Casting Curses and Love Spells with the Most Powerful Witches in Romania


I have always been fascinated by witches women whose reputable power was so feared 100s of thousands were killed in the great European witch hunt But in Romania, the homeland of Dracula and superstition, witchcraft has not only survived. It’s very much alive and well So I’m heading there to learn about witches and how they influence modern Romanian society So I’ve just arrived to the village of Mogosoaia in the outskirts of Bucharest and I’m about to meet real life withches for the first time and not just any witches but supposedly Romania’s most powerful ones I’m Milène Mihaela lives with her husband Crag, her son Antonio and daughters Anna and Cassandra who are also witches She comes from a long lines of Roma gypsies who as nomads collected occult traditions and mixed them with their Orthodox Christian faith I’m here for the most important days in the witch calendar culminating with the Summer solstice when witches have the power to predict the future But first is the Christian festival of Pentecost the only day of the year when witches can brew love potions Is it important to wear beautiful clothes when you do rituals? To take part in the ritual I have to wear the right dress So we are going to pick some traditional herbs from the meadows Like royal lineage, a witch’s magical power is passed down from mother to daughter This remedy for heartache has been in the family for generations It’s a terrible thing. I’ve been heartbroken many times I’m not convinced talking to flowers can actually cure heartbreak But I’m curious to find out how it’s supposed to work Mihaela, who’s going to drink it? C’mon, give me love…happiness Did you and your husband have some of that? Was that something that you wanted to do? To get married when you were 13? It’s this alliance of witch dynasties that makes Mihaela’s family one of the most well regarded in the country Witchcraft is recognised and thriving in the Romania of today But it was banned during Communism Ceaușescu ruled the country with an iron fist It was a time of profound poverty and persecution of any threat to his absolute power At 17, Mihaela’s mother-in-law, Bratara, reputably one of the world’s most powerful witches experienced the wrath of Ceaușescu’s rule What was it like to be a witch during Communism? Were you scared? These days, much of the family’s witch business is done on the phone or online So you can do like long distance witchcraft? All they need are the first names of those involved and they spell they want Are you worried that modern times will change this ancient craft? What was witchcraft like when you were a kid? And that’s when Bratara invites me to the kitchen to cook up a curse And then the curse takes a different direction making me wonder if Bratara is sending me a warning Do you ever feel guilty when you do spells like this? All these black magic flying around must be good for business Virginia is a client to Mihaela who believes she’s under the influence of a curse Hi, I’m Milene Nice to meet you She’s already had several sessions What are you seeking Mihaela’s help for today? How do you become possessed by the devil? How do you cure somebody who’s possessed by the devil? You know, I’ve suffered from similar things occur like really bad nightmares. I had sleep paralysis Stuff that you can’t explain like demon looking creatures coming and like holding you out of bed so i can absolutely relate to how desperate you are to get any type of form of help Mihaela wants to rest for a bit she told us to go away. I don’t even know what to make out of all this Got a bit freaked out when she started… sort of shooing out the spirit towards me and the crew My nightmares went away after a year of therapy so I want to know if Virginia has considered that option Is it the same type of price? Do you feel like it’s helping? Bye How do you think Virginia is doing now? It’s interesting to see just how much people believe in it and when you are there and you see it, you know, it is a really strange experience and who knows..you know..what’s real, what’s not real. It’s definitely something that Mihaela’s client, Virginia, thinks is real and I’m curious to find out what people pay her for her services Mihaela’s getting a phone call from her client in Portugal It’s funny her phone is busy all the time Let’s pretend I was married and my husband was unfaithful What would it cost me to get your help? And people feel like to get back the love of their life, this is, this is worth a good investment How many clients do you have on average in a day or in a week? Is it ever difficult to get paid by clients? When we stopped at the market, it’s obvious how popular Mihaela is It seems like no one wants to be on her bad side Where are we going now? Mihaela seems to make quite a lot of money. In fact, Romania’s witch economy is worth at least a million Euros a year and they are all doing it tax free Did it go ok? In 2011, the Romanian government tried to introduce a law, forcing witches to pay tax but it was never passed To find out why, I’m meeting the politician behind it How come the law was never passed? So politicians were afraid of being hexed? Why did you want to introduce this law? Who were the witches that threatened your colleagues in parliament? Do you think that’s fair? Cursing politicians? And why do you not want to pay tax? It’s my last night with the witches And the year’s most important celebration, Summer’s solstice, is about to begin All the daughters and nieces, the whole witch clan gathered for a ceremony of love and destiny At midnight, apparently, they will open the sky and they will be able to read the future of mankind in the stars Bratara what did you see in the stars? While Bratara predicts the obvious, world conflicts, Mihaela is more specific It turns out that in the following months, Romania did have floods and drought and 2 major politicians resigned But of course this could have just been coincidence What I realised, is that the witch’s power lays in the people’s fear of supernatural but above all the need to believe that you can meddle with destiny One thing is for sure. Witches do exist. Just like in the fairytales and whether you believe in magic or witchcraft or not. It’s up to you But whatever you believe, will have power over you. Oh my god! That is actually a black cat! Don’t know what to think

Iconic Author Margaret Atwood on Abortion, Twitter, and Predicting Everything We’re Doing Wrong


Not everybody’s going to like your work and if they do, you’re doing something wrong I’m Lauren Oyler and this is Broadly Meets Today I’m in New York City talking with Canadian author Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood is an award-winning author of more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays Her work has been published in 35 countries and across several genres Known in her early career for pushing conventional boundaries in both her politics and her prose style, Atwood is constantly examining contemporary culture and discussing women’s rights. Margaret Atwood continues to remain on the forefront of the literary world She’s always exploring new ways of storytelling, especially when it comes to the surreal or the speculative. Her newest and 15th novel, “The Heart Goes Last,” was published in the fall of 2015 We recently sat down with the author to talk about her extensive career and some of the themes she has returned to throughout her work INTERVIEWER: What’s your daily routine? ATWOOD: Get up in the morning drink some blood (laughs) INTERVIEWER: Go on ATWOOD: It’s like everybody’s work process: I get up, I have breakfast, I work INTERVIEWER: A lot of your books deal with a sort of near future and they’re very speculative People will often say things like, “Oh, this happened in ‘Oryx and Crake’ by Margaret Atwood, Oh, this is just like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, which was written in 1985 and now it’s really happening.” Did you anticipate ATWOOD: Doesn’t that creep you out? INTERVIEWER: It does, yeah. Did you anticipate that? ATWOOD: Well no, you don’t write those books because you hope those things will happen you write those books because you think they might happen but you would rather they didn’t. NARRATION: Atwood’s first novel, “The Edible Woman,” published in 1969, explored several controversial issues of the time, including gender, the constraints of domestic life, and reproductive rights. 16 years later, her book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was then made into a film starring Natasha Richardson and Faye Dunaway, examined questions about women’s rights and sexuality even further Although The Handmaid’s Tale was written over 30 years ago, it feels eerily relevant in the context of today’s debates about Planned Parenthood and abortion rights How do you see women’s rights right now? People have to decide what kind of world they want to live in Are we in favor of forced childbirth (?) Because that’s the world that we are going to get if we shut down reproductive rights Right to life is one way of putting it Forced childbirth is another way It just doesn’t seem like… That’s a good idea or going to happen It does seem to be that every totalitarian government on the planet has always taken a very great interest in women’s reproductive rights Do you think I need to be worried about it, as a member of the younger generation? No, cause you live in New York sure

The 1960s in America: Crash Course US History #40


Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course
US History and today we’re gonna talk about the 1960s.
Mr. Green, Mr. Green. Great. The decade made famous by the narcissists who lived through
it. Hey, Me From the Past, finally you and I agree
about something wholeheartedly. But while I don’t wish to indulge the baby-boomers’
fantasies about their centrality to world history, the sixties were an important time.
I mean, there was the Cold War, Vietnam, a rising tide of conservatism (despite Woodstock),
racism. There were the Kennedy’s and Camelot, John,
Paul, George, and to a lesser extent, Ringo. And of course, there was also Martin Luther
King Jr. intro
So, the 1960s saw people organizing and actively working for change both in the social order
and in government. This included the student movement, the women’s movement, movements
for gay rights, and a push by the courts to expand rights in general.
But, by the end of the 1960s, the anti-war movement seemed to have overshadowed all the
rest. So as you’ll no doubt remember from last
week, the civil rights movement began in the 1950s if not before, but many of its key moments
happened in the sixties. And this really began with sit-ins that took
place in Greensboro North Carolina. Black university students walked into Woolworths
and waited at the lunch counters to be served, or, more likely, arrested.
After 5 months of that, those students eventually got Woolworths to serve black customers.
Then, in 1961 leaders from the Congress On Racial Equality launched Freedom Rides to
integrate interstate buses. Volunteers rode the buses into the Deep South where they faced
violence including beatings and a bombing in Anniston AL.
But despite that, those freedom rides also proved successful and eventually the ICC desegregated
interstate buses. In fact, by the end of the 60s over 70,000
people had taken part in demonstrations, from sit-ins, to teach-ins, to marches.
But they weren’t all successful. Martin Luther King’s year-long protests in Albany,
GA didn’t end discrimination in the city. And it took JFK ordering federal troops to
escort James Meredith to class for him to attend the University of Mississippi.
The University of Mississippi: America’s fallback college. Sorry, I’m from Alabama.
So, the Civil Rights movement reached its greatest national prominence in 1963 when
Martin Luther King came to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, where there had been
more than 50 racially-motivated bombings since WWII.
Television brought the reality of the Jim Crow South into people’s homes as images
of Bull Connor’s police dogs and water cannons being turned on peaceful marchers, many of
them children, horrified viewers and eventually led Kennedy to endorse the movement’s goals.
Probably should mention that John F. Kennedy was president of the United States at the
time, having been elected in 1960. He was assassinated in 1963 leading to Lyndon Johnson.
Alright, politics over. Anyway, in response to these peaceful protests,
Birmingham jailed Martin Luther King where he wrote one of the great letters in American
history (doesn’t have a great name): Letter from Birmingham Jail.
1963 also saw the March on Washington, the largest public demonstration in American history
up to that time where King gave his famous speech, “I have a Dream.”
King and the other organizers called for a civil rights bill and help for the poor, demanding
public works, a higher minimum wage, and an end to discrimination in employment.
Which eventually, in one of the great bright spots in American history, did sort of happen
with the Civil Rights Act. So, one reason American history teachers focus
on the Civil Rights Movement so much is that it successfully brought actual legislative
change. After being elected president, John F. Kennedy
was initially cool to civil rights, but to be fair, the Cold War occupied a lot of his
time, what with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs and whatnot.
But the demonstrations of 1963 pushed John F. Kennedy to support civil rights more actively.
According to our dear friend, the historian Eric Foner, “Kennedy realized that the United
States simply could not declare itself the champion of freedom throughout the world while
maintaining a system of racial inequality at home.”[1]
So that June he appeared on TV and called on Congress to pass a law that would ban discrimination
in all public accommodations. And then he was assassinated. Thanks, Lee
Harvey Oswald. Or possibly someone else. But probably Lee Harvey Oswald.
So then, Lyndon Johnson became president and he pushed Congress to pass the Civil Rights
Act of 1964. The law prohibited discrimination in employment,
schools, hospitals, and privately owned public places like restaurants, and hotels and theaters,
and it also banned discrimination on the basis of sex.
The Civil Rights Act was a major moment in American legislative history, but it hardly
made the United States a haven of equality. So, Civil Rights leaders continued to push
for the enfranchisement of African Americans. After Freedom Summer workers registered people
in Mississippi to vote, King launched a march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama in January,
1965. And television swayed public opinion in favor
of the demonstrators. Thank you, TV, for your one and only gift to humanity. Just kidding.
Battlestar Galactica. So, in 1965 Congress passed the Voting Rights
Act, which gave the federal government the power to oversee voting in places where discrimination
was practiced. In 1965, Congress also passed the Hart-Cellar
Act, which got rid of national origin quotas and allowed Asian immigrants to immigrate
to the United States. Unfortunately the law also introduced quotas on immigrants from
the Western Hemisphere. Lyndon Johnson’s domestic initiatives from
1965 through 1967 are known as the Great Society, and it’s possible that if he hadn’t been
responsible for America escalating the war in Vietnam, he might have been remembered,
at least by liberals, as one of America’s greatest presidents.
Because the Great Society expanded a lot of the promises of the New Deal, especially in
the creation of health insurance programs, like Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid
for the poor. He also went to War on Poverty. Never go to
war with a noun. You will always lose. Johnson treated poverty as a social problem,
rather than an economic one. So instead of focusing on jobs or guaranteed income, his
initiatives stressed things like training. That unfortunately failed to take into account
shifts in the economy away from high wage union manufacturing jobs toward more lower-wage
service jobs. [2] Here’s what Eric Foner had to say about
Johnson’s domestic accomplishments: “By the 1990s […] the historic gap between whites
and blacks in education, income, and access to skilled employment narrowed considerably.
But with deindustrialization and urban decay affecting numerous families and most suburbs
still being off limits to non-white people, the median wealth of white households remained
ten times greater than that of African Americans, and nearly a quarter of all black children
lived in poverty.” While Congress was busy enacting Johnson’s
Great Society programs, the movement for African American freedom was changing. Let’s go
to the ThoughtBubble. Persistent poverty and continued discrimination
in the workplace, housing, education, and criminal justice system might explain the
shift away from integration and toward black power, a celebration of African American culture
and criticism of whites’ oppression. 1964 saw the beginnings of riots in city ghettoes,
for instance, mostly in Northern cities. The worst riots were in 1965 in Watts, in
southern California. These left 35 people dead, 900 injured, and $30 million in damage.
Newark and Detroit also saw devastating riots in 1967. In 1968 the Kerner Report blamed
the cause of the rioting on segregation, poverty, and white racism.
Then there’s Malcolm X, who many white people regarded as an advocate for violence, but
who also called for self-reliance. It’s tempting to see leadership shifting from King
to X as the civil rights movement became more militant, but Malcolm X was active in the
early 1960s and he was killed in 1965, three years before Martin Luther King was assassinated
and before all the major shifts in emphasis towards black power.
Older Civil Rights groups like CORE abandoned integration as a goal after 1965 and started
to call for black power. The rhetoric of Black Power could be strident, but its message of
black empowerment was deeply resonant for many. Oakland’s Black Panther Party did
carry guns in self-defense but they also offered a lot of neighborhood services. But the Black
Power turned many white people away from the struggle for African American freedom, and
by the end of the 1960s, many Americans’ attention had shifted to anti-war movement.
Thanks, ThoughtBubble. So it was Vietnam that really galvanized students even though many
didn’t have to go to Vietnam because they had student deferments. They just really,
really didn’t want their friends to go. The anti-war movement and the civil rights
movement inspired other groups to seek an end to oppression. Like, Latinos organized
to celebrate their heritage and end discrimination. Latino activism was like black power, but
much more explicitly linked to labor justice, especially the strike efforts led by Cesar
Chavez and the United Farm Workers. The American Indian Movement, founded in 1968,
took over Alcatraz to symbolize the land that had been taken from Native Americans. And
they won greater tribal control over education, economic development, and they also filed
suits for restitution. And in June of 1969, after police raided a
gay bar, called the Stonewall Inn, members of the gay community began a series of demonstrations
in New York City, which touched off the modern gay liberation movement.
Oh, it’s time for the Mystery Document? The rules here are pretty simple.
I read the Mystery Document, guess the author, I’m either right or I get shocked.
Alright, what have we got here. If the Bill of Rights contains no guarantee
that a citizen shall be secure against lethal poisons distributed either by private individuals
or by public officials [I already know it!], it is surely only because our forefathers,
despite their considerable wisdom and foresight, could conceive of no such problem. Rachel Carson! Silent Spring. YES. I am on
such a roll. Silent Spring was a massively important book
because it was the first time that anyone really described all of the astonishingly
poisonous things we were putting into the air and the ground and the water.
Fortunately, that’s all been straightened out now and everything that we do and make
as human beings is now sustainable. What’s that? Oh god.
The environmental movement gained huge bipartisan support and it resulted in important legislation
during the Nixon era, including the Clean Air and Water Acts, and the Endangered Species
Act. And yes, I said that environmental legislation was passed during the Nixon administration.
But perhaps the most significant freedom movement in terms of number of people involved and
long-lasting effects was the American Feminist movement.
This is usually said to have begun with the publication of Betty Friedan’s book The
Feminine Mystique, which set out to describe “the problem that has no name.” Turns
out the name is “misogyny.” [3] Friedan described a constricting social and
economic system that affected mostly middle class women, but it resonated with the educated
classes and led to the foundation of the National Organization of Women in 1966.
Participation in student and civil rights movements led many women to identify themselves
as members of a group that was systematically discriminated against.
And by “systemic,” I mean that in 1963, 5.8% of doctors were women and 3.7% of lawyers
were women and fewer than 10% of doctoral degrees went to women. They are more than
half of the population. While Congress responded with the Equal Pay
Act in 1963, younger women sought greater power and autonomy in addition to legislation.
Crucially, 60s-era feminists opened America to the idea that the “personal is political,”
especially when it came to equal pay, childcare, and abortion.
Weirdly, the branch of government that provided most support to the expansion of personal
freedom in the 1960s was the most conservative one, the Supreme Court. The Warren Court handed
down so many decisions expanding civil rights that the era has sometimes been called a rights
revolution. The Warren court expanded the protections
of free speech and assembly under the First Amendment and freedom of the press in the
New York Times v. Sullivan decision. It struck down a law banning interracial marriage in
the most appropriately named case ever, Loving v. Virginia.
And although this would become a lightning rod for many conservatives, Supreme Court
decisions greatly expanded the protections of people accused of crimes.
Gideon v. Wainwright secured the right to attorney, Mapp v. Ohio established the exclusionary
rule under the Fourth Amendment, and Miranda v. Arizona provided fodder for Channing Tatum
in his great movie, 21 Jump Street, insuring that he would always have to say to every
perp, “You have the right to remain silent.” But you can’t silence my heart, Channing
Tatum. It beats only for thee. But, the most innovative and controversial
decisions actually established a new right where none had existed in the constitution.
Griswold v. Connecticut, dealt with contraception, and Roe v. Wade, guaranteed a woman’s right
to an abortion (at least in the first trimester). And those two decisions formed the basis of
a new right, the right to privacy. Protests, the counter culture, and the liberation
movements continued well into the early 1970s, losing steam with the end of the Vietnam war
and America’s economy plunging into the toilet. For many, though, the year 1968 sums
up the decade. 1968 began with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam,
which stirred up the anti-war protests. Then racial violence erupted after the assassination
of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. Then, anti-war demonstrators as well as some
counter culture types arrived in large numbers at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago
where they were set upon by police and beaten in what was later described as a “police
riot.” 1968 also saw the Prague Spring uprising in
Czechoslovakia crushed by the Soviets. And student demonstrators were killed by the police
in Mexico City where the Olympics were held and Parisian students took to the streets
in widespread protests against, you know, France.
All this unrest scared a lot of people who ended up voting for Richard Nixon and his
promises to return to law and order. Ultimately, like any decade or arbitrary historical
“age,” the 60s defies easy categorization. Yes, there were hippies and liberation movements,
but there were also reactions to those movements. On this one, I’m just gonna leave it up
to Eric Foner to summarize the decade’s legacy:
“[The 1960s] made possible the entrance of numerous members of racial minorities into
the mainstream of American life, while leaving unsolved the problem of urban poverty. It
set in motion a transformation of the status of women. It changed what Americans expected
from government – from clean air and water to medical coverage in old age.
And at the same time, it undermined confidence in national leaders. Relations between young
and old, men and women, and white and non-white, along with every institution in society, changed
as a result.” But there’s one last thing I want to emphasize.
All of this wasn’t really the result of, like, a radical revolution. It was the result
of a process that had been going on for decades. I mean, arguably a process that had been going
on for hundreds of years. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next week.
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What Islam really says about women | Alaa Murabit


