National Stalking Awareness Day 2013

stalking image

Stalking

 There is a growing problem across the world. It is one that can cause serious harm to both victims and society as a whole, and with the advancement of internet and mobile phone technology providing new and easier ways for stalkers to locate and track their victims; it is inevitable that it will continue to increase. The phenomenon is called STALKING. If you know anyone impacted by this you will know how all-consuming the effects are and how damaging they can be for victims and their broader family circles. In the run up to National Stalking Awareness Day (18th April 2013), I ask you to take a few moments to consider the increasing threat to individuals and society caused by Stalking.

 I would like to make it clear that I am by no means an expert on this subject and still at the beginning of my research. My aim is to get a discussion going and to encourage people to speak up about their experiences, bringing the topic under the spotlight and stimulating a debate. In this way I hope to improve my understanding and that of others.

 As I have documented on this blog in the past I think many women, despite huge advances in gender equality within the last half century, continue to adopt the position of “The Other” in their consciousness. Women have made considerable advances in today’s world yet still occupy a mindset which is a bi-product of hundreds and hundreds of years of conditioning and which is not easily transformed. This is in part because in our history we have played a supporting role to men in the context of a patriarchy. It is only in relatively recent years that we are beginning to have a public sense of self and are overtly developing our consciousness outside of our “family-centric” role. Does this mean that women are more vulnerable at being prayed upon by men, who see them as helpless and perceive them as victims? Having discussed this with several stalking victims, they stress that it has often been their strength (as perceived by their Stalker) and not their weakness that has attracted the Stalker in the first place. It is by no means a clear-cut case of the strong praying upon the weak. It is my opinion that all these issues need to be raised and aired in a forum for women. In this way women will be more able connect up to each other and link arms in sisterhood. I also want to try to better understand some of the shadowy areas innate to the current cultural patriarchy. I wish to inspire women to take steps on the perilous yet life-affirming journey into self-authorship of their lives. A journey out of victim status into agency.

 I have noticed one thing victims of stalking have in common is that they find it almost impossible to speak out about their situation and what is happening to them. It is as though they are consumed with guilt and shame: they feel as though they have brought this upon themselves and they feel ashamed about what has happened to them. In this way they become trapped in an insidious cycle. Victims tell us they feel isolated, frightened and lonely. Victims can create networks for themselves, thus feeling part of a web of support. They should be encouraged to speak out, to go to the police, to speak to their local MP and to surround themselves with people who will help to protect them.

 As a society we seem content to let the issue of Stalking fester away in the shadows. We seem happier to sweep it under the carpet and ignore the nightmares faced by victims of Stalking because unlike as is the case for victims of domestic physical abuse Stalking is an area that deals in shades of grey. You cannot see the scars left with the victim. As a result of this it is too easy to underestimate its seriousness and the devastating hold it can take on an individual’s life and by extension on society.

 It has long been recognised that current legislation is not satisfactory and offers next to no protection to victims. Politicians are beginning to realise that something has to change. On November 26th 2012 England and Wales enacted their new anti-stalking legislation heralding a zero approach to Stalking across the UK. The parliamentary inquiry heard that some 120,000 victims, mostly women, are stalked each year but only 53,000 incidents are recorded as crimes by police and only one in 50 of these reports leads to an offender being jailed.

 The key to protecting victims and alleviating the fear and harm is through everyone taking the issue seriously, through extensive awareness-raising and through improved and effective response to stalking by police officers, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and the health service.

 It is my intention to raise the profile of this phenomenon for the sake of a strong and beautiful woman I know, Amanda Regina Clark. Her life and spirit has been ravaged by this and she no longer feels empowered to help herself. At a time when she is scared and vulnerable she is refused help and protection by the Law and misunderstood by many of those around her.

 Hints from victims of Stalking

  • Sometimes people are ashamed when this happens to them – I would say that it is good to talk to people and share the experience – otherwise it becomes a conversation in your head between you and them – and this will send you mad.

  • Surround yourself with a strong support network of several individuals. If it appears to your Stalker that you are alone and without friends, you will be more easily targeted.

  • Take up self defence or a martial art. If you feel strong in your body, you will feel an increased sense of empowerment that will help enormously with building a strong sense of self (of paramount importance as a woman).

 Links

 http://www.stalkinghelpline.org

http://www.protectionagainststalking.org

http://www.nss.org.uk

http://www.scotlandagainststalking.com(Scotland)

http://www.digital-stalking.com(cyberstalking)

http://www.suzylamplugh.org(personal safety)

You are not alone. There are many people suffering in silence. Trust your intuitions.”

