Note: I briefly mention sexual trauma, and I focus on the feelings that the topic might bring. Check in with yourself before reading.

Background: In this post, I’m trying to provide a space for us to work with the feelings that Caitlin Moran’s latest story might bring up for us. You can read more about it here.

Super Caveat: This post is not about politics. It’s about “personal” stuff. I’m practicing using the Widdershins method and separating between the “personal” and the “political”.
This post is about you and me, and how we feel around something Caitlin Moran said. But it’s not about Moran or what she said. It’s about how we feel about what she said. That is, I’m talking about my emotions and your emotions. About our “stuff”, our own emotional baggage.
No politics. No Feminism. No “men”, no “society”, no “culture”. That’s all for other posts.

If you choose to read this, you may find your feelings being described here. It’s my hope that this will help you acknowledge them, so that it can help you heal.
But if you are not ready to interact with the feelings that the Moran Story brings up for you, you may not want to read this. Check in with yourself first.

First: We do a “check in”

Kinda weird to do it online, but let’s try anyway.

The point is to check with yourself and find out what’s going on for you. What is this Moran Story bringing up for you?

For me, this is what’s coming up:

  • Jealousy: “Argh, once again we are discussing what a Famous Feminist has said. And not, for instance, what *I* am saying.”
  • Annoyance & boredom: “Are we really talking about this stuff again? Are we ever going to move the debate forward by focusing on more radical stuff? By which I mean, are we ever going to discuss “my” ideas, which are radical and fabulous?” (Yep, jealousy again. This one is sticky) “Once again we get into a fit about some silly thing someone has said instead of giving attention to radically transformative stuff. Like, what I’m talking about”
  • More anger: “She knows less stuff than me and she’s more famous. Damn”
  • Control, comfort, security: this one is very subtle, but it’s there. I can *sense* that, though Moran’s comment was pants, there is some “comfort” in the idea of adopting a set of behaviours to avoid bad things. Because I want to be safe. And I feel I’m doing the right things to keep myself safe.

What this might be bringing up for you…

The Control thing… It is big.

If you agree with her…

You may feel that you need to “cling” on to her words as being “right” and “necessary”, because a part of you needs to know you’re in control of your destiny. So you may be feeling protective towards her comment. You may feel that your behaviour is validated by Moran’s suggestion because you are doing what she says, and so you feel in control of your destiny.
If you have somehow avoided an unpleasant experience, then you probably feel that Moran’s words are “right”. We all want to feel in control of our destiny, and you may feel that you need to be certain that a set of behaviours is going to keep you safe.

If you disagree with her…

You may feel that you are not in control, because you ultimately know that what she’s suggesting doesn’t really “work”. There’s a part of you who feels that her suggestions are not going to “work”. And perhaps you feel that social change is the only thing that will work to guarantee your safety.
You may be panicking because you know all the facts, and that therefore there is “nothing” you can do. So you may feel unsafe and that you are not in control of your destiny.

I’m sorry. This is a horrible feeling to have.

If you’ve experienced some kind of trauma…

Her comments will, in all likelihood, be bringing up all sorts of past stuff.
Some part of you may be interpreting her words to mean “you could have avoided what happened to you, if only you had been more careful”. So this part of you is saying this to you and making you feel really bad. Feelings you may be experiencing: Helplessness, sadness, anger, guilt. The whole “you brought this upon you because you did X and didn’t do Y”.

I’m so, so sorry you are feeling this way. It sucks, it really, really does. And I hope my words are not bringing up yet more stuff and making you feel worse.

So. What do we do now that we have acknowledged the feelings?

We let them be there.

Yup. We say to ourselves:

It’s ok to feel what I feel. It’s completely legitimate. It does not make me a “bad” person, or a “broken” person, or any kind of person.
Even though I wish I didn’t have this feeling, I’m allowed to have it.
I’m noticing how I feel, noticing my pain, my anger, my sadness, my guilt, my jealousy; I’m interacting with my feelings, and that’s huge.
I’m on a path to healing, and the first step is always to notice the feelings. That’s what I’m doing now.

We are listening and validating those parts of ourselves which are hurting. That’s the first step! Our hurt selves want to be seen, they want to be noticed!
And once we know they are there we can (try to) hold them, accept them, and, eventually, love them.

And now… we check in again

How are you feeling? What do you notice about yourself right now?
Are you frustrated? Angry? Sad? Are you furious at me because I’m not addressing the Feminist side of the Moran Story? Are you desperate to find someone arguing that Moran is wrongity wrong wrong? (I sometimes feel that way)

All feelings are accepted here. It’s ok. We’re human and we feel things.

Comment Zen…
This approach to talking about political issues is… unorthodox. To say the least.

Here’s what I’d like in the comments:
Your experience with this approach. What did you notice? How does the whole “noticing what you’re feeling” thing bring up for you?

Here’s what I’d rather not have:
Any discussion about the “political” side of this story. I know it’s important. I’m a Feminist, after all. But this is not the space to do it.


Louise M · December 18, 2012 at 10:30

This was a really helpful bit of the conversation. Sometimes the anger and the politics stops us from just having a safe space to FEEL, and support each other in that.

I feel angry at her comments and almost betrayed because I absolutely did feel she was saying “you could have avoided this if you did x.” I think it is hurtful because it’s like on some level I believe she may be right, even if I logically also feel like she’s not. I believe both things simultaneously. I do beat myself up every day for being vulnerable in a situation where I ended up being raped.

Blame is not useful, I can do that for myself. I go to feminist spaces for support. That’s why it’s helpful.

However I also find it hard to blame Moran for her words. I am angry that I live in a world where people believe this. I don’t think it’s her fault she believes it when so many people do. And like you say it makes people feel safe. That is very hard to let go of.

Mary Tracy · December 18, 2012 at 13:10

Oh, Louise… I’m so, so sorry. Sending you so much support right now.

Let me see if I can give you this really complex spiritual teaching in a way that makes sense.

You say you believe both things simultaneously. This is a perfectly normal experience. I believe this is what’s going on.

The part of you who’s saying “you could have avoided this”… it’s a “monster”. That is, it’s a part of you that’s telling you something painful in order to keep you safe. Your subconscious created it in order to keep you safe. It sounds paradoxical, that you would say something painful to yourself in order to keep you safe, but that’s how monsters work.

Safe from what? From painful feelings. Because sometimes what hurts is realising that there’s nothing we could have done to avoid bad things happening to us. It’s a horrible, scary, painful realisation, which is why sometimes we’d rather tell ourselves “you could have avoided it, you know”. And of course, the problem with this thought, is that if we could have avoided it… then why didn’t we? If we follow this train of thought to its logical conclusion, we are left with even more horrible things like “I could have avoided it but didn’t, because… ” and there’s no way you can end this sentence in anything that is not painful.

So what do we do? Well, we thank this monster “thought” for being there and for trying to protect us by keeping us believing that we are in control of our destiny.

If you want to take this practice further, this is a great place to start:

One of the biggest spiritual teachings, like, ever, is precisely realising that we are never in control. But getting to accept this takes years and years of practice, and we can only do it little by little. (Here’s an interview by bell hooks of Pema Chodron talking about this stuff,

Like you said, blame is never useful. Blaming yourself is not useful. Blaming Moran for clinging to the idea that she has control over whether bad things happen to her or not, is not useful either.
She’s human, after all, and we all need to feel safe in some way.

I hope this helps. x

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