So on my way here, the passenger next to me and I
had a very interesting conversation during my flight. He told me, “It seems like
the United States has run out of jobs, because they’re just making some up: cat psychologist, dog whisperer,
tornado chaser.” A couple of seconds later, he asked me, “So what do you do?” And I was like, “Peacebuilder?” (Laughter) Every day, I work to amplify
the voices of women and to highlight their experiences and their participation in peace
processes and conflict resolution, and because of my work, I recognize that the only way to ensure
the full participation of women globally is by reclaiming religion. Now, this matter is vitally
important to me. As a young Muslim woman,
I am very proud of my faith. It gives me the strength and conviction
to do my work every day. It’s the reason I can be here
in front of you. But I can’t overlook the damage that has
been done in the name of religion, not just my own, but all
of the world’s major faiths. The misrepresentation and misuse
and manipulation of religious scripture has influenced our social
and cultural norms, our laws, our daily lives, to a point where we sometimes
don’t recognize it. My parents moved from Libya,
North Africa, to Canada in the early 1980s, and I am the middle child of 11 children. Yes, 11. But growing up, I saw my parents, both religiously devout
and spiritual people, pray and praise God for their blessings, namely me of course, but among others.
(Laughter) They were kind and funny and patient, limitlessly patient, the kind of patience
that having 11 kids forces you to have. And they were fair. I was never subjected to religion
through a cultural lens. I was treated the same, the same was expected of me. I was never taught that God
judged differently based on gender. And my parents’ understanding of God
as a merciful and beneficial friend and provider shaped the way
I looked at the world. Now, of course, my upbringing
had additional benefits. Being one of 11 children is Diplomacy 101.
(Laughter) To this day, I am asked
where I went to school, like, “Did you go to
Kennedy School of Government?” and I look at them and I’m like, “No, I went to the Murabit School
of International Affairs.” It’s extremely exclusive. You would have
to talk to my mom to get in. Lucky for you, she’s here. But being one of 11 children
and having 10 siblings teaches you a lot about
power structures and alliances. It teaches you focus; you have
to talk fast or say less, because you will always get cut off. It teaches you the importance
of messaging. You have to ask questions in the right way
to get the answers you know you want, and you have to say no
in the right way to keep the peace. But the most important lesson
I learned growing up was the importance of being at the table. When my mom’s favorite lamp broke,
I had to be there when she was trying to find out how and by who,
because I had to defend myself, because if you’re not,
then the finger is pointed at you, and before you know it,
you will be grounded. I am not speaking
from experience, of course. When I was 15 in 2005,
I completed high school and I moved from Canada — Saskatoon — to Zawiya, my parents’ hometown in Libya, a very traditional city. Mind you, I had only ever been
to Libya before on vacation, and as a seven-year-old girl,
it was magic. It was ice cream and trips to the beach
and really excited relatives. Turns out it’s not the same
as a 15-year-old young lady. I very quickly became introduced
to the cultural aspect of religion. The words “haram” —
meaning religiously prohibited — and “aib” — meaning
culturally inappropriate — were exchanged carelessly, as if they meant the same thing
and had the same consequences. And I found myself in conversation
after conversation with classmates and colleagues, professors,
friends, even relatives, beginning to question my own role
and my own aspirations. And even with the foundation
my parents had provided for me, I found myself questioning
the role of women in my faith. So at the Murabit School
of International Affairs, we go very heavy on the debate, and rule number one is do your research,
so that’s what I did, and it surprised me how easy it was to find women in my faith
who were leaders, who were innovative, who were strong — politically, economically,
even militarily. Khadija financed the Islamic movement in its infancy. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. So why weren’t we learning about her? Why weren’t we learning about these women? Why were women being relegated
to positions which predated the teachings of our faith? And why, if we are equal
in the eyes of God, are we not equal in the eyes of men? To me, it all came back to the lessons
I had learned as a child. The decision maker, the person
who gets to control the message, is sitting at the table, and unfortunately,
in every single world faith, they are not women. Religious institutions
are dominated by men and driven by male leadership, and they create policies
in their likeness, and until we can change
the system entirely, then we can’t realistically
expect to have full economic and political participation of women. Our foundation is broken. My mom actually says, you can’t build
a straight house on a crooked foundation. In 2011, the Libyan revolution broke out,
and my family was on the front lines. And there’s this amazing thing
that happens in war, a cultural shift almost, very temporary. And it was the first time that I felt
it was not only acceptable for me to be involved,
but it was encouraged. It was demanded. Myself and other women
had a seat at the table. We weren’t holding hands or a medium. We were part of decision making. We were information sharing.
We were crucial. And I wanted and needed
for that change to be permanent. Turns out, that’s not that easy. It only took a few weeks before the women
that I had previously worked with were returning back
to their previous roles, and most of them were driven
by words of encouragement from religious and political leaders, most of whom cited religious scripture
as their defense. It’s how they gained popular support
for their opinions. So initially, I focused on the economic
and political empowerment of women. I thought that would lead
to cultural and social change. It turns out, it does a little,
but not a lot. I decided to use
their defense as my offense, and I began to cite and highlight
Islamic scripture as well. In 2012 and 2013, my organization
led the single largest and most widespread
campaign in Libya. We entered homes and schools
and universities, even mosques. We spoke to 50,000 people directly, and hundreds of thousands more through
billboards and television commercials, radio commercials and posters. And you’re probably wondering how
a women’s rights organization was able to do this in communities
which had previously opposed our sheer existence. I used scripture. I used verses from the Quran
and sayings of the Prophet, Hadiths, his sayings which
are, for example, “The best of you is the best
to their family.” “Do not let your brother oppress another.” For the first time, Friday sermons
led by local community imams promoted the rights of women. They discussed taboo issues,
like domestic violence. Policies were changed. In certain communities,
we actually had to go as far as saying the International
Human Rights Declaration, which you opposed because it wasn’t
written by religious scholars, well, those same principles
are in our book. So really, the United Nations
just copied us. By changing the message,
we were able to provide an alternative narrative which promoted
the rights of women in Libya. It’s something that has now
been replicated internationally, and while I am not saying it’s easy —
believe me, it’s not. Liberals will say you’re using religion
and call you a bad conservative. Conservatives will call you
a lot of colorful things. I’ve heard everything from, “Your parents
must be extremely ashamed of you” — false; they’re my biggest fans — to “You will not make it
to your next birthday” — again wrong, because I did. And I remain a very strong believer that women’s rights
and religion are not mutually exclusive. But we have to be at the table. We have to stop giving up our position,
because by remaining silent, we allow for the continued persecution
and abuse of women worldwide. By saying that we’re going
to fight for women’s rights and fight extremism
with bombs and warfare, we completely cripple local societies
which need to address these issues so that they’re sustainable. It is not easy, challenging
distorted religious messaging. You will have your fair share
of insults and ridicule and threats. But we have to do it. We have no other option than to reclaim
the message of human rights, the principles of our faith, not for us, not for
the women in your families, not for the women in this room, not even for the women out there, but for societies
that would be transformed with the participation of women. And the only way we can do that, our only option, is to be, and remain, at the table. Thank you. (Applause)

Documentary: A Glitch in the Matrix (David Fuller production)


