Internalized Sexism

From a talk by Tim Jackins at a teachers’ and leaders’ workshop in England, January 2016

The oppression of women is very real and very heavy, with lots of variation depending on where you are and whom you’re with. It’s built into the structures of society. There are big battles to take on there.

I think that for many people in RC, internalized sexism is still a big limiting factor in their backing each other fully and moving out into the world to challenge the structures. I’m talking here about women’s attitudes toward each other that have been pushed on them by society.

I said this morning that there is no limit to how wonderfully intelligent we can be. There is also no obvious limit to how troubled we can act toward each other. Women can be very nasty to each other. They can be viciously nasty—and smile. 

That piece of what’s been done to women hasn’t gotten worked on very fully as yet. As with a lot of oppressions, people try to hold it out of sight, not act it out, make it less obvious that they have it. But sooner or later it gets restimulated enough and gets acted on. What that does to the trust in the relationship can be big. Two women can know they each have this material and can still like and care about each other, but if it ever gets loose and gets aimed at each other, they often don’t know how to get back together. It is so restimulating of what’s happened before. They each have been targeted by similar behavior too many times before without the chance to discharge.

We all have distresses that are really nasty. You’re nice people—and there are certain moments in your life when I don’t want to be around you. It feels dangerous to me. I get restimulated, and I’m not sure that I know how to handle it, and I don’t feel like trying to handle it.

We all have both sides to work on—how vulnerable we feel, and our potential for losing control of what we haven’t been able to work on.

We’re very good counselors as long as our Co-Counselor likes us all the time, but any little look of irritation is enough to push us back a couple of feet. We have to get less vulnerable to that kind of thing. We have to be able to handle horrible material. The world is full of horrible material. And none of it is meant. None of it is personal. It’s all restimulation. Yet we can’t remember that at those moments.

So let’s use this as a pretext for a mini-session. What’s the material that you hope no one acts out at you? What’s the unbearable thing that you could not handle?

Tim Jackins

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00