 A powerful quote by stalking victim and campaigner Ann Moulds who ran a passionate and brave campaign in Scotland and managed to ensure that stalking became recognised as a criminal offence in Scotland in 2010.

 Please get in touch with any comments/ links/ stories and let’s get a discussion going.

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Objects

Since carrying life, I have felt so much more able to override that empty sense of double conciousness: when you walk down a street and rate yourself by the number of affirmative glances you “achieve”. I have felt full and whole in myself. Something novel pour moi!

I feel more fully alive and human and less like an empty object.

This image was taken at a Mamas and Papas event when I was 5 months pregnant:

mama laurenne

As I am writing this entry, I am supposedly 1 week late according to the NHS. It is also my Grandma’s birthday, Elsie Bolton so I hope she comes today!

In my wonderful partner Donald Frederick Clark’s words: “The path of Pregnancy is akin to the hero’s journey”. I really feel that this is the case. It is not only an emotional rollercoaster but impacts the psyche, the body, the mind, the spirit, all facets of my humanity have been taken and shaken, challenged and uprooted. Relationships have evolved beyond recognition, plans thrown out of the window, belief systems altered and smashed! I am left at the end of it a better person: more resilient, more able to sort the wheat from the chaff, ready to face myself and my fears. I am ready to become a mother. And this incredible journey of 9 months in duration has brought me to this point.

God bless the tiny spirit inside of me with true beauty, wisdom, grace, intelligence and simplicity.

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New Arrival

Well since my last post, I have discovered I am going to be a Mama! Baby is due on the 9th July and if you believe the doctors, it will be a girl. I couldn’t intuit either way myself but the world seemed to know a girl was on the way. From day 1 of my pregnancy my best friends were telling me it would be a girl and most people I asked to guess, guessed pink. So far so good with the pregnancy, it’s been more tiring that I ever could have imagined, more stressful, more food dominated and more emotional but today marks 27 weeks and according to my Midwife this morning – all is well with my little angel, so I’m feeling on top of the world.

This is just a short post to get me back into the blog, so watch this space!

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Smiling to my Self

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Quote of the Month

“Girls are taught: your body is a project that needs work before you can attract others.
Boys are taught: your body is a tool to master the environment.”

Caroline Heldman

I think this is painfully true. That it is true is indisputable, women are viewed as sex objects end of story. In films, on the street, at the beginning of relationships, in the office. We are bombarded with images in magazines of conventionally attractive women. Yes the female form is beautiful! Why should this truth be painful? It is painful because it has become the main source of a woman’s sense of self. If she doesn’t look good to others and doesn’t receive external affirmation that she looks good to others, her identity is shot down to the ground, up in flames, her worst fears are realised. It is painful because a woman is too often numb to her own desires and own sense of self and identity that stretch beyond this need to please, this need to present to the world an image that serves a purpose. Beyond this image lies more often that not an unlived self that is too scared to emerge for fear of rejection. More often that not this self is extraordinarily beautiful and as teh true self it is the self that has to be liberated and lived out. That is what we should work towards emancipating.

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“The Other”

I am sitting here now contemplating the great and controversial figure of Simone de Beauvoir. If we all had the time and energy to read The Second Sex I believe women would be altogether more evolved, empowered and emancipated. I was reading  from the great oeuvre today and am compelled to share parts of it with you all now.

She draws on Aristotle’s quote that “the female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities”, that “we should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness”. She also brings in St Thomas’ statement that woman is to be considered an “imperfect man”, an “incidental being”. De Beauvoir goes on to say:

“Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being. Michelet writes: “Woman, the relative being…” And Benda is most positive in his Rapport d’Uriel: “The body of man makes sense in itself quite apart from that of woman, whereas the latter seems wanting in significance by itself… Man can think of himself without woman. She cannot think of herself without man.” And she is simply what man decrees; thus she is called “the sex”, by which is meant that she appears essentially to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex – absolute sex, no less. She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other. “

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Interviews with Emancipated Women

I was captivated by the flash of colourful strength in her eyes, the giving, joyful smile, the long, expressive hair, at once vibrant and defiant, the luminescent complexion, and most of all the power emanating from her when she walks – her hips! A body in liberation. No coy, shy, rehearsed submission – eyes down, small and helpless – oh no! In place of that a real spirit, a vigour, something new and hitherto unseen! No sign of immitation, of adhering to the magazine codes and dressing up rules, rather a creative individual who looks truly feminine to me. I was compelled to communicate to this wordly goddess and ask how it is she manages to embody her own power like this.