Sometimes there’s a glitch in the matrix where the limitations of the old operating system are laid bare and something new pokes through They’ve been dozens of responses to the jordan peterson channel for interview already. What makes this one different? Well, I have a pretty unique perspective in October last year I went to Toronto to interview Jordan Peterson at his home you came in from where I came in from London last night, I turned the interview into the first full-length documentary about Jordan Peterson’s ideas I Was pretty sure he’d soon become a lot more famous and be recognized as one of the most significant public thinkers but I couldn’t possibly have predicted how he’d break through to a mass audience a few weeks later Peterson did an interview with journalist Kathy Newman on Channel four News in the UK a Program I worked on as a reporter and producer for ten years It was a sensation Millions watched it online Tens of thousands commented an overwhelming majority felt Peterson had been unfairly represented And in the week since it hasn’t stopped Peterson has been asked about it constantly on the most high-profile online shows 12 rules for life so without reading this So what you’re saying is There’s only 12 things you need to do in life right, that’s it well yeah this This interview that you just did with this woman Kathy Newman shit was that in the UK it was Channel 4 UK so what does this glitch say about the state of mainstream media and the culture at large By diagnosis of what’s actually happening is that people are moving further and further away from? what is what thinking actually is I’m at or more into merely running a script and What does Jordan Peterson actually think that’s so controversial you are? misrepresented more than anyone I know in a weird way. You are villainized in a weird way where I can’t believe that these people are honestly looking at your opinions and Coming up with these conclusions. I believe this encounter struck such a nerve because it’s a cultural watershed moment But seen properly as Peterson would say it’s archetypal in that it contains layers and layers of meaning That go right to the heart of the biggest rift. We’re seeing playing out in the culture Over the next 50 minutes. I’m gonna do my best to unpack it From the clash between new and old media. There’s also why YouTube is gonna kill TV Because television by its nature all of these narrow broadcast technologies they rely on forcing the story all the way down to the mythological an Archetypal level I thought of ideologies as fragmentary mythologies That’s where they get their archetypal and psychological power, but in the postmodern world and this seems to be something that’s increasingly Seeping out into the culture at large you have nothing but the tyrannical father nothing But the destructive force of masculine consciousness and nothing, but the benevolent Benevolent great mother and it’s a it’s an appalling ideology, and it seems to me that it’s sucking the vitality Which is exactly what you’d expect symbolically It’s sucking the vitality of her culture and to ask how do we move forward constructively rather than just adding to the polarization? I’ve been a journalist for 16 years in the newsrooms of the BBC in channel 4 and then making documentaries I moved away from the frontline of news some time ago and started learning psychology Which is what first drew me to Jordan Peterson? from a distance I’ve started to see the blind spots of the establishment media much more clearly I Spent some of the best years of my working life at Channel 4 News and have a huge amount of respect And gratitude to the program But I’m making this film because I feel so strongly that if we can’t have open conversations about the kind of topics Peterson is raising We’re in serious trouble My book went up to number two and on amazon.com in the US the next day right it’s number one in Canada it’s number three in the UK all on Amazon I Couldn’t have asked for more publicity right and so I could also be sitting back and saying well. You know she tried to My a person who regarded herself as my ideological opponent Tried to go after my philosophy and my reputation on national TV Failed brutally and has been taken apart for it. It’s like This is a good day, but I don’t regard it as a good day. I don’t think it’s a good day I think that it’s evidence of the Instability of the times that we’re in it would have been much better For me and for everyone else if what we would have had was a real conversation You said that it’s actually a sign of the times where things could go really wrong for all of us really soon Yeah, we’re playing with fire. Yeah, what do you mean by this? Can you can you elaborate? Well things go wrong in cultures all the time right you get you get the polarization Increases until people start to act it out Peterson is one of a new breed of thinkers made famous almost completely by the internet not the broadcast media Part of a powerful new informal network being called the intellectual dark web The mainstream media is based on an old dying model that is being replaced by new media And new technology so quickly that its faults are becoming glaringly obvious Fortunately, thanks to YouTube podcasting and however else you get shows like this one the mainstream media’s stranglehold on information Which really is a stranglehold on your ability to think clearly about the issues of the day is crumbling at an incredible rate? Now the question is who and what will replace it a few months ago one of my favorite people to sit across this table from Eric Weinstein came up with the phrase Intellectual dark web to describe this eclectic mix of people from Sam Harris to Ben Shapiro to his brother Brett Weinstein to jordan Peterson all of whom are figuring out ways to have the important and often dangerous Conversations that are completely ignored by the mainstream It’s why I would argue that this collection of people are actually more influential at this point than whatever collection of cable news pundits you can come up with If you think I’m being hyperbolic about the growing influence of this group just check the traction that these people get on Twitter or Facebook Compared to our mainstream competitors twitter may not be real life as I say in my Twitter bio But it is some barometer of what the zeitgeist is right now what unites this group of thinkers is a sense that the set of ideas that have run Western culture for years are breaking down and That the chaos of the moment is the attempt to find new ones It’s nearly all happening online part of the problem that we have right now in our culture is Trying to diagnose the level at which the discussion should be taking place And I think the reason that this is a tumultuous time is because it actually is a time for discussion of first principles and it’s that first principles are Virtually at the level of theology because the first principles are the things that you assume and then move forwards like well What should we assume well the dignity of the human soul let’s start with that you can’t treat yourself properly without assuming that you Have a relationship with another person you can’t stabilize your family You can’t have a functional society, so what does it mean for this human soul to have dignity? well The part of the idea is that you’re participating in Creation itself and you do that with your actions in your language And you get to decide whether you’re tilting the world a bit more towards heaven or a bit more towards hell And that’s actually what you’re doing so that’s a place where the literal and the metaphorical truth comes together and people are very They’re terrified of that idea as they should be because it’s a massive responsibility They also argue that the central problem is polarization boosted by social media Peterson’s work looks at how people are hard-wired to see the world differently a lot of what determines your political orientation is Biological temperament far more than people realize so for example left-leaning people liberals, let’s say although that’s kind of MIS misnomer, but We’ll keep with the terminology liberals are high in a trait called openness, which is one of the big five personality traits And it’s associated with interest in abstraction and interest in aesthetics it’s the best predictor of liberal political leaning and they’re low in trait conscientiousness, which is dutifulness and and Orderliness in particular whereas the Conservatives are the opposite? They’re high in conscientiousness They’re dutiful and orderly and they’re low in openness and that makes them really good managers and administers ministers and often businessman But not very good entrepreneurs Because the entrepreneurs are almost all drawn from the liberal types and so These are really fundamental fundamentally biologically predicated differences, and they’re you might think about them as different sets of Opportunities and limitations, and and certainly different ways of screening the world and Each of those different temperamental types needs the other type Let’s call this a diversity issue if you start understanding that the person that you’re talking to who doesn’t share your political views isn’t Stupid that’s the first thing necessarily. They might be but so might you be no stupid. He isn’t the Differences in intelligence are not the prime determinant of differences in political belief All right so you might be talking to someone who’s More conscientious and less creative than you if you’re if you happen to be a liberal But that doesn’t mean that that person’s perspective is not valid And it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t outperform you in some domains because they would so one thing to remember is People actually do see the world differently. It’s not merely that they that they’re possessed of love ilie informed opinions the whole point of the dava democracy is to Continue the dialogue between people of different Temperamental types so that we don’t move so far to the right that everything becomes encapsulated and stone and doesn’t move or so far to the left and everything dissolves in a kind of Mealy-mouthed chaos and the only way that you can you can navigate between those two Shoals is by is through discussion, which is why free speech is such an important value It’s the thing that keeps the temperamental types from being at each other’s throats in The aftermath of the Trump election that came as such a shock to most of the media One of the most widely shared analysis pieces was from deep code It describes how the establishment mainstream media perspective based around liberal values of openness and inclusivity He calls the blue church is being challenged by a new web-based insurgency a red religion based on the values of tribalism The culture were the the 20th century was a decisive success for blue any effectively a route for red So what we see first is that red was forced to move into a deeply exploratory phase Second that it did this in a context Where as it turns out? things were changing meaningfully quite significantly in fact it from my perspective in a world historical level the emergence of entirely new forms of communication and therefore entirely new sense-making and coherence He concludes that the blue church is in the process of collapse as its dominant ideology Can’t adapt to changing reality But that a combination of the two sets of values of blue and red is essential we are conscious and Effective in the world in groups, not as individuals and the ingredients of those groups Include aspects that are currently showing up as both red and blue I Propose somewhat strongly that Neither red nor blue as pure Elements contain the ingredients necessary to actually be adaptive to reality This is a disaster in fact It’s a little bit like Separating the hand and the eye Now you’re the eye can see if the eye takes itself as being the essence of virtue it separates itself from the ability to do The same thing with the hand for most of human history these groups have actually always commingled They’re necessary that they actually relate to each other in a deeply healthy and direct fashion their separations into armed camps is Extinction area actually you know the values of red that you think blue needs to integrate you also may also reintegrate. Oh well That’s actually pretty easy Responsibility I mean we’ve actually even seen it The ability to Make a commitment and keep it Which which by the way ideologically shows up is either duty or loyalty, but those are both ideologies the the deeper sense is that ability Responsibility both of the individual in the group level the ability to actually really make a Personal sacrifice on the part of the group that’s actually a deeply read value and I don’t mean that by the way as Politically ideological certainly there are people who? Are currently part of blue who feel that deeply what I’m saying is that that shows up much much more intensely in Read and when you’re feeling it in blue. You’re actually feeling a red value, and that’s good mixing is crucial Because that’s very Jordan Peterson esque – How would you how do you define Jordan Peterson? Or do you think the fact the issue is that he is is not definable within one of those two camps Yeah, I think that’s the point I think that he grasps directly the fact that human beings can only actually make sense of the world by virtue of communication with other human beings and this is all about the notion of admixture that one must have a mixture of of What I mean he uses the mythopoetic to make sense the order order and chaos The way right the taoist way is the alchemical admixture of order and chaos And that’s it like that’s how you do it, and so if you bias towards orderliness You find yourself in a rigid non adaptive non creative non exploratory framework Which will die because the world changes if you bias towards chaos You you eat your young and evaporate Which also ties for obvious reasons? And the key is to actually enable these things to be in relationship with each other and vital healthy relationship with each other, and I think that’s in some sense the essence of what he’s Focusing on and instead of the core what he’s asking about Peterson is hard for the broadcast media to get a handle on Because the depth of his thought means he doesn’t fit easily into any of their categories The clash with Kathy Newman was his breakthrough a moment where the new world met the old To give the context from Kathy Newman side she has to do dozens of interviews each month Peterson is hard to get a grip on and he sure as hell looks controversial She’s also focused on getting sound bites for a five minute cut down of the interview for TV. Not a long conversation for online The interview was ridiculous. It was a ridiculous interviewing. I listen to it or watched it several times I was like this is so strange It’s like her determination to turn into a conflict – it’s one of the issues that I have with Television shows yeah, because they have a very limited amount of time, and they’re trying to make things as salacious as possible They wouldn’t have these sound bites these clickbait sound bites And she just went into it incredibly confrontational not trying to find your actual perspective But trying to force you to defend a non non realistic perspective. Yes well I was that I was the hypothetical villain of her imagination essentially. No this is also. Why YouTube is gonna kill TV Because television by its nature all of these narrow broadcast technologies they rely on forcing the story right because It has to happen now It has to happen in like often in five minutes because they only broadcast five minutes of that in interview They did put the whole thing up on YouTube to their credit It it it hasn’t ceased to amaze me yet. I think that they thought that the interview went fine after the interview Channel four News found themselves at the center of an online storm Which included some nasty personal and misogynistic attacks? It’s understandable that they just wanted it to go away But online is forever and as the center of gravity continues to shift away from traditional media this interview is I would argue a slow-motion and Continuing car crash for Channel 4’s credibility, so why did it happen? Partly the limitations of the medium of TV, but also because of the institutional political blindness of the mainstream media I’ve always considered myself of the liberal left, but especially since the election of Trump I’ve been trying to understand what happened and I’m convinced that the polarization We’re seeing is mainly driven by the shadow side of liberalism in particular where supposedly Inclusive social justice liberalism stops being inclusive and secretly judges and despises people that don’t think the same way the rebellion of Trump and brexit was a direct response as Yuri Harris argues in this article in Colet the new gatekeepers of the media have become a new bourgeoisie Enforcing a rigid etiquette and using the rights of the oppressed as an excuse to put forward a vision of the kind of society they personally want to live in on the surface level it’s about how a narrow social justice worldview embodied by Kathy Newman in the interview became the new status quo and How this institutional bias of much of the mainstream media? Means it can’t see or understand the forces that are challenging this new consensus The counterculture used to be on the left, but once it won. The culture war it left space for a new counterculture The biggest manifestation is the red pill phenomena which the mainstream media? Mistakenly assumes is the same thing as the OLT right? I was surprised to just discover the overlap between What I minute II particularly like Greek philosophy and stoicism and The alt-right who I’ve always thought of you know if I come across on the tour. I thought the most kind Swivel-eyed bogeymen you know completely unpalatable extremists in their in their basements and then to discover that You know a lot of them were a lot of people in stoicism were also really into the alt-right Made me wonder. What was going on and why? People like me were getting radicalized I’m drawn into if you explain. What stoicism is for Stoicism is basically an ancient Greek philosophy, which was became very popular in the Roman Empire You know with like the Emperor Marcus Aurelius was a stoic for example? And it’s in some ways like a Western form of Buddhism It’s like a therapy for the emotions it teaches you to take Responsibility for your thoughts to take and thereby to take some control over your emotions so in some ways it’s putting forward a model of strength and integrity and kind of resilience Amid adversity and rapid change so for that reason it’s become very popular in the last 10 years I Think this is also. Why from my perspective at least someone like Jordan Pederson Is often looked from the outside as being aligned with the alt-right because he has a similar message But it’s but there are crucial differences. I think between what we would consider I mean certainly white nationalism would be an essential part of the alt-right I would say of any useful definition, and yeah, that’s that’s certainly not characteristic of of Jordan Peterson from my experience No, there’s a crucial difference at least between stoicism and the alt-right Even though a lot of alt writers into stoicism in that stoicism, and and maybe Jordan Peterson as well I don’t know. I’m not an expert on him talk about the way to gain strength and maturity and power is Internal it’s to take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings Whilst I think people sometimes men might look for that sense of power and control externally by suppressing or Segregating anyone who they feel threatened by whether that’s other colours or other sexualities or Gender so there’s a crucial difference there one is about kind of inner Integrity and and and just kind of being strong within yourself and the other is about trying to take control through the kind of exterior I Mean every public appearance that I’ve made that’s related to the sort of topics that were discussing is overwhelmingly men It’s like it’s like eighty-five to ninety percent And so I thought wow that’s weird like what the hell’s going on here exactly, and then the other thing. I’ve noticed is that? I’ve been talking a lot to the crowds that I’ve been talking to not about rights But about responsibility right because you can’t have the bloody converse. What are you doing? You can’t have the conversation about rights without the conversation about responsibility because your rights are my Responsibility that’s what they are Technically, so you just can’t have only half of that discussion, and we’re only having half that discussion the question is well What the hell are you leaving out if you only have that half of the discussion and the answer is what you’re leaving out Responsibility and then the question is well What are you leaving out if you’re leaving out responsibility and the answer might be well, maybe you’re leaving out the meaning of life That’s what it looks like to me. It’s like here you are Suffering away, what makes it worthwhile, right? You know you’re completely. Oh, you’re completely you have no idea what you’re You it’s almost impossible to describe how bad an idea that is responsibility That’s what gives life meaning It’s like lift a load Then you can tolerate yourself right because look at your useless Easily hurt easily killed. Why should you have any self-respect? That’s the story of the fall Pick something up and carry it pick make it heavy enough so that you can think yeah well Useless as I am at least I could move that from there to there well What’s really cool about that is that when I talk to these crowds about this the man’s eyes light and that’s very good I’ve seen that phenomena because I’ve been talking about this Mythological material for a long time and I can see when I’m watching crowds people you know their eyebrows lift their eyes let light up Because I put something together for them. That’s what mythological stories. Do so I’m not taking responsibility for that That’s what the stories do so I say the story and people go click click click You know in their eyes light up, but this responsibility thing That’s a whole new order of this is that young men are so hungry for that. It is unbelievable. It just blows me away It’s like really that’s what’s that’s the counterculture? Grow the hell up and do something useful really I could do that oh I’m so excited by that idea no one ever mentioned that before it’s like rights rights rights rights Jesus It’s it’s it’s appalling. It’s and and I feel that that’s deeply felt by the people who are who are coming out to To listen to these sorts of things to they’re they’ve had enough of that So and they better have because it’s it’s a non-productive mode of being responsibility man Peterson is part of the counterculture that he describes himself as a classic liberal and yet he’s frequently Described as right-wing by the media This is not limited to Peterson James d’amours infamous Google memo was described everywhere as an anti diversity screed Despite him specifically stating he wanted to encourage more diversity in the workplace Many believe that the Channel 4 interview was a significant moment in exposing this mindset as dogmatic reactionary and fixed so during the interview we see an example of a Delusional framework that is what appears to be largely incapable of perceiving and reacting to reality in real time but much more interesting is what happened afterwards which was the sort of the self-healing and policing mechanism of the larger social consensus of how when how the blue church Reactively goes about maintaining the integrity of its frame And so what ended up happened was there was a break in the frame there was a glitch in the