This is a topic that I have often raised, yet I have found few who would engage with me on it. “They’re mad as hell” is the title of the New York Times article. And it makes so much sense to me.
Have women changed over the years? Are they suddenly more sensitive to the predatory advances of misogynistic men? Are they suddenly more liberated to speak out? Do we have more radical feminists amongst us? Why is it that women, for the first time in history, are taking such a public stand against men who abuse them?
That is not the only intrigue for me. What really is of critical interest to me is what happened to the millions of women who did not find a voice? The ones who were at the receiving end of years and years of bullying, sexual, emotional, physical. The ones who were never brave enough to speak out, who were beholden to the patriarchy, who had to keep quiet because they were disempowered? Can it be that many of them “are mad as hell?”
Madness is not a term that I would ever use. Being mad – as in being extremely angry – I even find difficult to use as a metaphor. We all know how women were labelled through history first as witches, then hysterical (given frontal lobotomies) and then as hormonal. I have a theory that the abuse that so many women suffered for many culminated in dementia, which not too long ago would have been classified as”madness”. Too many women were silent for too long, ending up paying the price in their last years when the disconnect has become pathological. The hurt, anger, resentment, humiliation, heartbreak, suffering just became too much. A broken heart can have the most devastating consequences on the Mind. Let alone abuse, abortions, miscarriages that were never aired in a therapeutic environment.
I also believe that it is never too late to start a therapeutic process of healing, contradictory as this may sound to some after my previous post. Thanks to the neuroplasticity of the brain we can develop new neurological pathways, neurolinguistic programming can create new narratives, empowering us to rewrite our own story, adding new chapters and healing characters. It is never too late to at least start some healing in loving relationships and supportive environments.
I have seen too many women living with dementia (many not diagnosed, but labelled as such) who I instinctively knew from the moment we met that there is an untold story behind their gaze. I have seen it in their touching me, I felt it in the way some of them melted into my bear hugs, sensed it in their glance as I walk away, that there is an untold Tolstoyian novel of grief and sadness locked up, a storm, torrid waves of anxiety and pain that fuels their state of being-in-the-world. And whatever it is, that something drove them to where “they’re mad as hell”.
We need to start giving a voice to those silenced women who stoically kept a stiff upper lip and got on with things. We need to encourage our Mothers and Grandmothers to find expression, to shout, to demand to be heard and seen. It is time.