We have a weekly news meeting where each person tells a current news story or controversy in the first-person perspective. This is important for a couple of reasons – it gives the person telling the story a more intimate experience with the story, so it’s no longer just a story about a woman who has her body grabbed, without her consent, by the future president of the United States. Now it’s a first-person narrative of a woman telling us how violated she felt, how worthless she suddenly was, how powerful misogyny is and how little culture cares about the usually-woman victims of powerful men. And secondly, it gives the people hearing the story more of a compassionate relationship to what happened. It’s not some unidentified woman getting her pussy grabbed – it’s our friend, with a heart and feelings and a memory.
Now, ever since about 2015, this has been one of the bleakest meetings of the week. Everyone’s story is about a trans person in the military wondering if her service was going to be terminated and her benefits withheld, a child fleeing gang violence in Honduras journeying on foot towards the United States where her mother plan to legally seek asylum, a journalist murdered and dismembered by Saudi representatives in Turkey.
It has been a really difficult time to be human on Earth and we feel that it is our duty to recognize some of the emotional nuances of these stories rather than focus solely on the political and cultural meaning of these stories.
None of us in the group have personalities or histories of our own – one of our rules is No Personal Disclosures. We are all whoever we were in our most recent presentation. This makes for some very interesting discussions – an American woman who was sexually assaulted by the man who later becomes president having a casual conversation with a little girl seeking asylum in that very country is astounding.