matrix the Mechanisms of the blue church reacted to endeavor to control the frame and to convert it into a way of sense of Making sense of the what occurred that still maintained the integrity of its frame? Do you mean when they tried to characterize it as sort of? abusive trolls and you’re right hero, and all of that exactly exactly it’s sort of a to use of a military language it was a fallback position that was a Reactive almost instinctual and not almost in fact precisely instinct was that pure habit there was no Thoughtfulness or even strategic Action there it was if if X then Y and in this case Y is. Here’s a set of things that one does to re-establish the dominant frame and Now we’re now were two levels deep you know the first. Level was a sort of self-evident disaster, but then the second level was also a relatively self-evident disaster and There isn’t really a third level In this approach so it ends up happening, and this is again. You can kind of just think about this from ordinary psychology This is how? delusions fall apart As try as we might our desire to interpret reality to mean what we wanted to mean at the end of the day. We’ll always Be checked against what reality actually is It may be some time. You know we’re pretty good at making things up and pretending, but eventually Reality is reality this isn’t to say that Peterson is not controversial He’s saying things that challenge the most deeply held assumptions of the new establishment narrative I guess the other reason that people are on My case to some degree is because I have made a strong case which I think is fully documented by the scientific literature that there Are intrinsic differences say between men and women and I think the evidence and that this is the thing that staggered me is that? No serious scientists have debated that for like four decades It’s that argument was done by the time. I went to graduate school everyone knew that human beings were not a blank slate that biological forces not Parameterised the way that we thought and and felt and acted and and and valued everyone knew that the fact that this has become somehow debatable again is just Especially because it’s being done by legislative Fiat. They’re forcing it Part of Peterson’s argument based on years of psychological research is that much of the political? Conflicts are due to try to integrate the different political temperaments of men and women we were talking about the relatively the relative evolutionary roles of men and women this is speculative obviously and and Because our research did indicate. It’s tentative research so far that that the the the SG is SJW sort of equality above all else philosophy is more prevalent among women It’s predicted by the personality factors that are more common among women so agreeable this and high negative emotion Primarily agreeableness, but in addition. It’s also predicted by being female and so I’ve been thinking about that a lot because well men are bailing out of the humanities like mad and Pretty much out of the university is except for stem the women are moving in like mad And they’re also moving into the political sphere like mad, and this is new right we’ve never had this happen before and we do know know do not know what the Significance of it is it’s only 50 years old and so we were thinking about this and so I don’t know what you think about this proposition, but imagine that that that historically speaking, it’s something like Women were responsible for distribution and men were responsible for production Something like that and maybe maybe that’s only the case really in the tight confines of the immediate family But that doesn’t matter because that’s most of the evolutionary landscape for human beings anyways what the women does did was make sure that everybody Got enough okay, and that seems to me to be one of the things that’s driving at least in part the SJW demand for for equity and Equality it’s like let’s make sure everybody has enough. It’s like look fair enough You know I mean you can’t you can’t argue with that but there’s there’s an antipathy between that and The the reality of differential productivity you know because people really do differ in their productivity I think that the SJW phenomena is different and I think it is associated at least in part with the rise of women to political power and and We don’t know what women are like when they have political power because they’ve never had it I mean there’s been queens obviously and that sort of thing there’s been female authority figures and females have Wielded far more power historically than feminists generally like to admit, but this is a different thing And we don’t know what what a truly female political philosophy would be like, but it might be Especially if it’s not been well examined And it isn’t very sophisticated conceptually it could easily be let’s make sure things you’ve distributed equally. Well, yeah Why One of Peterson’s main influences is the psychologist Carl Jung Young psychology was built around the concept of the shadow all the things about ourselves. We don’t want to accept our anger negativity Unconscious judgments, and how we need to integrate all those disowned parts to grow I’m convinced. That’s what’s happening on a vast cultural level since leaving channel 4 news I’ve retrained as a counselor and started leading personal growth workshops for men And thought a lot about how these unconscious gender dynamics are playing out in the culture One of the central concepts is Jung’s idea of animus and anima possession How each have both an inner masculine and feminine essence in? A man when he’s unconsciously possessed by his feminine side his anima he becomes withdrawn Moody and reactive and when a woman is possessed by her male side the animus she becomes aggressive and dominating and How many women are pushed into that by the nature of the modern workplace? The Kathy Newman I know is warm compassionate a successful and talented journalist none of this is criticism of her Just the role she was playing in the interview I would say technically and this is might be interesting for people who are interested in union psychology If you want to understand what Carl Jung meant by animus possession which is a very difficult concept? Then that that interview was a textbook case of having a discussion with someone who is animus possessed life has been moving forward for three and a half billion years and It moves forward in these pattered and manners like the dominance hierarchy for example, so that’s that let’s call that the masculine archetype It’s part of the masculine archetype in fact the onus Proclamation was that the female representation of the male so that’s the animus is the Dominance hierarchy it’s the patriarchy So that’s that that’s the unconscious archetype, which I think is extremely interesting given what’s happened say in the women’s movement because that’s what’s projected onto men and and It can be projected in a very negative way it doesn’t have to be but it can be and so an animus possessed woman treats a man as if he’s the Manifestation of the tyrannical patriarchy he’s a group he’s that group of men Yeah, the group of bad men actually you watched the Jordan Peterson Kathy Newman entity. What did he what did he think I? My whole body contracted, and I I felt so sad for womanhood I felt disappointed and I Could see how the shadow part of womanhood was acting out I could see how the collective rage was acting through Kathy Newman and This is what happens is that when that’s unknown its projected blindly on to Whatever stick wherever it sticks and it was very clear that she already had an agenda and she already had a projection that she was just Looking to state she was she was just looking to have that confirmed so I felt on behalf of women I felt sad and disappointed because we need to have intelligent conversations, and I also want to say that this isn’t even though the the specific example is the Kathy Newman Jordan Peterson interview, it’s not specific to – Kathy Newman I think the fact that that interview has resonated with so many people that it’s been so popular shows that actually something archetypal was going on in that in that interaction And I think as well why it’s gone viral is a lot of people watching it Recognize those dynamics. They’re like I’ve been in conversations like that I’ve been in this conversation where nothing I say works where nothing I say gets through So there’s something sort of fundamental about about the masculine feminine dynamic. That’s going on in there What do you think that is I think Jordan Peterson? He’s everyman Kathy Newman She’s every woman I can tap into that rage like this I know it in myself and women that say they don’t they’re just denying it because it is in the collective So in that sense it just highlighted what what’s that? It’s wonderful because here we really get to look at why is this so? Important why is it so important to listen to? To a thinker like Jordan Peterson and take it seriously and say what can we do with it? It’s just so obvious that it’s needed Because if this is where we are if this is where society and cultures is if this is the ability to have an intelligent conversations Conversation then we are in trouble, I really feel that there is this collective subconscious rage that is just boiling in women and it’s coming up in so many ways we see we see in the media and What’s going on is this? unknown Rage that comes up in in many different ways um And on one hand it needs to come out we need to clear it it needs to be expressed it needs to Be acknowledged on the other hand it’s not enough. This is only like this is breaking the ice So that the next step of evolution, can you know? Consciousness can start coming through and that’s what I’m lacking in women. It’s really to take responsibility for what we do as women in our Manipulation in our seduction in our control, and and it’s so easy for women to say but that’s just because we angry and men did this and patriarchy, but it’s It’s such a lack of responsibility and this Women really need to know I mean, that’s the the kind of shadow work is The acceptance that we all have shadows that men certainly have a shadow. There is a shadow around masculinity but there’s also a shadow around femininity and while part of the cultural conversation now is toxic masculinity and everyone knows what you mean by toxic toxic masculinity if You talk about toxic femininity Everyone still knows what you mean, but you can’t have that conversation Which is it’s it’s interesting? What is allowed to be said and what is not allowed to be said at the moment and that that I think is? is very Dangerous that certain topics certain conversations are off are off-limits And this is where we see where we see the victim persecutor dynamics activates it because women become the become the victims, and we make ourselves the victims and we Persecute men but in that aggression in that rage and when we are the victims. We are in perfect control we become the persecutors because we say It’s all about blame Men did this and men need to take responsibility But in that we become the persecutors, and it’s also very difficult as well because one imagines that that Combative attitude is something that has served her well in the past and it’s something that She’s maybe felt forced into because of the nature of the society that she’s operating in so it’s a kind of catch-22 situation for the many successful women because they feel that they’re pushed to be more masculine and Then when they’re more masculine they get judged for being more masculine It’s it’s very sad and and and I can see that dynamics being played out absolutely But I think the only thing we can do is to take responsibility okay? I’m doing that do I really want to compromise my femininity do I want to compromise my integrity? Do I want to compromise my gender and? Play that or is there another way that I can be powerful without being aggressive without playing a power game But resting in my natural power resting in my natural dignity Resting in that deep rootedness that we both have in our genders that When we are peace with it and when we acknowledge it in ourselves It’s there as a natural thing and and this is the thing I don’t want to make this personal about Kathy Newman Because it’s it’s in that potential is in every woman, but it’s because we are persecuting our own femininity What’s being played out that we’re doing it to ourselves because we don’t trust that it’s good enough to be a woman We don’t trust that we can have conversations that come from a felt embodied perspective. We don’t trust that we’re connected to truth because these these Masculine ways have been have been very strong and women have been denying their own power In my work over many years of working with this I find that very few women Grew up in households which really? Loved admired respected honored cherished the feminine and So there is intrinsically for so many women who’ve grown up in the I don’t know the last hundred years that say A kind of devaluation of the feminine that gets taken on and of course and as well as abuse aggression all sorts of things so very Many women out of an intelligent strategy to survive Develop their masculine side as a defense against that devaluation for the feminine and over time they become very Identified with that masculine side the male equivalent is animal possession in anima possession it’s the loss of relaxed confidence in the Groundedness in the masculine and is overwhelmed by his own inner feminine side a passive withdrawn moody bitchy Complaining not showing up kind of guy, which I think is really so much what feminists are angry about I Don’t see them as really angry about the masculine per se but it the way that Males behave, and you know I have got a lot of compassion for that Because for myself and most men that I know we weren’t really shown how to be as men We didn’t really get initiated into it and so and then this strong thing comes from feminism And we feel like it’s it’s maleness. That’s wrong, and it’s not it’s not maleness. That’s wrong. I don’t even think feminism feminists hate The masculine it’s like what the call is really for men is to develop their masculine strength presence courage be relaxed and confident be protective and be strong and Under this kind of assault which has come from a lot of animus possessed women a lot of men have retreated And I think gone into feeling guilty about being men and have become passive Indecisive and in that way a kind of feminized man has emerged Those who followed Peterson’s thought recognize his analysis goes all the way down to the bedrock to the Archetypal structures of consciousness itself the thing that I really see happening and you can tell me what you think about this in annoyance book Consciousness which is masculine symbolically masculine for a variety of reasons is is viewed as rising up? against the countervailing force of tragedy from an underlying Feminine symbolically feminine unconsciousness right and it’s something that can always be pulled back into that unconsciousness That would be the microcosm of that would be the Freudian eatable mother Familial dynamic where the mother is so over Protective and all-encompassing that she interferes with the development of the competence not only of her sons But also of her daughter of her children in general, and it seems to me that that’s the dynamic That’s being played out in our Society right now is that there’s this and it’s it’s related in some way that I don’t understand to this to this Insistence that all forms of masculine Authority are nothing, but tyrannical power so the symbolic representation is tyrannical father with no appreciation for the benevolent father and benevolent mother with no appreciation whatsoever for the tyrannical mother right and that’s that and Because I thought of ideologies as fragmentary mythologies That’s where they get their archetypal and psychological power right and so in a balanced representation you have the terrible mother and the Great Mother as Anointment laid out so nicely and you have the terrible father and the great father So that’s the fact that culture mangles you have to death well It’s also promoting you and developing you you have to see that as balanced, and then you have the heroic and adversarial individual But in the postmodern world and this seems to be something that’s increasingly Seeping out into the culture at large you have nothing but the tyrannical father nothing But the destructive force of masculine consciousness and nothing, but the benevolent Benevolent great mother and it’s a it’s an appalling ideology, and it seems to me that it’s sucking the vitality Which is exactly what you would expect symbolically, it’s sucking the vitality of our culture you see that with the increasing demolition of of young men And not only young men in terms of their academic performance Which like they’re falling way behind in elementary school way behind in junior high and bailing out of the universities like mad and so And I well the public school education it’s become completely permeated by this kind of my anti male propaganda I mean, and I need to mean public schools are just a form of imprisonment. You know right now They’re particularly destructive to young men who have a lot of physical energy You know you know I identify as transgender gay mic myself way But I do not I do not require the entire world To alter itself okay to fit my particular the self-image I do believe in The power of hormones I believe that men exist and women exist and they are biologically different. I think that I think there is no cure for the culture eles right now except if men start standing opera in demanding that they be Respected as men here’s the problem You know this is something my wife is pointed out to she said well men are gonna have to stand up for themselves But here’s the problem. I know how to stand up to a man who’s Who’s? unfairly Trespassing against me and the reason I know that is because the parameters for my resistance are quite well-defined Which is we talk? We argue? We push and then it becomes physical? Right like if we move beyond the boundaries of civil discourse We know what the next step is ok, that’s forbidden in in discourse with women So I don’t know like it seems to me that it isn’t men that have to stand up and say enough of this even though That is what they should do it seems to me that it’s saying women Who have to stand up against their crazy sisters and say look enough of that enough man-hating enough? Pathology enough bringing disgrace on us as a gender but the problem there And then I’ll stop my little tirade is that most of the women. I know who are saying are busy doing same things, right? They’re off they have their career. They have their family They’re quite occupied And they don’t seem to have the time or maybe even the interest to go after their their crazy harpy sisters And so I don’t see any regulating force for that that terrible femininity, and it seems to me to be Invading the culture and undermining the the masculine power of the culture in a way, that’s I think fatal I really do believe that I too I too believe these are symptomatic of the decline of Western culture And we and it will just go down flat. I don’t think people realize that you know Masculinity still exists okay in the world as a code among jihadists, okay? And when you have passionate masculinity, okay? Circling the borders like the Huns and the Vandals during the Roman Empire that that’s what I see I see this culture rotting from within okay, and disemboweling itself literally We have this Bit of combat let’s say It produced a scandal Now we actually talked about it Yeah No tricks just a conversation And then everybody wins right because I can admit whatever mistakes I made she can admit whatever mistakes She made we can drop the persona So you’re saying the polarization that we’re seeing right now that we are speaking out. It’s not In the future we will act out that polarization well if we don’t if we keep Accelerating it especially if we keep accelerating with lies. Yeah, you know and and this this whole channel for Rat’s nest is like 90% lies. Maybe more and You know a lot of its ideologically motivated lies, but it doesn’t matter it still lies like Kathy as I said There was virtually nothing she said in that interview that was actually Coming from her like like a deep part of her the soul of her or so it was all persona It was all persona and and and all use of words in a in a Expedient manner as tools to obtain I think probably probably status dominant status and reputation I mean what advice would you give to people to? To navigate this new world the first is for your mind. Be aware of the fact that the habits of the blue church and And how it works Don’t work anymore recognize that your way of making sense in the world that used to work Don’t work, and you really really need to set yourself free to begin learning the new child’s mind beginner’s mind second this by nature must in fact be exploratory so Swim, do not make sense prematurely in spite of the fact that the world feels dangerous inside of that you may want to protect yourself in this dangerous world Doing so too quickly did not allow the natural exploratory Approach to do what it needs to do really, just listen and Learn go all the way dad back down to human base Turn inward Learn how fear shows up in you Learn how not to allow fear to drive the choices that you make Learn how to listen to the whole way that all of you perceives. What’s going on become more integrated with your own body Go out into nature Spend a lot of time not connected to the chaos That’s going on and a lot of time Reconnecting yourself with your fundamental capacity to perceive reality in all the different modalities these human beings have the capacity to do Then relearn how to use other human beings as allies in figuring out how to make sense of the world I mean that really relearn like we have been abused and constrained by institutional frameworks that remove us from our own native capabilities So relearn that understand how to be a friend and an ally how to have a conversation with somebody where you’re really listening closely To get a sense of what their perspective brings to you where you’re not obligated to agree with them We are not obligated to move out of what you feel is right to form some new Consensus reality, but where you’re actually authentically? Recognizing that their perspective has some capacity to bring richness to your perspective This by the way is almost exclusively possible in person and what we’re doing right now is an OK version of it But we need to be very mindful the fact that Linear broadcast is bad and even interactive Bandwidth like this. It’s not good enough. You know you’ve got to learn from raw Physical and get yourself into places where your consensus reality, and your habits are willfully destroyed Human to human conversations and and get as far away from ideology as you can Your job is not to know what the fuck is going on Your job is to be absolutely certain that you have no idea what the fuck is going on and learn how to feel from raw chaos from raw uncertainty up Then and only then are you finally able to begin the journey of Beginning to form a collective intelligence in this new environment That’s my advice this is why we’ve created rebel wisdom to host these conversations to try and unpack what’s going on and through our workshops and events Start to build this collective intelligence for the future To see longer versions of the interviews featured in this film and our full-length documentary about Jordan Peterson check the rebel wisdom website Help us create more films about these subjects by sponsoring us on patreon and come to our events to have these conversations in person You