 

Una is an artist who currently works in an office as a finance specialist. She will soon leave her job in order to pursue a career on the international stage.

Laurenne: When do you feel powerful?

Una: When I come off the stage. At these moments I feel full of everything, as though I am at my greatest. I feel as though I am shining and I glow with satisfaction. I feel very happy and very powerful. Before I go out onto the stage I feel physically weak. It is the conquering of the fear and the exposure of all my emotions before the audience that brings me to the experience of my own power. I have been completely true to myself and what I feel in front of an audience of people, and I have tried not to care about judgement.

Laurenne: What do you physically feel?

Una: I feel a boost of energy that needs to be released. I feel completely present in the moment and all my senses are heightened, I feel highly aware. At that moment any need I experience with regard to my desire to be fulfilled by a man has disappeared. I feel whole, and I feel part of the world.

Laurenne: Are there any instances in day-to-day life where you experience a similar state?

Una: When I am on my bike I feel a similar sensation of being at one with myself and not having excessive mental noise. Things seem to clear and I can witness myself. I think in general I am most powerful when I am not caring, when I press the f***-it button! When I cease worrying about acceptance. I feel most empowered when I am not seeking external validation and when I am relaxed in myself, just being at one with who I am and with the world.

Laurenne: Are you able to say no to a man?

Una: Yes, but every time I have it has meant the end of the relationship.

Laurenne: Do you feel power specifically as a woman, and if so where does it reside?

Una: I feel a lot of power in my hips. My hips and the area around my hips are the part of my body I truly appreciate. The men I have been together with have also loved this part of my body, I really feel my femininity resides there. I feel very free and able to express myself when I move my hips and this is a big reason for my love of dance.

 Conclusion

From Una’s words it seems there is something about being creative that empowers her. When Una embraces the creative impulse and follows it through she achieves a sense of oneness with herself, moreover with the world. As women there is often a yearning for connection, for relationship, perhaps even a sense of isolation and a feeling of needing to merge into the other. Embracing the creative impulse provides a way of being at one with something greater than youself  through expressing yourself. You are alone, yet you are not alone.

We should be creating opportunities for the self, that deepest part of us, to experience itself i.e. finding a space in which we can express our own freedom. In this way we will be able to explore the mystery and magnificence of who we are.

If we find ourselves feeling incomplete or alone, isolated or dissatisfied this is the beginning of the process. This can be a platform, a launching pad to throw ourselves into throw ouselves wholeheartedly into something that takes us out of ourselves. This dissatisfaction is often the voice of something that is an impetus towards wanting to evolve/ wanting to be liberated/ wanting to engage more deeply with life.

There will be clues in your life right now as to how that can manifest in your life. Just start by asking yourselves where you feel specially fulfilled in your own life, where you feel your power resides and where you feel connected to something that lies beyond your own epxerience. When you experience this feeling of wholeness that Una feels post performance and when she is on her bike it is possible to come into an awareness that alienation is an illusion.

Thank you ladies,

Laurenne 

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Blissful Blogger

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A poem to embody

 

PHENOMENAL WOMAN
by Maya Angelou

 

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing of my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

from And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.

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Love is a creative essence. Love is divine. Love is active. Love is feminine.

The concept of femininity

 The Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann represents the German voice in the quest for answers to questions about feminine identity and the feminine voice amid what both she and Luce Irigaray, her French contemporary[1], see as a dominant male discourse. Through an analysis of the interplay between their distinct discourses, it is possible to tease out a precise definition of the feminine essence.

 Bachmann rigorously challenges the idea of a precise and absolute definition or expression of the essence of the self. In this context, she dissects the concept of a literary self and traces its authenticity as a reflection of a true essence of the self; she considers the validity of a literary or perhaps artificial expression of an author’s “true” self by analysing the correlation between a true self and a literary expression of this self. Bachmann springs from this pool of questions to a more particular reflection on femininity, and thereby raises critical questions concerning the essence and the expression of the feminine self. She reflects on how this particular self may find expression in a world perceived as dominantly patriarchal.

