I used to think it came down to petty jealousy (which at the personal level – is probably what motivates those who seek to blame,shame and distort the images of public, powerful, political women). And then my eyes opened to the bigger picture.
It´s really not about me as a person. And it´s not about them as people either. But something much larger.
It´s coming from the work that I´m doing. Which is still the Law of Attraction, but in a more sophisticated way than the usual – it´s your negativity and drama reflected back at you. Which is the New-Age equivalent of absolving the need for action and redirecting blame.
I have absolutely no regrets in what I have done and will do, nor would I backtrack.
When someone stands in their power and speaks the uncomfortable truth, their energetic field changes. On the one hand, for some, they become a focal point of inspiration – and for others – they become a target.
When these kinds of attacks happen, the target gets blamed and ridiculed – especially when her work in the world pushes through a certain threshold of awareness.
But that is – still – a part of the work. Not something to borne, swept under the carpet or ignored. But energy to transmute through conscious, public engagement.
And in my case, that means communicating a very clear message to my attackers – and the larger energetic dynamics these puppets are dancing to the tune to.
And that message is simple.
I´ve only just begun my dance,
On this world as a stage,
And in many others.
As the eyes burn with Soul´s song,
And the feet trample what must be no longer be borne,
So too shall the stars, one day, whisper my name.
In other words – Get out of my way, whilst you still can.
I´ve only just begun.
** Clarification on title. Sexually shaming, putting down or trying to berate anyone is a bad idea. Trying to do so to a woman who can fight back is even worse (for the energy that tries, that is).