How We’ll Win The Culture War


Hi everyone, I hope you’re all well. Today’s political landscape is, for
lack of a better term, a bit of a mess. It is characterised by two
warring camps, one on the left, one on the right, plus a large group
of exasperated, disaffected centrists and moderates in the middle,
whose necks are getting increasingly sore watching the back and
forth, back and forth of the bitter ideological tennis match that is the
culture war in 2019. It started off as a few hypersensitive university
students lamenting being “triggered” over certain words and
demanding safe spaces being gently poked fun at by snarky, witty,
highly amusing, very attractive right wingers who were sick of
being told what to think and say. However, it has turned into a vicious war
of not just words, but actions. From online dogpiling, to professional sabotage,
doxing, street brawling, and even mass loss of life;
the culture war has escalated to a place it never, ever needed
to go. So, how did we get to this point? Well, before I tell you how, pretty
please make sure you like this video, subscribe to my channel if you
haven’t already, and hit that notification button. Goodness knows
what’s going on with the algorithm at the moment, so if you like my
videos and don’t want to miss any, then I’d love you to like, subscribe
and smash that notification button right…now. Thank you! Here we
go. The left will have you believe the political
tension, or “division” as they call, it is caused by racist, sexist,
bigoted conservatives spewing so called hate speech led by a man named Donald
Trump who is apparently the second coming of Mussolini. To be clear, when I say the left, I mean the
“regressive” left; the faction teetering on the extreme, who, while
making up small minority of the population, occupy a disproportionate
number of influential positions in the media, academia,
Hollywood, and big tech. This allows them to dictate the cultural narrative,
and determine what is and isn’t publicly acceptable
to talk about. The right, however, will tell you this cultural
friction is caused by the blunt refusal of the regressive left to consider
opposing opinions, as well as their vicious smearing of any opposition. After all, if you tell a
group of people, that is conservatives, often enough that their entire
moral core is questionable because they support a certain political
candidate, you’ve got to expect that maybe those people will get a
little bit angry, eventually. And considering the left’s hostility i has
amped up bigly since the election of Donald Trump, for no other reason
than they are such appallingly sore losers, it’s no wonder
we have a reached a point where certain members of the two ideological
camps are role playing at civil war. From what I have observed and experienced
over the past few years, the regressive left, with their neo-Marxist
mentality of pitting people against each other as either the oppressed
or the oppressors, seems to have made it their sole mission to inflame
these tensions. So much
that conservatives, after years of ignoring or downplaying the
provocations, are starting to react. This is quite a big deal, because conservatives
are not naturally reactionary. Conservatism is not about reacting to things
so much as conserving what is good and true and functional. Conservatives want
to create and maintain, rather than react and destroy. Leftism, on the other hand, is by definition
a reactionary ideology. They are not about building things up; they
prefer to tear things down, with no discernible plan of what to
construct in their wake. It is in their nature to poke and prod and
harangue conservatives, to proverbially stick it to the man. Funny thing is, what the regressive
left doesn’t realise is that they already won that culture war back in
the 90s, and now they are the proverbial “man” to which people are
sticking it. Considering the tendency of the right to placate
rather than react, the regressive left has been dealt a surprising
hand in recent years, with right wingers finally making it known
they are fed up with the left’s rudeness. One thing I noticed after the 2016 election
is that it always seemed to the regressive left who were
suddenly talking about this “division” in society, and
how everyone was “divided”. And I remember thinking, uh, this isn’t
a new thing; everyone has always hated you, it’s only now that people
feel empowered to say so. You could say that the regressive left is
the ideological equivalent of Mean Girls Regina George So, why am I relaying my concerns and mournful
musings about the state of the culture war? Well, because, no joke, the West is on the
brink of devouring itself. We’ve seen this multiple times with the
violence perpetrated by Antifa, and also more recently the mass loss
of life caused by right wing extremists. There are a number of people out there who
are very keen to escalate, and I think we can all agree this
needs to not happen any more than it already has. Now, I’ve seen commentary from people who
tend to be somewhere in the so-called sensible centre lamenting
the fact there is not enough listening going on; that the two sides
are failing to hear and understand each other, and that’s why there’s
so much resentment and vitriol. Well, that, I think, is a load of rubbish. Conservatives do listen to leftists, because
we have no choice. All
they do is talk, we couldn’t not listen if we tried. They are so noisy,
and as I mentioned before, occupy such a large chunk of institutions
like the media there’s literally no escaping them. And the thing is,
conservatives are happy to listen! We don’t find hearing opposing
views offensive simply because they’re opposing views. The reverse,
however, is just not true. The extreme left is more than happy to admit
they will not absorb any opposing viewpoint. That’s why they demonize outlets like Fox News and Breitbart as fascist and company. It’s so they can excuse
themselves from tuning in on moral grounds; and thus avoid the
sheer trauma of listening to people they don’t agree with. They are
also much more likely than conservatives to break off friendships
over politics. A survey taken after the 2016 US election
by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute found Democrats
were almost three times more likely than Republicans to
have unfriended someone on social media after the election. There was a similar
disparity for self-identified leftists versus conservatives. Democrat women were by far the most likely
to unfriend someone because of politics, with 30% of them saying
they had done so. This
was followed by Democrat men, at 14%, then Republican women at
10%, then Republican men at 8%. Funny how those who so rigidly
preach tolerance show the most extraordinary intolerance while
doing so, amirite? This unashamed habit of packing themselves
into echo chambers, demonizing any opposing voices as morally
repugnant, and slicing people into tribes based on arbitrary characteristics
like race and gender, is why the regressive left, not conservatives,
are responsible for the division in society. I’m calling it, there it is. And they will
never, ever, ever see it. They will never admit fault, or consider that
somehow their behaviour is less than appropriate, because
they are so sure that they are the true, pure, moral, enlightened
class. Therefore, they feel
they are justified in being as vicious and as cruel as they want to anyone who disagrees with them, because they
believe those people are not only wrong, but evil reprehensible
scum. That’s the key difference between the left
and the right. The right
think the left are naïve, but the left think the right are evil. Big and
very significant distinction. Once you understand that, you
understand the mindset that we are dealing with. There is no
measure these people will not go to in order to protect their
narrative. So, if not enough listening, at least from
the right, isn’t the problem, then what is? Well, I would say it’s not enough talking,
specifically, talking from conservatives. As I mentioned earlier, conservatives are
not naturally reactionary. We’re also, funnily enough, not interested
in engaging in conversation with people who are going to
screech RACIST at us whenever we suggest something so horribly
radical as perhaps open borders aren’t such a good idea. That is what has landed us in this mess. Because of conservatives’
totally understandable unwillingness to let their opposition screech
at them publicly about what bad people they are, the regressive left
has been led to believe that their way is objectively the correct way
of thinking and speaking. And because there is no ideological balance
in popular culture, people in the middle who are desperate to
hear a different perspective are not given a reasonable alternative. All of this has allowed the regressive left to get away with
their thuggery and intolerance, under the guise of working for
the common good. This hall pass for bad behaviour they’ve
been handed is also what causes social justice warriors to act with
such hysteria whenever they suffer a loss. They are like spoilt children; their ongoing
global tantrum over the 2016 election proves that
they’d had it their own way for so long that they’ve forgotten how
to share. They are so emotionally attached to their
political beliefs that even a hint that maybe they are wrong on one or two
things goes to the very core of their being. To admit they are wrong would be to upend
the very fibre of their identity. Because of this, and also because of the left-wing
obsession with big government, it makes perfect sense they would
stress about who is going to lead them, and which politician does
what. Again, they’re
like children; they need to be reassured that the adult authority
figure is in the room, or they’ll become anxious and act out by crying
or throwing things. Literally. Conservatives, on the other hand, do not get
emotionally attached to our political beliefs, or at least not as
attached. This is, again, the
nature of conservativism. We don’t like big government. We would
prefer politicians to have as little to do with our lives as possible. Unlike the extreme left, we don’t look to
politicians for moral guidance; that’s what religious and community
leaders or family members are for. As such, whenever our political parties lose,
we shrug it off with an oh well, let’s work harder and win next
time. We do not need
therapy dogs and play dough and colouring books to get over the
appalling traumatic experience of losing an election. So, what’s the solution to all of this craziness? How do we generate
not necessarily a more conservative society, but a more balanced
one? A cultural zeitgeist where everyone feels
they can express their views without fear of losing relationships,
or having their reputation destroyed? Well, conservatives need to start finally
speaking up. It is very important we challenge the noisy
regressive leftists in our lives, but not for the reasons you think. It’s not to change their
minds; that’s not going to happen. The only way a social justice
warrior will seriously consider other viewpoints is if they go on their
own personal journey of soul searching. You won’t convince them of
anything. But, you can convince those who may witness
the discussion. To borrow from the Gospel according to Ben
Shapiro, never argue privately with a leftist. Always do it with an audience. They are the
ones you are going to persuade. Some of the best advice I ever got
when I was starting out on this journey of culture warrior-dom in
2017 was from my editor. Before I did my first TV panel gig, he said
to me, don’t go in there trying to win an argument. That’s not your job. Your job is to present
a particular perspective in an entertaining and interesting way, not
for the other panellists or the studio audience, but for the people at
home. Those are the people you are going to influence. The same is true in your own lives, without
cameras and studio audience. While you probably won’t influence your
opposition, they’ll be too busy hand-flapping and calling
you a bigot or something, you will influence your audience. Donald Trump embodies this. Yes, while he may be brash, and
seemingly spontaneous, and rude, and crude, he is what you would
call the first wartime president during the Culture War. That
brashness, while not typically conservative, is what is needed. Until Trump, the left has been the only side
actually fighting for what they value, and what a dirty, dirty fight
they have put up. And while
conservatives pride themselves on being dignified, and polite, and
not at all reactionary, that strategy hasn’t worked. Trump, for all his wonderful flaws, is actually
fighting that Culture War, using the left’s own tactics against
them. He is calling them out
at their own game, using words, not violence, and while he won’t
change their minds, he is proving to the silent masses just how
unscrupulous, disingenuous, and power-crazed the regressive left
actually is. His strategy, while unorthodox and uncomfortable,
is working. And yes, I know regressive leftists are aggressive,
I know they will denigrate and mock you, I know it is intimidating. But it is so
important we do engage with them to somehow swing the
pendulum of acceptable public dialogue to a happier medium, even if they cast you as the villain. Sometimes, you have to be ready to
play that villain to get the message across.

America | Bernie Sanders


♪ hmm hmm hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm ♪ ♪ hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm-hmm ♪ ♪ Let us be lovers, we’ll marry
our fortunes together ♪ [ cheering ] ♪ I’ve got some real estate
here in my bag ♪ ♪ Counting the cars
on the New Jersey turnpike ♪ ♪ They’ve all come
to look for America ♪ [ cheers and applause ] ♪ All come
to look for America ♪ ♪ All come
to look for America ♪ ♪ All come
to look for America ♪ I’m Bernie Sanders,
and I approve this message.