 Ingeborg Bachmann’s discussion of the self as manifested in poetry, and of the relationship between the actual essence of the self and its literary representation, is to be found in her lecture entitled ‘Das schreibende Ich[2]’. (The writing Self)

 Bachmann begins by questioning to what extent the self, “Ich” (Self), is a direct and true representation of the author’s essence “ohne Verstellung[3]” (without displacement), and concludes that a literary manifestation of this “ich” (self), is not necessarily a direct expression of the nature of the creator of a text. She refers to “die Interferenzen zwischen Autor und ich[4]” (the interferences between the author and the self), which are sometimes present, and states that on the other hand with some authors, there is no “Trennungsstrich[5]” (hyphen) between the author and “das schreibende Ich” (the writing Self). By illustrating the problematic, multifaceted nature of interpretation of the literary representation of the self, Bachmann reveals the multiplicity of the voices and hence the differentiated authority inherent in this self: “meine ich, dass es da viele Ich gibt und über Ich keine Einigung—als sollte es keine Einigung geben über den Menschen, sondern nur immer neue Entwürfe[6].” (I believe, there are many selves and no unification – therefore, there should be unification amongst humans, in place of that there should always be new designs)

 Bachmann highlights the significance of the assertion of this self in the process of human development. She perceives words, and literary or poetic assertion, to be paramount in the growth and progression of human evolution, particularly in the definition and affirmation of the self. She describes speaking in paradoxical terms as: “ein Schritt zum Schweigen, zum Ende des Wahns, des Wahns, sprechen zu müssen und es nicht zu können[7].” (a step towards silence, towards the end of the delusion, the delusion that we have to speak and cannot speak)

 In order to move forwards, one must assert the voice. She sees assertion as instrumental to humanity. Transposing this network of ideas onto the gender debate, Bachmann hints that the masculine essence is dominant, as it has asserted itself in the public domain. In contradistinction to this, the feminine essence is in effect non-existent, as it has been ignored and subdued to the gain of the vocal masculine. According to Bachmann’s discourse, in order for the feminine to be defined and hence in order to the feminine to come into being, she must be given the microphone: she must be represented and allowed to assert and articulate herself.

 She quotes Beckett’s Mahood in intimating the necessity and the ultimate authority of words, as well as their power to define and, moreover, to create: “man muss Worte sagen, solange es welche gibt, man muss sie sagen, bis sie mich finden, bis sie mir sagen[8].” (one has to speak words, as long as there are words, one has to speak them, until they find me, until they speak me)

 Throughout her writing, she demonstrates the ultimate authority of the “Ich”, which, although described as a fragile concept, is shown to be essential in any attempt to pinpoint, and more importantly to shape identity: “Es ist das Wunder des Ichs, dass es, wo immer es spricht, lebt; es kann nicht sterben[9]…” (It is the miracle of the Self that it lives, wherever it speaks, it cannot die)

 and equally:

 “Und wenn keiner ihm glaubt, und wenn es sich selbst nicht glaubt, man muss ihm glauben, es muss sich glauben, sowie es einsetzt, sowie es zu Wort kommt[10]…” (And when noone believes in the Self, and when it doesn’t believe in itself, one has to believe in it, it has to believe in itself, as it asserts itself, as it comes to speech)

 In relating these thoughts to the feminine discourse, we deduce that, for Bachmann, in order for women to be able to discover their essence, to tap into their true feminine potential, this feminine must assert herself: her essence must be represented and authorised. The way in which this may come about is through literary representations of the feminine self, which will then attain true autonomy and creativity.

 The literary assertion of the self is closely bound up with the idea of creating a self, or controlling such a self. Bachmann asserts: “Ich spreche, also ich bin[11].” (I speak, therefore I am)

 The assumption here is that the more the feminine is articulated, the more autonomy she will acquire. In order to achieve emancipation, the feminine must speak out. Vocalising her nature is seen as the first stage in assuming control over it, the first stage in creating or determining its existence. By asserting or by performing the feminine, an idea of the feminine is produced, and subsequently, something of the feminine is born, or created. According to Bachmann, this will bring about a feminisation of the human “Ich” (Self), which is perceived by Bachmann to be the “Platzhalter der menschlichen Stimme[12]”. (the placeholder of the human voice)


[1] The period in question is the early 1970s.

[2] Bachmann, Frankfurter Vorlesungen.

[3] Bachmann, ‘Das schreibende Ich’, 219.

[4] Ibid., 220.

[5] Ibid., 210.

[6] Ibid., 219.

[7] Ibid., 235.

[8] Ibid., 236.

[9] Ibid., 237.

[10] Ibid., 237.

[11] Ibid., 235.

[12] Ibid., 238.

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