I read a news story this week about dozens of children sex trafficked at an auto show in Detroit. I read about a young man getting no jail time for sexually assaulting a six year old girl… sex traffickers targeting and grooming girls through internet apps for children… white women still earn $0.80 for every dollar men earn, and women of color even less… the Supreme Court may kill Roe v. Wade this week… five women executed in a bank, and the media ignored it… many men used the government shutdown to coerce (rape) poor, desperate mothers into trading sex for money or food… yet another gunman shot his ex-girlfriend and four other people…
There’s plenty more bad news. We live in a collapsing, apocalyptic dystopian misogynistic nightmare. Misogynist violence floods to us in a toxic deluge from billboards, magazines, movies, TV shows, ads, games, and most interactions with family, friends, and our culture.
How do we survive in this holocaust? How do we keep sane? How do we protect that which we hold most dear?
As a professional Peacebuilder, I know well how violence begets violence. Our culture continually promotes the false narrative that one more war will bring peace, one more fight will end the fighting. People sometimes misunderstand archetypes and assume the idea of a “Warrior archetype” has something to do with this myth of redemptive violence. It has certainly been misused that way, just as the Nurturer archetype has been misused to mean smothering a child/partner and not letting h/er have healthy boundaries or independence. Similarly, the Seeker archetype can be distorted such that people look down their noses in smug superiority. Every archetype can be misused by the ego to perpetrate violence.
The beauty of archetypes (which were developed by Spielrein, not Jung – he raped her and stole her ideas, passing them off as his own) – is their mythic ability to guide us beyond our flawed human manifestations of them, similar to Plato’s Ideal Forms. So do not be confused by distortions of Warrior archetype, common in a misogynist patriarchal culture. You who know that patriarchy defines feminists as rabidly insane man-hating homewreckers ought to know not to accept what patriarchy hands us as “truth.”
In times such as these, we need courage to persist, nevertheless, even when the going gets tough. We need to be brave in the face of suffering. We need to move beyond our fears and join our voices in liberative strength. We need to speak and march and act for and with vulnerable ones who are oppressed, downtrodden, and silenced.
We also need the Warrior archetype to help us move beyond the fears that drive our egos, so we can speak and act from a place of virtue rather than self-gratification. For example, see Dan Millman (The Peaceful Warrior), the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa (Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior), and Prof. Robert Thurman.
As Kiersten Marek tells children, “The Warrior is acting in us when we feel a deep need to make things right.”
Let’s find some examples! Quotes and stories of strong Warrior archetypes can give us a boost when our courage flags:
When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid, that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave.
— Lupytha Hermin
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.
— Maya Angelou
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
— Audre Lorde
Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.
You know, house-elves get a very raw deal! It’s slavery, that’s what it is! That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he’s got her bewitched so she can’t even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?
Poe, get your head out of your cockpit. There are things you cannot solve by jumping in your X-wing and blowing something up. I need you to learn that.
— General Leia Organa
Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.
With one sweep of my arm, I push her behind me.
“I volunteer!” I gasp. “I volunteer as tribute!”
I know how to run without you holding my hand.
I did my job. Despite your best efforts and your incompetence, I succeeded where you failed.
Yeah, right. How were you supposed to know? Fucking men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you’re so creative. You don’t know what it’s like to really create something. to create a life. To feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction.
Guts. Grit. Perseverance. Climate scientists such as Kate Marvel have lost hope. They are now telling us that Courage is all we have left:
I have no hope that these changes can be reversed. We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together. The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.
We need courage, not hope. Grief, after all, is the cost of being alive. We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending… But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see.
Sisters, it is time to Woman up. Forget toxic masculinity. Forget patriarchal ideas of glorified violence. We need much stronger Warriors than that. We need #OvariesOfSteel. We need smart, strategic, gutsy, fierce Ecofeminists…. like you.
Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. Previously a fellow at the Institute of Culture, Religion, and World Affairs and at the Earhart Foundation, Grenfell-Muir has conducted field research in situations of ongoing conflict in Syria, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland. Her dissertation explores the methodology, constraints, and effectiveness of clergy peacebuilders in Northern Ireland. She has been an invited speaker in community settings and at MIT, Boston University, Tufts, and Boston College on topics of gender violence, economic injustice, and religious or ethnic conflicts and has also moderated panels on genetic engineering, cloning, and other bioethics issues. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.