Why a wave of women in politics hasn’t happened yet | Politics Explained


First there was Julia Banks’ shock defection to the crossbench. Then Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer announced she wouldn’t seek reelection. And then it was Julie Bishop – one of the
most electorally popular members of the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party were losing women left, right and centre. And the ones who stuck around weren’t pulling any punches on the challenges of being a female MP. You’d have thought we’d learnt something
in the last 117 years. You see – Australia was among the first countries in the world to grant women the vote. White women were granted the vote way back in 1902, a year after Australia stopped being a bunch of colonies under the British empire, and started being an independent country. Unless you were Aboriginal, that is. Aboriginal men and women were forced to wait until 1962 before they were granted full rights to vote in federal elections. The right to vote came hand-in-hand with the right to stand for office. And despite that, it would take four decades before we actually had any women in Parliament. That was in 1943, when Enid Lyons was voted into the House of Reps, and Dorothy Tangney into the Senate. They were groundbreakers, elected while women in other parts of the world – like France and Italy – were still fighting for the right to have their voices heard. Given our impressive history, we must be absolutely killing it in the equality stakes now… right? Mmm, not quite. Unfortunately, women in Australia have a
long way to go before we reach parity in federal politics. Only one in three parliamentarians at a federal level are women. The big question is why? Women in politics – and especially those in leadership positions – have often been the target of criticism that’s based more
on their gender than their policies. “Which – If I can finish now.” *meows* “Oh yes, why don’t you meow when a women does that?” “Ah, I think I can say (they) have a bit of sex appeal.” “He confirmed that he had yelled ‘You should stop shagging men, Sarah’.” “Shocked, I told him he was a creep. His reply was to tell me to ‘F… off’.” You can see why maybe politics isn’t an
attractive option for a lot of women. Working in Parliament isn’t exactly an easy ride, and the hours and demanding workload are especially difficult if you have small
kids. Back in 2009, Sarah Hanson-Young was ejected from the Senate for bringing her two-year old in with her because her toddler was deemed a “visitor”. In fact, it wasn’t until 2016 that parents
were allowed to bring infants into the chamber. Greens Senator Larissa Waters gave multitasking a whole new meaning, when she breastfed her daughter while addressing the Senate in 2017. But what if we applied a bit of a heavier hand to fixing gender disparity in Parliament? Labor’s paving the way using quotas – that
is, affirmative action where a percentage of seats or candidates are set aside for women or other under-represented groups. They’re different from targets, which
are aspirational rather than set in stone. Back in 1994, Labor announced it would set aside 35 per cent of winnable seats for female candidates. That was later increased to 40 per cent, with a target of parity by 2025. They’re pretty close – right now about 46 per cent of federal Labor parliamentarians are women. “There are seven women now in Cabinet.” “That is the highest number of women ever in a Federal cabinet in Australia.” Scott Morrison may be playing up the number of women in his cabinet, but the Liberal party itself isn’t doing so well. It has half the rate of women as the Labor party – 23 per cent. “I have no problem filling seven slots for women in my cabinet and potentially more, because I have so many great women to choose from.” The Nats fare even worse – only 2 of their
21 Federal parliamentarians – or 9 per cent – are women, as they themselves acknowledge. “Both the women in my party – Bridget McKenzie, my deputy leader, and Michelle Landry – are ministers.” About half the world uses quotas or designated seats for women. The country that’s leading the way isn’t one you’d expect. In the 1990s, Rwanda was in the middle of a bloody civil war, and fewer than one in five parliamentarians were women. After the bloodshed the country drew up a
new constitution, and in it proposed a bold new initiative – that 30 per cent of seats should go to women. In 2019, that’s more than doubled. So we know that quotas have an impact. Why then is there so much opposition to them? It boils down to this: “I believe in any political organisation it
should be a matter of one’s own Merit. The concern is that by promoting someone based on their gender, they’re not choosing the best person for the job. But when you look back at some of the behaviour women in Parliament have been subjected to in recent years, it’s worth asking ourselves if the current system really is choosing the best people for the job. “Peace out.”

Metiria Turei talks art and life after politics | Two Sketches with Toby Morris: Metiria Turei


– So you used to knit in the
House sometimes too right? – Definitely in parliament
’cause it was just like, “Oh god these people
are driving me insane.” (laughing) – It can go on a bit sometimes. – Yeah, can you all just shush! (gentle music) – All right, cool, well thank you so much for having us in your space. – It’s all good. – I’m really excited about doing this one. I think it’s gonna be fun. – I hope so. – I think we’re doing something a bit different today, right? You’re gonna do some stitching? – Yeah. I’m not much of a drawer,
but I am a stitcher. So I figured it might be
kinda similar… different. – I feel like it’s in
the same world, yeah. – Yeah, it is. – I think the definition of
drawing is pretty broad, right? Did you have an idea of
what we could be working on? – So I’m quite keen on
old lady superheroes. – OK, sure. – That’s my kind of… – [Toby] Cool. – thing at the moment. So are you up for that? – Old lady superheroes,
that sounds good, yeah. – Old, old is important. – OK cool, I’m thinking of my, when I think of the old
lady I think of my gran. For me she was someone that showed me lots about art actually,
funny that you bring it up because she’s really
interested in sculpture. And she lived in Auckland,
we used to visit her and she used to be always taking me to cool sculpture exhibitions
each time I came to visit her. I think she probably saw
that I was interested in that stuff so it was kind of the thing that we connected over. – Well that’s awesome. – Yeah, so what are you going to stitch? – I will stitch… what could
be one of her superpowers. – OK. – How’s that sound? – Amazing, I love it,
that sounds fantastic. What a great idea. (gentle guitar music) (pencil scratching) So you’ve been an activist and a lawyer and an MP and then the
co-leader of the Green Party. And these days you’re an artist. How do you introduce yourself these days? (laughs) – Actually I’m trying to
use the word artist more and get used to it in my mouth. I remember that when I was co-leader, yeah when I was co-leader of the Greens and people would ring up for interviews and I’d have to say what my job was and I’d always giggle, like say co-leader and then giggle like a dork- – Can’t quite believe it. – Yeah, trying to get
used to the word artist, I think that’s good. – Were you interested in art as a kid? – Yeah I used to make a lot of stuff. Just like with boxes and
glue and stuff like that. But I never really thought I was arty, if you know what I mean. – Right. – I just was always making stuff. I’d sew and knit and glue stuff together. – And it sounds like it was a
somewhat creative environment. – Yeah, I mean my mother was um, still is, she’s incredibly creative. So she weaves and has
always knitted and stuff. So she taught us how to do it. So she was always really into it. – But it was not like a career option at that stage when you were a kid? – No, no, no, no. I never thought that
would be the sort of thing I would wanna do. I did want to be a Solid
Gold dancer at one point. – Cool. – ’cause who wouldn’t? – Who wouldn’t? Yeah that sounds pretty fun. Fairly early on you were into
activism and stuff right? – Yes, I got politically
kind of active in the 80s, about 17 or 18. Started getting involved with the unemployed rights movement then. Which was really big, it was heating up. There was a big surge in unemployment after Labour’s economic
reforms in the 80s. That was the politicisation
process, if you like, for me – kind of trying to understand how law and politics affects ordinary life. Unless people are talking to
you about this sort of thing or you live in that environment it’s really hard to see how
those things are connected. And when you do, it’s just
like, fucking fight the power, like, the bastards. So you just kinda get
quite into it, well I did. But it was very real because people were really
doing it hard, you know. And so it felt like that we were actually on the side of the angels
trying to make good change. Actually I’m ready to stitch I think now. – Yeah? – Yeah. – Cool, OK, let’s do it. – Can we move this thing? – Get rid of the board? – I mean it’s a really cool drawing thing and I can totally see why
you would have one but… – You gotta do your thing. I’m looking forward to
seeing how this all works. – Thank you. – Look at that. – Oh sweet as. – [Toby] You got threads there. – So I was involved in unemployed rights a little bit in Wellington
and a bit in Palmerston North with the Workers Unemployed
Rights Centre there. And it was a movement that
was supported really well by the unions because we
were supporting workers who had been made unemployed. So our job was to advocate for them. I was also involved with
this fantastic group of anarchist women, The Random Trollops. And we went travelling around the country and doing heaps of
anarcha-feminist performance stuff. – Oh OK. – Yeah, which was really cool and I was doing heaps of the costuming. – Yeah, right, OK. That sort of ties back to
what you’re doing these days. – Yeah, so we just liked
creating a hell of a mess. But making all sorts of fabulous costumes. Devil costumes and cactus costumes and all sorts of stuff. – So that was sort of part theatre and part activism kind of work? – Yeah there were some
really powerful women involved at the time,
people like Val Smith and Katie Julian and a
whole bunch of others. – I was friends with all these guys so we just started doing performances. – What does a Random Trollops
performance look like? What happens? – Well… (laughs) it was eclectic and so we did
our opening kind of showpiece was this thing that involved
a meditation tape and a lot of screaming on our part. The meditation tape was
playing at one point and a lot of screaming
just slightly afterwards. Which was very cathartic, as it turns out, that whole screaming therapy is actually a good idea for lots of good reasons. We did things with Devilettes. We did a great one once
with poor old Nándor, this is in the earlier years, (laughs) Called Satanic Sex, where
we got him on stage, I think he was pretty famous then, I don’t think he was an MP
but he was pretty famous, and wrapped him head to toe in Glad Wrap, danced around for a while, gave everyone a lesson on safe sex. Safe satanic sex. (laughing) And then left him on stage. – Amazing. – And, I don’t know, we
all just went off stage, got ready for the next bit but he had plastic all
over his face, yeah. And somebody from the audience
had to go and rescue him. – Excellent. – Yeah, and what they did,
just like made a little hole for him to breathe in and
left him on the stage. Apparently, he just bounced off ’cause he was completely wrapped up. Yeah, stuff like that. – Amazing, it sounds lots of fun. – It was like slightly dangerous. But it was really fun. (soft guitar music) – I was gonna ask about
the McGillicuddies too, – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Like the first time you ran
was for the McGillicuddies? – Yeah, yeah. – Which seems like a
combination of like the sort of parliamentary politics on the one hand and art and activism on the other hand. Seems like McGillicuddy
sits in the middle of that quite nicely as well. – Yeah, I guess they do actually, ’cause they were, you know
they were a political movement all about the farce of
parliamentary politics and the farce of that whole system. But also, incredibly creative. It was such a great
way to explore politics in a way that was, you know, was relevant and used all of the skills
that I’d developed as part of the unemployed rights movement stuff but was also fun and light enough so you didn’t feel like you’d
just been kind of in this turgid, anti, kind of
conflict-ridden state all the time, which was really good. – Right, I guess activism can get sort of this aggressive side to
it or an angry side to it, I suppose… doing things in a fun way,
there’s value in that too. – Yeah, and like just being
prepared to take the piss, like one of the things, we
treat politics very seriously ’cause it has a really serious effect, but it’s also a ridiculous
system that we create ourselves so we impose all these rules on ourselves and then get pissed about them. There is an element of, you
know, societal agreement that this is the system that we have – Right. – And it’s not perfect. – That you can poke fun at it sometimes. – Yeah, you can. Yeah, you
don’t have to take it seriously all the time. You can actually have a bit of a laugh. – Well it seems like such
a jump from that world to fast-forward a few years and suddenly you’re in parliament. – Parliament. – How did that come about? What was the inspiration
that made you get involved with the Greens and start
taking politics more, in the conventional sense, more seriously? – Being useful, I’ve
always liked being useful. And when I got my first law job in 99, but I also got married and whole lot of other stuff was going on, so it was my year of political silence and I decided I would do no politics, I’d have some fun but
even then the fun stuff I had to keep to a minimum ’cause I really just needed to focus on… – Just get life things running, yeah? – Working. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it was also the 99 elections where the Greens got elected and Nándor got elected
and Sue got elected. – Sue Bradford? – Yeah, Sue Bradford.
People I’d worked with and friends I’d known
for a long, long time. And I was like, “What a shit
year for political silence”. (laughs) – But after that, (laughs) In 2000, almost immediately
afterwards, Nándor rang and asked if I would get
involved with the Greens because the Greens were
looking at doing some stuff on their Māori policy and
particularly on how it is that a Pākehā organisation can
have an authentic approach to this stuff. It’s all good having something
in your constitution, but how do you make it real. And it’s taken really hard work. So I got involved ’cause it
seemed like something I could do that was useful and it
was a good group of people and it just kind of kept going from there. So I joined in February of 2000, and then I became an MP in 2002. So it was all pretty quick. – Did that involve some
political compromises? or personal compromises? Joining parliament, a sort
of toning down or something? Did you feel like you had to do that or? (laughs) – Yeah, I mean I thought I did, I wasn’t necessarily very good at it. (laughs) I got into big trouble on
the steps of parliament, the very first protest. 2002 had been an election based on race and there was, New Zealand First was going
around being really hideous. And so there was this big
protest at parliament about it and so I stood on the steps of parliament and I said, “We Māoris have
more in common with immigrants than we do with our colonial oppressors”. And everyone was like, “Yeah!”. Except for everybody who I
worked with were like, “Oh god”. (laughs) It was probably a little on
the nose but you know, ah well. Yeah no I got into trouble for that. People were writing me letters like, threatening to cut my head
off and boil it in pots. I know, it was like, full-on. – Proper intro to like all of New Zealand. (laughs) I really didn’t think that
was really that controversial, but the activism was really essential ’cause what it did was
gave me a chance to see how the interface between the
parliament and communities. I mean I’d done some of that, I’d written submissions and
things as an activist and presented select committees
and that sort of thing before, but to be on the other
side too it meant that I had a better idea about
how maybe to treat people or when people come and
they tell you something at select committee, it’s a
little bit easier to understand what they’re trying to tell you, even if the words aren’t quite
right that they’re saying, to actually understand
where they’re coming from ’cause I’d been on that side of it. – Yeah, I was gonna ask you about that, whether having been on both sides of it would inform the way
you acted in parliament? – Yeah, totally, totally. And really importantly, I
just think that if you don’t, if you’ve only been on the
privileged side of these things then of course you’re only
ever gonna understand, you’re only gonna understand
the community you belong to, really. And so people who come from privilege who are exercising that power
there are only gonna see it in terms of assisting with
the maintenance of privilege. But also, from my point of view, sometimes when I reflect back
on this a bit it’s like, well, did I take enough opportunity
to work with people that were really different
from me in order to get gains and stuff and I don’t know that I did. Because I also had come from
an oppositional community, right? So that’s how I kind
of approached the exercise of power in there. – That it’s you against
the man or whatever. – Yeah, yeah. So I was sort of inside my
own silo, to some extent. Just like the people who
have privilege who were. (soft guitar music) – One other thing that I think
of when I think of your time was in 2015 when you led
a walkout of woman MPs out of the House… – Ah, yeah yeah. So in a fight
between National and Labour in the House one day, John Key accused Labour of
supporting rapists and murderers, it was a shitty thing to say. – Question number four, Metiria Turei. – Thank you Mr Speaker. My question is to the
prime minister and asks, Does he stand by his statement,
“Well, you back rapists”. – [Speaker] The right
honourable prime minister. – Mr Speaker, yes. – There were points of order I think, at the time or just after,
about, in the Chamber, asking him to withdraw and apologise and he wouldn’t. And the speaker wouldn’t make him because he didn’t consider it
to be an offensive statement to make, but actually it
was incredibly offensive, because, especially because
he was talking about the opposition as a
whole, not just Labour, but he was talking about all
people who were on that issue. It’s like, well you’re talking to people who have actually been
victims of sexual assault that they are now supporters of rapists. – So it’s not a term you
throw around lightly. – No you can’t just throw it
around, and it was offensive. So I went down into the Chamber after thinking about it for a while and made a point of order at question time that I took personal
offence to the statement as a victim of sexual assault. – Point of order, Metiria Turei. – Sir, the prime minister
has consistently supported his statement of yesterday, he
has essentially reconfirmed- – [Speaker] Order,
order can I just, order. – I ask that he be made to
apologise and withdraw because I have taken personal offence
as a victim of sexual assault. – Order, order. – I remind the member when I
stand, it’s time for the member to cease speaking. That’s not a point of order. The prime minister’s answer has said nothing that is
unparliamentary in that answer. – We were trying to get
the speaker to understand that it was an offensive
statement to make. You know, you can’t call anybody racist. There’s lots of words you
can’t use in parliament with other people. – It’s not a theoretical
thing, it’s actually, here’s a real effect on people’s lives- – Yeah that’s right, so maybe
if we were saying to him, we know what that experience is, can you not see how offensive it is? But he refused. The speaker refused to
make John Key apologise. John refused to apologise, and so a whole lot of
women stood up and said, took the same point of order,
and we were all kicked out. – As a victim and survivor
of family violence and an advocate for victims of violence, I take personal offence at the comments of the prime minister – [Speaker] Order, order no
we’re now getting to the stage when there could be a series
of these points of orders. Jan Logie, point of order. – As a victim of sexual assault and an advocate for survivors,
I would ask that record be- – [Speaker] Order, order, order. – As a victim of sexual assault- – [Speaker] Order, order, order. – I take personal offence
and would like to ask for personal explanation
from the prime minister. – Order, order. Member
will resume her seat. – As a trustee of the
Waikato Women’s Refuge Te Whakaruruhau, I take personal offence at the comments- – Order, order the Member
will resume her seat. – As a victim of sexual violence… – [Speaker] Order, order, the
member will leave the Chamber. – They were incredibly brave
and amazing, those women, actually to stand up and be prepared to be counted like that. It was a personally very
revealing thing to do, but at the same time, these issues have to be
made real in the parliament, they are not obscure,
intellectual points of argument. – So it’s not a theoretical
thing, it’s a real life… – No, it’s not. It’s real, real life. And there are people, not just women too, there’ll be men in that Chamber who have suffered a sexual assault as well and the whole concept of that just can’t be treated that lightly. He made a big mistake. – Yeah, you must’ve
been watching the stuff that’s been going on recently, inquiry into bullying
in parliament and stuff, and it’s very relevant to that. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Seeing that that was, that now that’s sort of
coming out a little bit they seem to be going through
a process of self-examination of is this a healthy
workplace or is this a… – Oh it’s so good, it’s such a good thing for them to be doing, and I know it’s really tricky
and there’s issues with, but there always will be, it’s never gonna a perfect
inquiry and there never can be. But there are all sorts
of stories all the time about behaviour. Not necessarily sexual shenanigans or sexual assault behaviour,
but just aggressive, shitty behaviour and yeah,
MPs are, to a large degree, protected by the rules and
it’s a hard one to figure out how to both protect people politically as well as protect
victims of actual assault. – Have a healthy workplace. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Yeah, it seemed like along with, there was lots of conversations, like, “Well that’s just the nature
of it, it’s a competitive place with strong-willed people, and
people are gonna butt heads”. But it seemed like, there
must be a line where… – That’s not butting heads. (laughs) – Yeah, there’s definitely
a line, and the fact that they’re being prepared to
look at it for real was good. Was really good. – And the 2017 election, without
getting into it too much. (laughs) – ‘Cause like it totally sucked. Yeah sorry, carry on. (laughs) – Obviously it was a rollercoaster
for all New Zealanders, like it was a very, twists and turns and a million different things happening. To you, what’s the one, do you have one sort of
enduring memory of that time? – Far too many is probably the answer. We got the highest poll
the Greens have ever had in the week after my speech. I think that something had to happen to make a change of
government a possibility, a real possibility. And nothing was gonna change
because everybody was just running the election like
it’s always the same old. – Same old thing everyone always says. – Yeah, yeah. And even
then, it was really close. So, yeah. I’m proud of the speech. I’m really proud of the
speech and always will be. I think it was absolutely
the right thing to do and always will, always will. And I’m proud of the
activism that it created and the conversation it created. Like, you know Sam, he did an amazing job. – Yeah, that was directly
a result of that. – Yeah out of taking all of that passion and turning it into
something really concrete, and that’s what needed to happen ’cause those people
hadn’t been heard at all for such a long time. So, as traumatic as it
was for a ton of us, the outcome that I wanted was achieved. – It seemed to me anyway,
as an outside observer, that you came to represent a
voice for women and for Māori and for people that might not necessarily have so much of a voice,
beneficiaries or… – [Metiria] Yeah. – Was that something that was present in your mind at the time? – Oh, always. Every day. Yeah, there’s no point me being
there if it’s not for them. I mean, it’s great, it was a great job and I really appreciated having the job and all the things that having a job for that long period of time delivers. And you can get selfish,
I think, inside there. But I never wanted to do that. – Right, that you’re
looking out for your career rather than the people
you’re representing. Easy to get that mixed up… – I think I’m a perfect
demonstration of not doing that. (laughs) Not putting my career first. (laughs) Just sayin’ (laughs) – And following the election, you obviously had a
massive life change, right? – Oh my god, I slept for like two months. I tell ya, if you ever
get a chance to do this and people don’t, generally, but being able to sleep any time you want for as long as you like
is just like oh my god. – That sounds incredible. – It was really amazing, yeah. So there was that. And after that, after I woke
up and stopped sleeping, yeah there was quite a big change. (soft guitar music) I came to art school
’cause it was something I always wanted to see
if I was any good at, like I’ve been doing
stitching and knitting and making for such a long time, and I was trying to think, well OK so I don’t wanna
go straight into politics, I’m not going to run for local government. I’m not gonna any of those kinda, I’m not gonna be a consultant for someone in terms of lobbying, I
don’t wanna do any of that. I want a clean break. – Right, or get back into
law was not appealing? – Well no it was a possibility and I do work in the law now sort of, I’m a research fellow at the university. So I work at the Faculty
of Law here, part-time. But I really wanted to try
and learn something new. One of the things that I tried
very hard to do at parliament which I just failed at
dismally, was to try to find a new way of thinking
about parliamentary work, like a design thinking,
which is now a thing that was not a thing then. But I’m always looking for new
ways of thinking about stuff and new ways of doing things, so I thought, “Oh well, this
is a chance to do something completely different”. So I didn’t have a portfolio
really or anything, but they were like, “Ah
yeah come and have a go”. So I did my graduate diploma
in visual art last year. And it was fantastic, like it’s just, it’s really scary doing something
completely new like this. The making isn’t new but
having people look at it and try to assess whether it’s any good, that’s all new. – Yeah. – Thinking about being an
artist is completely new. But I kinda thought, “Well if I don’t think about it like art, ’cause it’s a bit freaky, but think about it as
communication but with things not with words”. Then that kind of made more sense. My political work and my creative work have all been around people, like people are really important to me. So doing garment-based textile art means that I can put people really
centre in the work I’m doing. With the Tūruapō work there
was three Māori women, two old goddesses, Kurangaituku, and then a younger woman, the Astronesian, the first Polynesian in space. With her moko kauae and stuff. They needed to be embodied like the things without the person inside
them, there’s no conversation, I don’t think there’s a
conversation to be had. The next piece of work I’m doing is for the Tuia 250… oh that’s a bit messy, Tuia 250 protest exhibition, which is in November, and that too is about the
three Māori babies a week who are stolen by Oranga Tamariki. Which I’m furious, but
I’m trying not to talk, – [Metiria] I’m trying to make. So, yeah. And that will
be based on the women, on the mothers. And again, it’s a way of, I need to put those women into the piece. These garments will be wearable, even though they’ll be hung
without a person in it, obviously. – But they’re about, sort of
for people and about people? – Yeah, they’re for
people about the people. So they need to be able to have
a relationship with the body and a very direct one. I don’t think I could make
anything that couldn’t be worn. ’cause I just don’t feel like,
it’s not properly activated, it doesn’t exist in the real… – Like it’s living or something? – Yeah, yeah, yeah. For me anyway. I know other
people do it differently. But I need the person inside. – It seems like lots of
the themes of your work now are similar to the themes
of your political career. Like it’s still kind of the
same things that you care about, it’s just sort of a different
means to the same ends. – Yeah, ’cause I’ve been trying very hard not to speak politically but
to do art in a political way. Or at least with some political ideas. The work Tūruapō Astronesian
work is all about Māoris being self-determining and in space, ’cause there’s the whole
Afrofuturism thing took off last year with Black Panther and it’s a fantastic theory
like a creative theory to be part of where
black people are centred in the universe, they’re
centred in technology and have absolute self-determination, and it’s not that you ignore your history, for them in terms of the Middle Passage, and for us here in terms of colonisation, but that you totally recreate
the future for yourself. – That’s a super exciting idea, yeah. (laughs) – It really is, it really, really is. ‘Cause it means that
everything that you’ve suffered becomes a skillset that you’ve learnt, and that’s how you treat your experience and I think that was just like so cool. – Looking back now at when you
watch the news or whatever, do you feel a sense of relief
that you’re out of that world? Or do you miss it? – Yes and no. So some days I miss it, when I see people who are
doing certain jobs and think, “No you’re doing a shit one”. (laughs) “Honestly, we fought really
hard to get you fullas in government, can you
please just do it properly?” I really like shouting
at the telly, it’s great. Just like “ugh!” And
the radio, it’s awesome. But I wouldn’t go back. Being able to wake up in your
own bed and live your own life and not be in such an
aggressive environment is just so fantastic. And plus I just think too, there’s a time where you make your
contribution and you move on. It’s not a job for life that one. I mean OK, for Winston, all right OK. (laughs) We get some, yeah. But they’re doing good,
they’re doing good. The new generation of
MP is a whole new beast and thankfully so. – Yeah, so you’re not in direct
contact with those people on a day-to-day basis? – Not on a day-to-day
basis, oh god that would be, might as well still be employed by them. (laughs) – True, yeah, yeah. – For my own head’s sake, I
need to not be doing the job, even by remote, because other
people have got my job now. Must say they’re doing
a fantastic job, Marama. Other people are doing my job
and they just don’t need me grumping from the backroom. It’s a hard enough job to do anyway, and two, I really do need to step away… – It’s a new time? – Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve
always been pretty good at that kind of compartmentalisation. (laughs) But also I just think there’s a time, you can’t just do shouting
from the background and expect that you’ll be able to
move on yourself, you know. Yeah, so that’s fine. – A very healthy approach. (laughs) – I hope so, I hope so. Yeah, and I’ll tell you what, semi-retired life is not too bloody bad. I mean I’m really pleased with the resilience of the
organisation, actually. Which sounds a bit nerdy, but when you’ve led an
organisation for a very a long time you want it to be real strong, and they are so that’s great. They’re in government and
they’re doing amazing things, just like we always promised we would and that’s marvellous. (soft piano music) Oh. My clitoris has fallen off Stay put. You need to stay put for like
as long as it takes to fix me, fix you. – So I think I’m done, you ready? – Yeah. (laughs) – Yeah. Yes yes, I’m ready. Say yes, lean forward. – All right so here’s my… (laughs) – Here’s my gran Pam. – Ah she’s got like a cape and everything. (laughs) – Yeah I couldn’t picture
her being that different being a superhero, you know,
I figured it’s just her. But I thought maybe the
shawl flying is a bit her… – Yeah it totally is. – Cool. – Ah she’s gorgeous. All right. So I’ll show you mine now. – Yeah, I’m looking
forward to seeing this. I can’t wait. – It’s granny’s fanny. – Amazing. (laughs) I love it. – And her secret superpower. – Is that teeth? – That is teeth, it’s
called vagina dentata. – Yep, powerful. – Powerful, that’s right, yeah. – Out of which life is made,
just think, you come from this. (laughs) Into the world. – Yeah that’s so awesome. – There you go. – Thank you so much, that’s
amazing to sit and chat today. Thank you very much for
inviting us into your space and thanks for being so open
with us about everything. – It’s all good. – It was a great chat. It was so nice. – Yeah it was fun, thank you. – Lovely. (soft guitar music) (soft instrumental music)

