Vivian Baxter* shares some of her own experiences and insights about power games.
It’s hard to know where to start unraveling the events of these last weeks. I have seen both women and men from all over the world unite for a cause. And of course, there has been dissent to this. As an Australian, as a woman and—most importantly—as a member of the human race, I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished so far.
There are so many worthy causes that sometimes it can be overwhelming to affect change. For me, this was personal. And I found myself reacting to the furor with one purpose: to do whatever I could to make this stop.
What struck me most about Julien Blanc’s social media presence was not his ‘instructional’ YouTube videos, nor his ‘witty’ Facebook memes (most of which have now been removed). It was this image posted from his Twitter account:
I said this was personal. And it is. Because I experienced many of these things in what was supposed to be a loving relationship.
Much of the rhetoric does not begin to discuss power and control—and it should. Because, as the image displays, these are at the centre of everything that disempowers someone.
Nor do we discuss the reasons behind abuse of power and control. After my abusive relationship ended, I read ‘Power Games: Confronting Hurtful Behaviour and Transforming Our Own’ by Kay Douglas and Kim McGregor. It was incredibly confronting, but deconstructing my relationship was the only way I could make sense of what had happened and why, the role I played and how I could heal.
Power games often consist of a confusing barrage of activities and accusations that defy logic and leave the other person feeling bewildered. The more bewildered, the less powerful. As the image so helpfully shows us.
In my opinion this actually stems from a feeling of powerlessness. I know it seems odd, but follow the logic: someone who is happy within themselves, who has a healthy understanding of their own personal power has no need to abuse it by robbing another person of theirs.
Another essential ingredient is resilience. This is the will to thrive—not just survive—in the face of adversity. In real terms this means being able to handle the disappointments of life without the need for power games, petty revenges or violence.
Of course it makes total sense to the conscientious. The peace-keepers, problem-solvers and care-takes of the world are easy targets. Their natural disposition and possible social conditioning means they will try even harder to compromise, reason, sacrifice, take responsibility and make things right.
I tried all of these….but there is no reasoning with someone who is unreasonable. Eventually I learned that the only way to win when you’re engaged in a power-game is to leave.
Even then I was harassed, belittled and publicly shamed. And, because it is possible that this article would induce more of that, I am writing this under an assumed name.
#TakeDownJulienBlanc is an issue of misogyny which is now wrapped up in a debate about free speech. This is nothing new; abuse of power is, and always has been, about removing the ‘voice’ of those who are being marginalised, especially when those voices begin to challenge the status quo.
We need to keep speaking out against Julien Blanc and others like him who hide behind free speech to oppress others. Even while this name may not be my own, this is still my voice. And I will fight hard to keep that, because it is only when I am silenced that I have truly lost.
*Vivian Baxter is a pseudonym.
Photo: Sinistra Ecologia Libertà/Flickr