#MeThree Webinar with Jean Hartmann on Relational Action Inquiry
Our topic:#MeThree: Inviting the unheard voices.
Overview:#MeToo offers an example of huge social shift in a short time, emerging from local actions and using social media. It has much to teach us about transformation. As Action Researchers we ask, what comes after #MeToo? Hence the term #MeThree… a time in which previously suppressed voices are included in reflection on experience and design of future experiments. What do we know about inviting those voices to speak? Those voices both in ourselves and among our stakeholders? Jean shares her personal story below as an invitation to deeper conversation.
The recording is now available. You may view the edited videos of the #MeThree conversation with Jean Hartmann here, and read the participants’ reflections via the webinar chat.
Recap: The webinar started with a guided Chakras meditation to settle into the space of inner transformation (first-person inquiry). Jean Hartmann shares of her own sensing journey to become aware of the power-over influences in her upbringing, particularly grounded in her relationship with mom (see part I of the video: 7+min). Throughout the webinar, participants are invited into deeper reflections about internal authority and adult development, culminating in an emergent #MeThree understanding for both personal and social oppressions (see part II: 14+ min).
Jean’s personal story: The early voice of #MeThree.
Three days after mom passed, I learned of the existence of a dark secret which she had kept to herself. Few people knew back then, and fewer people know now, about what really happened. And those who have some knowledge of it claim that the passage of time has muddled its secrecy, making irrelevant the ‘truth’. The details about my origin, my lineage, my roots were hushed at first among mom’s network of female friends in rural Tainan (in Taiwan); then eventually lost in the shuffles of the Lin family narratives.
I felt a moment of #MeToo. An intense anger arose in me as if I’ve been wronged, not only by the sexual offense in whatever form it occurred for mom (which produced me), but also in the silencing of it due to mom’s deep shame and pain surrounding this secretive relationship (an unknown, now unknowable). But my anger gave way to a more innate understanding of mom’s deeper suffering. I was born into mom’s sorrows, and raised in the shadows of her tormented womanhood. In exchange for the silence she kept, the Lin family supported her from afar, and the traditional society turned its critical eye for several decades.
Why the term #MeThree
#MeToo is a ‘silence breaking’ platform for victims of sexual harassment and assault, serving to call out inappropriate behaviors experienced by women across the times and spaces in which we live. I too have silenced my own voice by not asking, “who hurt us, you and me; how am I violated when you suffer the bodily harm?”. There will be no satisfaction in bringing shame and pain upon the perpetrator, when mom has made peace in her passing. Mom found refuge in a quiet forgetting (but not forgiving) of all interactions that were harsh, mean, and dehumanizing. For her, not speaking to what happened—strengthened her purpose, and her even stronger will.
I am left behind with the vestige of an untold story, not knowing who did what to whom, yet suffering the consequences of their entanglement. A #MeThree arises in me as a form of relational inquiry and personal liberation. If #MeToo enables a mutual acknowledgment of a ‘wrong done’ between the victim and her perpetrator, #MeThree seeks to embrace the hurts on both sides for the generations beyond toward a heart-mind reconciliation, healing the residue of psycho-emotional traumas. Here, social justice is predicated on a human kindness that transcends the act, acting, actor and the enacted in the collective. Simply, violating actions by others reflect the suppressed experiences and unheard voices within all of us.
What’s meaningful for Action Researchers
Turning toward our inner work, #MeThree offers three touchpoints for the transforming self when inquiring, reflecting, learning, and experimenting with others on issues across local, regional, or national contexts.
* First, can we connect with the goodness of human hearts in victims and perpetrators alike, despite what appears to us as misguided intentions, wrongful doing, deceitful manipulation, predatory transgressions, moral deprivation, societal failures, or human depravity? I am reminded of the reduced worthiness of women in many cultures as underscored in the documentary film, Girls Rising (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz3mATaZAm8).
* Second, how do we cross the paradigmatic divides and power-over dynamics that typically characterize the ongoing interactions between any groups of oppressed and the oppressor, in order to unite around equal privilege and access to individual and collective flourishing? While recognizing that positionalities are embedded in the peoples’ value and belief systems, can we navigate the in-between space without embodying the inherent tensions and irreconcilable differences (based on existing paradigm and power constructs), or avoid participating in the power struggle ourselves?
* Third, can we collaborate not only through peering knowledge but also in our teaming experience? In other words, do we have the capacity to let go of our egos and structured disciplines, and let in the VUCA of emergent unknowns and
environmental demands? How do we hold the spaces to listen into the suppressed experiences and unheard voices within each of us, between us, and around us?
Empowermental empathy: From utterance to embodiment
#MeToo stands for empowermental empathy for women. I invite us to consider #MeThree as the reach for togetherness, not only between women but also with men, extending empowermental compassion to all—pain is universal. #MeThree is a consciousness latent within us. It is that visceral sense of belonging and emotional attachment that we were born with. Our first moments were cries of joy and shouts of innocence that voiced our presence. But as we mature into our bodies and minds, we become separated and independent from that voice of pure heart. Even though identities and self-concepts are of social structuration, we grow distant from that communal source of being that we share, and the soul which connects us.
For my mother, non-belonging, emotional detachment, and a vow of silence were an acceptable form of existence. Yet for me, connecting with others have been as essential as drawing breaths, in my never-ending quest for self-acceptance and a taste of unconditional love.
We look forward to a rich conversation at this webinar!