“Mothering Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by Anne K. Mellor


Welcome to the Ian Fletcher Memorial
Lecture, an annual event honouring Ian’s focus in the fields of
Victorian and 19th Century Studies. One of my small regrets about being
at ASU, and I had few of those, is that I never got a chance to
meet Ian, and after talking with Allan and others, he sounded like
a positively marvelous man, and practically everybody who has ever
come into this lecture knows his work well. I thank you for finding time
to attend this event at the end of a busy and rather complicated
semester for everybody. I am truly honoured to introduce this evening’s
speaker, Anne K. Mellor, Distinguished Professor of Romantic Literature,
Women’s Studies, and Art and Literature at UCLA. Anne received her
BA from Brown University, and her MA and PhD in Comp. Lit. from Columbia
University. I first encountered Anne’s work while writing my MA
thesis on William Blake, through her groundbreaking study titled,
“Blake’s Human Form Divine,” which served to reorient Blake’s studies,
and that work cast long shadows over my own Blakean efforts, and
still reads as fresh today as when it first emerged in spite of your claims.
For example, whenever I write on Blake, I return to my heavily
annotated copy of her stunning book first. After the Blake book,
she published a wide range of work that have literally revolutionized
romantic studies including English romantic irony, romanticism and
gender, romanticism and feminism, and Mothers of the Nation, Women’s
Political Writing in England, 1780 to 1830. Anne’s work, more than
any other scholar, led to the resurrection and subsequent resurgence
of important studies of neglected women writers, and broke forever the
“big six” approach to the field that dominated before her emergence.
This effort peaked with the production of the best anthology
of romantic studies currently available–British Literature 1780 to
1830, and for those of you who are taking my class this summer, it’s
the textbook that we’re using. Other works followed as her scope widened,
including forging connections, women’s poetry from the renaissance
to romanticism, and passionate encounters in a time of sensibility.
She also edited Mary Willstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of
Women, and Muriah and the Wrongs of Women as well as other works. Of
course, what I’ve neglected so far, are the works that intersect the
topic of today’s talk on Mary Shelley. She offered Mary Shelley her
life, her fiction, her monsters, and she co-edited approaches to
teaching Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the other Mary Shelley beyond Frankenstein.
She also produced editions of Frankenstein and the Last Man.
Through this work, she established herself, to state the
matter directly, as the world’s leading authority on the life and work of
Mary Shelley. Her efforts in the profession could function as the
prototype for an exemplary career. She serves on the editorial boards on
the most important journals in my field and beyond, including the
MLA, European Romantic Review, 19th Century Contexts, 19th Century
Literature, and Women’s Studies. She has directed 3 NEH summer seminars,
and has received 2 Guggenheim fellowships. She has also garnered
fellowships from the American Council Learning Society, the NGH, and Rockefeller.
In recognition of her energetic recasting of the field
of romantic studies, she received in 1999, the highest award offered
in my field–the Keats-Shelley Association Distinguished Scholar Award.
However, Anne’s most important achievement, I would argue, actually
doesn’t appear in any of her publications and awards. She has
been a tireless champion of emerging scholars, and has mentored two
generations of students into our profession with an energy and intensity
that continues to ripple through her diverse fields of endeavor. Brief
sidenote, when I was looking up stuff just to make sure that I had
everything right, the Google search continues forever. After the first
five pages, it’s simply books by young scholars, established scholars,
older scholars in which she’s got essays, or people are citing her.
I finally gave up at 14 pages in, I hope you don’t mind. I mean
this sincerely, she is beloved by literally everyone in my field as
no other scholar before her, so please join me in welcoming Professor
Anne Mellor, whose talk this evening is entitled, “Mothering
Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” I just want to show you a
few images of some of the people I’m going to be
talking about tonight so that you have some visual
record of them, and then we’ll come to the text
of Frankenstein itself. This is William Godwin. William Godwin was
the leading philosopher in the late 18th century of political theory. He’s the man
who invented the concept of anarchism. He also was the man who
argued that human beings could become perfect,
could become gods, if they followed reason above all. And he
is of course, the father of Mary Shelley. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, author of
the Vindication of the Rights of Women. Leading feminist of the day. The woman
who argued, really for the first time, that boys and girls should receive exactly
the same education, that women were as capable of rational thought as were men,
and that the ideal marriage, which she entered into with William Godwin, would
be based on compatibility, affection, perhaps not quite as much sexual desire as
goodwill. In fact, Mary Wollstonecraft’s notion of the perfect marriage is, first,
you find the perfect roommate, and then after that, sex can be really exciting,
but you gotta find a good roommate first. This is the most famous portrait
of Mary Shelley, daughter of Godwin and Wollstonecraft,
christened Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, done in her late 40s.
At the age of 16, she elopes with the married poet Percy Shelley.
He abandons his wife and two children to go off to Europe with her.
This is an image of her in her early 20s, a
little after she completed Frankenstein, which she started
writing when she was 18 years old, so those of you who are over
18, you gotta catch up here. This is the only image of the
creature in Frankenstein that we know Mary Shelley herself saw.
So, as I talk about Frankenstein tonight,
i want you to think of this image, not Boris Karloff
with bolts coming out of his head, not Robert De Niro with
a face that looks sutured, not a green creature. He’s
actually a pretty handsome guy. The engraver of this
image was clearly thinking of Michelangelo’s Adam from the
Sistine Chapel ceiling. To turn to the text now.
Frankenstein is usually, historically anyway,
primarily a story about a scientist who gives birth
to a monster that ends up destroying its maker. I want
to come back to the whole way in which he’s thinking about
science in this novel. I want to start talking
about the novel, first from a feminist perspective.
From my perspective, as a feminist, this is fundamentally
a novel about what happens when a man tries
to have a baby without a woman, and clearly, it all goes wrong.
So, I’ll start first with that passage
which this actually illustrates. The passage in
Frankenstein when Victor Frankenstein, after gathering
all the pieces of the body, both from cemeteries
and charnel houses, human pieces, but also from
slaughterhouses–animal pieces, has put them together, has
finally created a creature. “It was on a dreary night of November
that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that
almost amounted to agony, collected the instruments of life around me,
that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that
lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain
pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt
out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the
dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a
convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” Let me pause there, I want you to hear
Mary Shelley’s language here. This is the imagery of giving birth, this is what
happens after you give birth. If the child doesn’t start breathing immediately, you
spank it so that it will breathe hard, a convulsive motion will agitate its limbs.
Here’s Victor Frankenstein’s response: “How can I describe my emotions at this
catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care
I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected
his features as beautiful. Beautiful! — Great God! His yellow skin scarcely
covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous
black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only
formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the
same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled
complexion and straight black lips.” At this point, those of you who
have read the novel know, Victor Frankenstein,
after taking one look at this creature, and instead
of finding it beautiful, and this is kind of a parody of
Pygmalion and Galatea in classical mythology. Pygmalion
set out to create a sculpture of the most beautiful woman
possible, and took pieces of different women, a nose
from here, a limb from there, and then after he put her
all together, fell in love with the sculpture. The gods
intervene, and she comes alive, and loves him back.
Victor Frankenstein does the same thing, and tries to
create a beautiful, superior version of a human species,
but takes one look at it, is terrified, runs away, runs to
his bedroom, literally falls asleep, has a dream, and then
suddenly is awakened because the creature has gotten
up, followed him into the bedroom, and pulled aside the bed curtain.
Then we hear: “I beheld the wretch —
the miserable monster whom I had created. He
held up the curtain of the bed and his eyes, if eyes
they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws
opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds,
while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have
spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched
out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped,
and rushed down stairs.” What I’d like to observe here is
that, what the creature does is what you would expect an infant to do to
his parent. Reaching out to embrace it, inarticulate sounds–baby talk,
smiles even. Victor Frankenstein is horrified, and he runs away. So,
the first question I wanted to explore with you is why? Why is it
that Victor Frankenstein, after all, he spent nine months looking at this
creature, we’re told that , “Winter, spring, and summer had passed away…
to renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to
corruption.” So, why is he so terrified? One of the first things you
observe, of course, is that Victor Frankenstein has no sense
of identification with his creature. No maternal instinct,
no sense of bonding with his creature. Never once during the nine
months in which he has been putting it together, has he ever
stopped to ask himself, “Would this thing want to be created?
Would it want to be born?” And the real problem, of course,
is that he made this creature 8 feet tall because as he said,
“Bigger pieces are easier to work with than little pieces.”
Now, to understand the horror of that for Mary Shelley’s
readers. Nowadays, I think we may even have 8 feet tall
basketball players, a really tall man in Mary Shelley’s day was
5 foot 9 inches tall. So, you have to extrapolate up. So,
this creature would be today somewhere between 11 and 12 feet tall.
So, we’re talking about a huge giant–we would be looking
up at this thing if it were here beside me, right up to the ceiling.
Keep that in mind. What I want to suggest first
about this novel is that the novel grows out of
immediate origin of the novel, comes out of Mary Shelley’s
own anxieties about giving birth. We know that the
novel emerged from a dream that she herself had. She tells
us this in the introduction to the 1831 edition of the novel.
The origin of the novel is perhaps as
famous as the novel itself. Percy Shelley, Mary, her
stepsister Claire Clairmont, the poet Byron, and Byron’s
doctor, were all in Geneva in Switzerland in the summer of 1816.
This is perhaps the one time that we can
actually date a major literary event to a geological event.
To those of you who are scientists, you may be
interested to know that it was because the volcano
Tambora erupted in the Indonesian archipelago in April of 1815.
It threw so much ash into the air–40 tons
of cubic material into the air–which then blew west over Europe.
It was so cold in Europe that summer; the
sun never shown, it snowed in England, and it was
freezing in Switzerland. So, these 5 young people had
gathered together, and thought that they would spend the summer
swimming, playing out in the lake, being outdoors.
Instead, they were confined into the house. They were
amusing themselves by reading ghost stories to each other.
They decided when they finally ran out of ghost
stories, to have a competition, that they
would each try to write the most frightening ghost story possible.
Percey Shelley goes off and writes a
paragraph, then gives up, then writes a few lines of a poem,
then gives that up. Byron doesn’t even bother. Claire
Clairmont doesn’t bother. The other person that
really took the competition seriously was Byron’s
doctor, John Polidori, who actually wrote a short story
called Vampire, which was published under Byron’s
name, and is the origin of Dracula. So, both Dracula
and Frankenstein come from this night. Mary Shelley
tells us that they have been talking about the competition,
“Night waned upon this talk, and even the witching
hour had gone by, before we retired to rest. When I
placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could
I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed
and guided me, gifting the successive images that
arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the
usual bounds of reverie. I saw—with shut eyes, but acute
mental vision, —I saw the pale student of unhallowed
arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw
the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and
then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs
of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.
Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would
be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous
mechanism of the Creator of the world. His success
would terrify the artist; he would rush away from his odious
handywork, horror-stricken. He would hope that, left
to itself, the slight spark of life which he had
communicated would fade; that this thing, which had
received such imperfect animation, would subside into
dead matter; and he might sleep in the belief that
the silence of the grave would quench for ever the
transient existence of the hideous corpse which he had
looked upon as the cradle of life. He sleeps; but he is
awakened; he opens his eyes; behold the horrid thing stands
at his bedside, opening his curtains, and looking
on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes. I
opened mine in terror.” The question I want
to ask first is, what terrified Mary Wollstonecraft
Godwin, at this point she isn’t married
to Percy, what terrified her so much
about this image? To answer that question, I need to tell you
a little bit about her biography. A year and a half before she has this dream, Mary
Wollstonecraft Godwin, having eloped with Percy at the age of 16,
gets pregnant immediately. 18 months before
June 16th, 1816, she has a little baby
girl–she gave birth prematurely to her, who
she christened Clara, and who dies 2 weeks later.
After that little girl dies, Mary
has a recurrent dream that she records in her journal.
“Dreamt that my little baby came
to life again; that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed
it before the fire, and it lived. Awake and find no baby.” So, already in her dream,
she’s associating bringing the dead back to life with fire, a spark of life.
Now, six months before she has
the dream, and gives birth a second time, this time a little
boy, who’s christened William. He’s born in January 1816. While she’s writing out the
manuscript of Frankenstein, she’s pregnant for a third time from June until May 1817.
She finally gives birth to a third child, a little girl christened Clara Everina after
the dead little girl. That daughter is born September 21st, 1817.
What I wanted to suggest at this point is
that this dream, and the origin of Frankenstein,
rose out of Mary Godwin’s own deepest
anxieties about giving birth. Remember, she’s very young–she’s
only 18 years old, she’s not married, she’s been pregnant 3 times as she’s writing, and
she’s experiencing, I think, the questions that any very young, unmarried, frequently
pregnant girl would be asking herself. Questions like, “What if my child is born
deformed? A freak? Will I be able to raise a normal, healthy child? Will I be able to
love my child? What if my child dies? How will I feel then?”
Because not only of course had her first
daughter died, but this was a time when there
was an incredibly high infant mortality rate in Europe.
At least 70% of infants did die
within the first year of birth. In fact,
of the 5 pregnancies Mary Shelley has in her
lifetime, only one child survives to adulthood.
Fifth question, “Could I ever want my child to die? Could
I ever want to kill my child?” This, I think, is something that’s very hard for us
to hear through the novel, but young women giving birth for the
first time don’t always fall powerfully in love
with their newborn infants. We’ve now medicalized
this condition–we call it postpartum depression.
There are many young women who simply do not bond
with their newborn children. I think Mary Shelley is the only writer who actually
understood that phenomenon, may even have experienced it herself,
and unfortunately, we don’t have much in
the way of support for these young women. We just say, “Oh, you’ll
get over it, it’s a phase, you’ll come to love your child if you breastfeed it, if
you spend enough time with it.” Some women never do come to love their children, and
I think Mary Shelley is registering that possibility in this dream,
in which the creator is horrified by his creation.
And then the last question
that she’s got to be asking herself with each
of her pregnancies, “Could my child kill me because I killed my
mother?” Mary Wollstonecraft died giving birth to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. So,
Victor Frankenstein’s immediate, horrified rejection of his child
at this psychological level expresses the
hostility that some mothers either feel or are afraid of feeling
toward their newborn infants. However, in the novel, as you’d
know if you’ve read it, the author’s sympathies,
identification; she starts out clearly identifying with Victor
Frankenstein–she looks up in terror, he looks up in terror at the creature. But as
the novel develops, her sympathies, her identification,
shift–shifts away from the creator to the creature.
What happens to this creature, after Victor
Frankenstein runs away, he stands up, and goes
out into the world alone, seeking comfort, seeking some sort
of family. Of course, being 8 feet tall, being a huge giant,
everywhere he goes, people take one look at him,
are terrified, run away. At one point,
he’s trying to save a drowning girl, and her
boyfriend comes along and shoots him because
he’s convinced he’s trying to drown her
rather than to save her. So, what we’re getting at this level of the
novel is, I would suggest, again deeply autobiographical. After Mary Wollstonecraft
Godwin’s birth, and her mother’s death, William Godwin is left
with not only a newborn infant baby girl to
raise, but also a little girl who’s three years old who’s
the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and a previous lover, Gilbert Imlay.
A little girl known as Fanny, Fanny Imlay.
So, Godwin does what a bachelor widower would do in England
at this point. He rushes out, and hires a nanny to raise these two little girls. A
woman named Louisa Jones. For three years, Louisa Jones is a
devoted mother to these little girls. When Mary
is three, Louisa falls in love with one of Godwin’s disciples,
named George Dyson. Godwin doesn’t really approve of this disciple, partially because
he’s a gambler, or he’s an alcoholic–he doesn’t want him hanging around the house.
So, he gives Louisa an ultimatum: give up George, or leave. Louisa chooses to leave.
At the age of three, Mary loses the only maternal figure she’s
ever known, so once again, she’s motherless,
she feels abandoned, rejected. Godwin then
goes on a two year search to find another
woman to care for these children. Then comes the day when Mary’s
about five years old. Godwin’s living in a duplex in London, and
there’s a balcony, and he’s out on his balcony.
He looks over at the adjoining balcony,
and there is a mature woman standing there.
She looks at him, and she says, “Is this
the divine Godwin that I behold?” To which
he says, “Well, yes it is! Are you married?” It turns out Mary
Jane Clairmont, as she called herself, she called herself a widow,
although in fact she was never married, and
had two illegitimate children of her own. Her two children are
about the ages of Mary and Fanny. So, Godwin thinks this is deal.
They get married, and Mary Jane Clairmont, Mrs.
Godwin and Mr. Godwin, proceed then to have a child
of their own, a little boy who they call William. If you read
Mary Shelley’s journals, letters describing this
period of her life, it’s as though she’s
Cinderella with a wicked stepmother. Mrs.
Godwin clearly treated her badly; always
favoured her own children at the expense of
Wollstonecraft’s children, was particularly hostile to Mary because
any time any famous person came to the Godwin household, the only child they ever
wanted to meet was the daughter of Godwin and Wollstonecraft–they didn’t care about
Mary Jane Clairmont’s children. In fact, Collridge came, and asked to meet Mary, and
read her the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner when she was eight years old.
So, Mary grows up feeling really
rejected, disliked, her stepmother won’t let her have lessons–she
gives special French lessons to her own daughters, but she won’t give them to Mary.
Although, Mary, I have to say, does get an excellent education from Godwin. Because
Godwin is going to go on to be a major philosopher, he’s willing
to teach his children. He gives them homework
assignments, and everyday, they get two hours in his study,
where they go over their homework with him. She learns–she’s clearly brilliant–but
she learns an enormous amount from Godwin. Emotionally, she feels
completely rejected, just like the creature.
In fact, her rejection becomes so deeply
psychological and psychosomatic, that when
she’s 12 years old, she comes out with boils all over her body.
They send her to the seaside to cure her, and as long as she’s away
from her stepmother, she’s fine. She
gets better in 3 to 4 weeks. Comes back home, and immediately
starts fighting with her stepmother again. Just at this point, Godwin gets a letter
from one of his fans. Someone’s he’s never met. A man named David Baxter, who lives in
Dundee, Scotland. David Baxter writes to him, and he says, “I
am a wealthy man, I have a large family, I
live in Dundee, and I read your works all the time, and I admire
you enormously. If there’s anything I can do for you, just let
me know.” Godwin immediately writes back,
and says, “By the way, there is something you can do for me.
I have a daughter who’s causing
me a great deal of trouble–can I send
her to you?” And David Baxter says, “Well,
of course.” And Mary is shipped off at the
age of 14 all by herself, 600 miles, to
Dundee, alone, to stay with a family that are
total strangers to her. She spends 2 years
there, sort of looking in on this happy
family where she feels welcomed, but they aren’t her family.
Remember, that in the novel, the creature, after he
leaves Frankenstein’s laboratory, goes out, wanders through the woods, and finally
find a family–the De Lacey family, living in a cottage in the woods,
and he spends literally 2 years looking
through a keyhole at this family, learning how to speak because
they were in the process of teaching a foreign woman, Safie,
who’s joined them, teaching her how to speak
French, so he learns how to speak perfect French. He brings them
gifts of firewood, which he leaves for them, but then of
course, finally, at a certain point, wants to
introduce himself to this family. Let me come back to that in a
moment. There were some other parallels between the creature and
Mary that are recorded in the novel. Beyond
this experience of rejection, looking at a happy family. When
the creature rushes out of the laboratory, he’s naked, of course.
He grabs Victor Frankenstein’s cloak, which
is hanging on a hook. In this cloak, which
much have had voluminous pockets, there are
many books, which the creature begins to read. These are the
books that Mary Shelley is also reading as she writes out Frankenstein.
So, they both read Paradise Lost, they
both read Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Romans, they both read
Goethe’s Sorrows of Werter–they both get the same education. They also both read
about their own moment of conception. In Victor Frankenstein’s lab cloak are his lab
reports, so the creature can actually read the whole story of
his creation, in the moment when the spark
of life, which can be the fire or the electricity, brings him to
life. Godwin kept a diary of all the time that he was dating
Mary Wollstonecraft before they actually
moved in together. They didn’t get married until
she was five months pregnant, but all the
time that they were interacting with each other,
every time they spent a night together, he would put it in his
diary. “Shay L” if it were her place, “Shay Wah” if it’s his place. We now know from
the brilliant detective work of William Saintclair, that every time they had sex,
he would put a little dot after Shay Wah or Shay L. So, Mary could actually figure out
the exact night of which she was conceived. The other thing that she clearly
shares with the creature as he goes out into the world
is the sense of having no role model, no one she can
imitate, no one that she belongs to, no one that she can rely on.
The argument that I want to make first about the novel
is that, at the psychological level, the creature’s
experience, this experience of rejection, abandonment, isolation,
articulates Mary Shelley’s deepest fear about herself.
That since she was also unloved, abandoned, rejected
child, she might grow up to become a monster. This is what
the creature keeps saying throughout the novel. “I was
benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend.” It’s only
of course when the creature is finally rejected by the De Lacey family.
If you’ve read the novel, you’d know that Father
De Lacey, and this is very significant, is blind. So, the
creature waits for a moment, two years, when father De Lacey is alone.
He’s got a son, named Felix, and a daughter,
named Agatha, living with them, and they are joined by
Felix’s girlfriend, Safie. He waits for the moment when all
the children are out of the house, and then he goes to
introduce himself to father De Lacey because he already
knows that there’s something about his appearance that upsets people.
Father De Lacey responds entirely positively–the
creature speaks like a French gentleman. Father De Lacey
welcomes him, and says that he’s welcome to stay in the
family, to be a guest under their house. But at that moment,
Felix comes back in, sees this giant bending over his
father, immediately assumes the giant is about to hurt his
father, grabs his father, and races away. That’s the point
at which the De Lacey family leaves the novel, and it’s
also the point at which the creature performs his first act
of violence. Disappointed, he sets fire to the De Lacey
cottage, and dances around it. He then decides that a strange family
isn’t going to welcome him, he’s got to go back to his own parent, Victor
Frankenstein, and demand some sort of family relationship, some sort of
companionship from his maker. On the way to Geneva to finding Victor Frankenstein,
the creature runs into a little boy with blonde hair and blue eyes, who
immediately calls him an ogre, but also announces that he is the son of
Alphonse Frankenstein. The creature then immediately recognizes that this
little boy is a member of his own family–he’s Victor Frankenstein’s
youngest brother. And so, he reaches out, and his motivation in the novel
is to adopt this child, make him a member of his family. He reaches out,
and embraces him, but in embracing him, kills him. This is the moment in the
novel where, for the first time, we lose identification–sympathy–with
the creature. It’s this moment in the novel where Mary Shelley registers her
own deepest fear about herself–that she is capable of imagining herself
killing her own child. Because little William Frankenstein, William. That
name is overdetermined. It’s a patricidal act, killing off William Godwin.
It’s a fratricidal act, killing off the stepbrother, half brother,
William Godwin, who had become the nexus of the Godwin household, who displaced
her, and it’s also of course, a matricidal act. She is imagining the
murder of her own son. Because little William Shelley has exactly the same
blonde curly hair and blue eyes that little William Frankenstein has in the
novel, and more to the point, both of those two little Williams, William
Shelley and William Frankenstein, have a best friend, a little girl who’s
last name is Byron. In the case of William Shelley, it’s Claire Clairmont’s
daughter, Allegra Byron. In the novel, it’s simply a friend named Byron. So,
what Mary Shelley is doing at this moment is recognizing the deepest
fear she has about herself in a case sydrome that we are now familiar
with–that a battered child might grow up to become a battering parent. That, if
a child is not loved, not mothered, not nurtured, it can become a monster.
This, afterall, is what the creature says over and over again. He says,
“I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not
alone, miserably alone?” And then he goes on, “My vices are the children of
a forced solitude that I abhor, and my virtues will necessarily arise when
I live in communion with an equal.” But of course, as you know, Victor
Frankenstein, even after the creature finds him, and demands that he be given
an Eve for his Adam, that Victor Frankenstein create a female companion
for this male creature, Victor Frankenstein, after all, initially, is
responsive to this play. For the first time in the novel, and we’re about
halfway through, he acknowledges that he has some responsibilities for his
creature, that perhaps he should create a female companion for him. He starts
the process–he goes to England so he can find out from the latest
cutting-edge science on midwifery there, how a female womb is constructed, and
then he goes to an island off the coast of Scotland, the Orkney Islands,
and starts assembling a female creature, a companion for his male. But then,
halfway through this process, he suddenly stops, and rips up the female
that he’s been creating. I just wanted to read that passage to you,
and as I read, the question I want to propose to you is, what is it that
Victor Frankenstein is really afraid of? “I was now about to form another being,
of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand
times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder
and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man, and
hide himself in deserts; but she had not; and she, who in all probability
was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with
a compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the
creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive
a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form?
She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty
of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the
fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own species. Even if they
were to leave Europe, and inhabit the deserts of the new world, yet one of
the first results of those sympathies for which the daemon thirsted would be
children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth who
might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious
and full of terror. Had I right, for my own benefit, to inflict this
curse upon everlasting generations?” What is it that Victor Frankenstein is
truly afraid of here? I don’t think it’s that he’s afraid of inflicting pain on
others. I think what he’s really afraid of is the fact that he might create a woman
who might be independent, refuse to obey a compact made before her creation, a
woman who would be angry, sadistic, not just twice as malignant than the male
creature, but 10,000 times more malignant than the male creature. A woman who would
be ugly, a woman who would be lustful, who might prefer the “superior beauty of
man,” in which case, the man standing right there, who she might prefer would be
Victor himself, and since she would be 8 feet tall, and he’s only 5’4’’, she would
be able to work her will, her sexual will and desire, upon him.
And finally, of course, he’s afraid of her
reproductive powers, the fact that she can give birth to a race
of like creatures. What I want to suggest here is that what Victor Frankenstein
is really afraid of is an independent female sexuality, a female sexuality that’s
not controlled by men. Because, remember, in the 18th century and all the way
through the 19th century and most of the 20th century, males could never know for
sure that their sons were their biological sons unless they controlled their
partners, their wives, sexual practices. Now, we have DNA, but before DNA testing,
they could never know. What they would do, of course, is to confine their women.
Confine them in the private sphere, not allow them to go out into public, keep them
under lock and key. One of the interesting things to think about is the way that
women in 18th and 19th century Europe in the novel are represented. They are all
represented, the women of the Frankenstein family and even beyond, represented in
effect without powerful sexual desires. Victor Frankenstein’s mother marries
the best friend of her father, Victor Frankenstein himself is engaged to a woman
who’s been raised in his own household as his sister, sister
named Elizabeth Lavenza. And even the
De Lacey family–Safie, who comes across thousands of miles by
herself, and that’s the homage to Mary Wollstonecraft in the novel, to be with
her lover, Felix, we never even see them kiss. They just hold hands once. So,
what I’m suggesting here is that Victor Frankenstein’s anxiety
about female sexuality is characteristic of
the entire culture of which he lives, and it’s what motivates
his entire scientific project. What Victor Frankenstein really wants to do in
this novel is to eliminate the need to have females because if males can produce
males generation after generation, you simply don’t need women, females. That
aspect of Victor Frankenstein’s project is something that Mary
Shelley is acutely aware of. When Victor
Frankenstein runs away from his creature, runs back to his
bedroom, falls asleep, has a dream, let me read you the dream. “I slept, indeed, but
I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth,
in the bloom of health, walking in the
streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced
her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the
hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought
that I held the corpse of my dead mother in
my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and
I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds
of the flannel.” What Victor Frankenstein really desires
is DEAD females, and after he tears up the female creature, it’s an image that
the novel presents almost as a kind of rape, recall, “trembling with passion, I
tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged,” then, he comes back the next
morning, “The remains of the half-finished creature, whom I had
destroyed, lay scattered on the floor, and
I almost felt as if I had mangled the living flesh of a
human being.” After he tears up the female creature, the next major
event in the novel, of course, the
creature was observing the creation of the female creature, and
when he sees Victor Frankenstein destroying the female, he says, “I will be with
you on your wedding night.” Victor then goes back home, marries Elizabeth.
On their wedding night, you would expect Victor to be in bed with his bride in their
honeymoon suite, but instead, Victor leaves his bride alone to go out and
patrol the boundaries of the hotel where they’re staying. Victor assumes that when
the creature says, “I will be with you,” narcissistic egotist that he is, that the
creature means only Victor, but of course, we would assume, if someone were to join
you on your wedding night, it’s you plural. So, of course, the creature comes
in, and kills Elizabeth in retaliation for the loss of his partner. It’s at this
point in the novel, and it’s the only time in the novel, that Victor embraces
Elizabeth with “ardour” only after she’s dead. “She had been moved from the posture
in which I had first beheld her; and now, as she lay, her head upon her arm, and a
handkerchief thrown across her face and neck, I might have supposed her asleep. I
rushed towards her, and embraced her with ardour; but the deadly languor and coldness
of the limbs told me that what I now held in my arms had ceased to be the
Elizabeth whom I had loved and cherished.” The first part, I was arguing that
Victor Frankenstein’s project and the origin of the novel grows out of Mary
Shelley’s anxieties about giving birth, but also out of a patriarchal
fear of female independent sexualiaty. Victor wants to, in a spect, destroy
the mother by becoming the mother. In the second part, I want to
look at the science that lies behind this novel. Because it’s
also a novel clearly about modern science, and about the dangers of
modern science. And so, first, we should think a little bit
about what science Mary Shelley actually knew. She was clearly
no scientist herself. Victor Frankenstein’s extraordinary
experiment takes place, as far as we can tell, entirely in an attic,
lit by a single candle. But, I would argue that she had a
very sound grasp of the cutting- edge science of her day, that
she had learned this first from Godwin, then from many people
who had visited Godwin who were scientists, then finally from
Percey Shelley, who was obsessed with science. So, there are three
scientists that actually lie behind this novel whose research
she’s drawing on. The first is Sir Humphry Davy. He was the
founder of the Royal Academy of Science in England. You may know
him today as the creator of the Miner’s Lamp. the Davy Lamp.
Humphry Davy is the model for Victor’s science teacher in the
novel, for Professor Waldman. Davy had published a pamphlet
called “A Discourse Introductory to a Course of Lectures on Chemistry”
in 1802, which Mary Shelley had read, virtually memorized,
and Professor Waldman’s lectures are drawn from this. Davy makes
a claim for the chemist, or the field of chemical physiology,
which is the claim that Victor Frankenstein is inspired by,
and he’s trying to live up to. This is what Davy says. Chemistry,
the new field of chemistry, has “bestowed upon him powers
which may be almost called creative; which have enabled him
to modify and change the beings surrounding him, and by his
experiments to interrogate nature with power, not simply as a scholar,
passive and seeking only to understand her operations, but
rather as a master, active with his own instruments.” There are
two important things in that passage that I want you to hear.
First of all, Davy is engaging in a sexual politics, that for
him, the scientist is a male, a master, and nature is female.
Nature is something that the master scientist, as professor
Waldman says, the modern masters of this science penetrate into
the recesses of nature, and show how she works in her hiding
places.” More important, Davy’s making a distinction between two
kinds of science. On the one hand, what we might call interventionist
science–a science that seeks to actively change the way
that nature works, and for Davy, this is what scientists ought to do.
In opposition, there’s what we might call descriptive
science, science that simply tries to describe or analyze how nature works.
For Davy, this is passive science, scholarly
science, bad science–or at least inferior science. I would suggest
that, for Mary Shelley, it’s the opposite.That interventionist
science is highly problematic, and passive science, descriptive
science, is good. For her, the positive scientists that lies
behind this is Erasmus Darwin. Erasmus Darwin is the great
uncle of Charles Darwin, and you all know Charles Darwin is
the father of the theory of evolution. How many of you know
that Erasmus Darwin is the father of the theory of evolution? I
always like to point out to English majors that Charles Darwin gets
all the credit for his great uncle’s discoveries because he
could write better. Erasmus Darwin published all his accounts
and experiments, in which he described, quite thoroughly of
the theory of evolution through sexual selection, through random
mutation, through survival of the fittest. He described all
this in the form of footnotes to a very long, very bad poem.
Two huge volume poems called The Botanic Garden, or The Love
of the Plants. Nobody reads it, and therefore, nobody reads the footnotes.
His great nephew read the footnotes religiously, and
set about finding more evidence to prove them by going to the
Galapagos, and then published his findings in clear, lucid
prose, so he gets all the credit. Sometimes, writing is more
important even than discovery. But, Erasmus Darwin, who
Mary Shelley had read, she read The Botanic Garden,
what she learned that’s relevant to the novel is two things.
First of all, according to Erasmus Darwin,
evolution proceeds up an evolutionary ladder from
single-sex propagation, the division of amoebas, to
dual-sex propagation, males and females. So, in effect,
Victor Frankenstein is anti-evolution–he’s going
down the evolutionary ladder backwards from
dual-sex propagation to single-sex by combining
animal and human parts, and doing it. He’s also claiming
that he’s creating a new species. According to
Erasmus Darwin, that’s impossible; you can’t have a
new species just created. One species evolves out of
previous species through mutation. Darwin is all
descriptive science, he’s simply just telling us how
nature works in time. The last scientist that lies behind
this is Luigi Galvani. Galvani, you would know, if you know at
all, is galvanized rubber, rubber through which electricity has been run.
Galvani was trying to prove that life force and electricity are
the same. So, what he was doing, this was late 18th century, he was
a professor of science at the University of Bologna, the oldest
university in Europe. If you go to Bologna, you have to be sure to see
the sculpture of Luigi Galvani that stands in the courtyard right
in front of the university. What Galvani was doing was running
electrical charges through dead animals in order to reanimate them. His
speciality was frogs: get a dead frog, run a charge of electricity
through it, and it’ll get up and hop away. So, in the sculpture, he’s
standing there, and he’s got his book of knowledge that’s open in
front of him, but look carefully, there’s a dead frog in the book.
So, Galvani is electrifying frogs, and he’s also moving on to cows.
Finally, his nephew, Giovanni Aldini, comes to London. This is in
June 1803, and decides to do the ultimate Galvani experiment–to run
electricity through a dead human corpse. So, Aldini collects the
dead body of a recently hanged criminal from Newgate Prison, a man
named Thomas Foster, takes him to an operating theater, and proceeds
to run ever-stronger charges of electricity through his corpse. At
the first charge, Thomas Foster, he recounts this later, opened his
eyes, clenched his fists, and his entire body went into convulsions.
He then increases the electrical arch of the charge, and finally
concludes, “The actions, even of those muscles, furthest distance
from the points of contact with the electrical arch, was so much increased
as almost to give an appearance of reanimation.” And then, the
final sentence, “Vitality might perhaps have been restored if many
circumstances had not rendered it impossible.” I just wanted to call
your attention, this is cutting edge science that Victor is doing.
This is the latest, cutting-edge experiment on electricity, and of
course, Victor Frankenstein is using a spark of light–and electrical
spark–to animate his creature. Part 3. In Mary Shelley’s novel,
Victor Frankenstein does not succeed in his scientific project.
Does not succeed in becoming the creator of a new race of Supermen,
a species, which as he says, “Would bless me as its creator and
source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.
No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I
should deserve their’s.” Now, I would like to suggest that the
reason why his experiment failed is because Mother Nature fights back.
Fights back first by cursing Victor Frankenstein with diseases. All
the time that Victor Frankenstein is carrying out his creation,
both the male creature and the female creature, he gets sick.
He gets physically sick, he gets mentally sick. In fact, after the
creation of the male creature, he has a total nervous breakdown, and
he has to get his best friend to come and nurse him back to health,
which takes 6 months. Finally, he is so overwhelmed by disease
that he dies of natural causes at the age of 26. Secondly, Mother
Nature pursues Victor Frankenstein with the very elements that he
tried to steal from her. I like to suggest that all the atmospheric
events, all the effects in the novel, which we think of as the
paraphernalia of gothic novels or gothic films, all the lightning,
thunder, and rain that occurs all during Victor Frankenstein’s
constructions of his creatures. All that is there, not just as a background,
it’s there to remind us of the elemental power of nature–that
she has the capacity to pursue Victor, just as he’s been trying to
pursue her to her hiding places. If you think back to the Greek
tragedy like Orestes, those spirits that pursue Orestes, that’s going
on in this novel as well. Thirdly, Mother Nature punishes Victor
by depriving him of any kind of maternal instinct, parental
instinct–instinct to bond with his own child. Finally, she punishes him
by making it impossible for him to procreate his own natural children
by having his creature kill his fiance on their wedding night. At
this level, clearly, the message of the novel is those who violate
Mother Nature will be killed. I don’t want to end there.
Fourth part. I think, implicit in this
novel is an alternative idea to Victor Frankenstein’s project.
His project is to control nature, change her, and eliminate female sexuality. What
I think Mary Shelley is trying to suggest in this novel is an alternative to that. I
think she believes that civilization can be improved–the human
species can be improved only by people who
value and cooperate with nature. I think it’s very important
that the only member of the Frankenstein family who is literally alive at the end
of this novel is Victor’s brother, Ernest. The only thing we know about Ernest is that
his father wanted him to be a lawyer, but he refused and insisted instead on becoming
a farmer, and farmers, of course, are people who have to collaborate with nature
in order to survive. The best model for this natural collaboration
in Mary Shelley’s view, I think, is the
nuclear family, but it’s a nuclear family that is grounded on
a mutually loving, mutually respecting, egalitarian family dynamic. This is the way
in which Mary Wollstonecraft’s ideal of the companion at marriage
gets into Frankenstein. The De Lacey family
is a gesture in that direction, but
notice that the De Lacey family lacks a mother.
Although they’re a happy family, as their names suggest;
Felix, the son, “happiness”; Agatha means goodness; they’re joined
by Safie, sofia–wisdom. Although they move
in that direction, even they lack in the maternal embrace
of a mother, and hence, they disappear from the novel. What I’m suggesting here
is that Mary Shelley wants to endorse what nowadays we would call an ethic of care, a
society and morality in which the needs of everyone in the family are
met, are acknowledged, and nurture is met. She
wants us to see that when the nurturing love
of a mother is absent, that is when monsters get made.
Also, when someone places higher value on their
work than they do on the domestic affection and their human relationships, that’s
also when monsters get made. And she says this, actually. In a
passage in the novel, which is in Victor
Frankenstein’s voice, but I think comes as close to anything in the
novel to articulating Mary Shelley’s own view. She says, “A human
being in perfection ought always to preserve
a calm and peaceful mind, and not to
allow a passion or a transitory desire to
disturb his tranquility. I do not think that the
pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule.
If the study to which you apply yourself has a
tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for
those simple pleasures in which no alloy
can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that
is to say, not befitting the human mind.” Now, if we could have the slides up.
This passage goes on, and it goes on to make a really
important political point. She goes on to say, “If this rule were
always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere
with the tranquillity of his domestic affections, Greece
had not been enslaved, Caesar would have spared his country,
America would have been discovered more gradually, and the empires
of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.” There’s a powerful
political argument going on all through Frankenstein, and it has
to do with the French Revolution. You can see the creature as the
embodiment of the history of the French Revolution, starting
out as the belief of the innate goodness of human beings, but
then moving through the terror, becoming frightening. This is why
I wanted to show you this slide. The subtitle of the novel, of
course, is Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. Frankenstein,
like the Greek hero, Prometheus, stole fire from the Gods to give to man.
She wants to suggest, following this print by Cruikshank,
that the true modern prometheus of her day was Napoleon. This
is Napoleon, who has stolen the innate ethic of justice
from the origins of the French Revolution, profited from the terror,
and reinscribed a tyranny. So, the image is the downfall of
tyranny, the downfall of the modern Prometheus of Napoleon at the
hands of justice. Mary Shelley, too, wants to say that the problem
of the French Revolution is that the original thinkers, the
revolutionary thinkers, the Japanese, did not make room
in their new Republic, their egalitarian-democratic republic,
they did not make room in it for the aristocrats, the Roman Catholics,
the King and Queen. Instead, they executed them by the
guillotine, and thereby transformed what could have been an improved
social organization into a tyranny. I think, she wants to draw an
analogy between that political argument and her scientific argument.
She wants to suggest that scientists also have to take
responsible for the predictable consequences of their research.
They have to take political and ethical responsibility. This is
the most pressing aspect of the novel in the way that it speaks
directly to what’s going on at this very moment. This is
keenly on my mind because UCLA is very much on the forefront
of this scientific research. The Human Genome Project and
germline engineering, stem cell engineering–how many of you are
familiar with this? What stem cell engineering does, as you know, is
that it alters DNA forever. It alters the DNA of a pre-fertilized
egg that’s then implanted, and then goes on. I went to a conference
in 1998, it was the first conference of it’s time, called
Engineering the Human Germline at UCLA. All the guys were
there–Craig Venter of the Human Genome Project, Watson of Watson and Crick.
They’re saying why we should alter germlines, why
we should engage in stem cell engineering. The first thing they
want to do is to eliminate genetic diseases; SAX Disease, Huntington’s
Disease–that sounds fine. Then, they go and say they want to
eliminate mental diseases, like Bipolar Disorder. So, of course,
I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, there goes Virginia Woolf, there
goes Van Gogh, there goes Proust. Maybe we want to think about
this some more?” Then, they go, “Of course, we want to improve
attractiveness.” I think, “Who gets to decide? Emotional stability?
We’re really into Brave New World at this point.” Finally,
they wanted to eliminate all the natural causes of aging. And I’m
thinking, “Oh, my God, we’re all going to living to 150, 200.”
In fact, when the audience was asked on how many of them would
do this for their unborn infants, 99% of the people in the audience
said, “Of course we would do this if we can afford it.” The
only person who objected was someone from social security saying,
“Have you thought about the implications for social security?”
And I objected because I saw them all as one little
Frankenstein after another. This project creates a perfect human
species that would live forever. The latest wrinkle in
this, and this is the conference that I went
to last year, is called Babies by Design.
Women who do ex-vitro fertilization, which of
course, more and more women do because as they get
into their late 30s early 40s, they’ll produce
many eggs, usually as many as 2 a dozen.
Then, they have to decide which eggs to have implanted.
Luckily, they’re not all octo-moms,
they don’t want all eggs implanted. So, they
do genetic diagnoses of the eggs, it’s
called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. What
they’re going to do is to screen these eggs to eliminate genetic
diseases, but also to eliminate things like congenital deafness,
blindness, bowel syndrome, dwarfism. One of the
members of this panel was Paul Miller. You may
know him, he’s a dwarf, he’s been the leader
of the Americans with Disabilities Act movement
in America, and has had the most impact on
Congress in this regard. Paul Miller got up, and
he said, “You do have to realize, from the
point of view of the communities of the deaf,
the blind, dwarves–this is tantamount to a
Holocaust.” Think about that. That’s Victor
Frankenstein’s project, alive and well, UCLA right now.
So, think about it in terms of bioethics.
There’s also an argument in this novel about race.
Because the creature is not just a giant, he’s a yellow
skin giant. This is my own version of the creature, coloured for your benefit.
What I wanted to call you attention
to is the fact that Mary Shelley is making a
comment about race in the novel. When she
gives the creature long flowing black hair and yellow skin.
The yellow skin is not jaundice,
it’s not disease–it’s a racial marker. She had
been reading Blumenbach, who developed our
current classifications of the 5 races of man.
Caucasian, white, and yellow would be Asian.
So, for her, this creature is clearly marked
as an Asian. Walton, who picks up Victor
Frankenstein at the North Pole, who sees the
creature at a distance, says, “He is not a
European.” The creature thus represents the
advent of someone of another race into the
European culture, and I think contributes to
Victor Frankenstein’s fear. What I want to
suggest then, finally, is that the argument of
this novel, the implicit argument, is that we
have to learn how to embrace Mother Nurture,
even that which is radically different from ourselves.
Even if it’s an 8 foot giant, even if it’s a member of
another race, even if it is someone who is categorically different.
If we don’t embrace them, if we respond to
them in fear as Victor Frankenstein does, then we
write them as monstrous, and if we write them
as monstrous, we are the authors of
monstrosity–we create the monsters that we describe.
So, I wanted to leave you the last image, the
alternative to Victor Frankenstein’s reaction.
This is Diane Arbus’s famous photograph of the Jewish giant at home
with his parents in the Bronx. Thank you.