Trickster figures are stock characters appearing in myths and stories from all over the world. Like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, the trickster moves across traditional boundary lines, causing chaotic events to unfold by exposing what is hidden, often through reprehensible behavior. Trickster figures can appear in real life as well, some say we all have aspects of the archetype within us, we see the trickster looming large in the persona of Donald Trump.
Tricksters generally come onto the scene when there are important decisions to be made and something big is at stake. They challenge the main characters of the story to reconsider their views, question the journey they are on and become reconciled to their truest path. Tricksters expose the dark realm within us all where fear lives, namely, the shadow. Trump represents this trickster figure who has come into the story of our culture for such a time as this and we are the main characters, each one of us. He forces us to either ignore or examine, at the shadow level, what we really believe about issues that have largely remained hidden, particularly what we believe about women.
While we might be outraged at his perspective on women, if we look at the statistics of violence against women, (1 in 3 women have experienced violence against them) we see that his degrading views actually support the statistics. This is how the shadow works when it is ignored inside of us, it begins to have power over us and becomes extremely uncomfortable with the truth, rationalizing or intellectualizing the facts and protecting its power through responses of hatred, rage and control. While we may feel that the ways in which we devalue women in our culture are unacceptable on the surface, we still somehow have enabled the system to function as our dominant state for whatever reason. Perhaps we feel helpless to change it.
But, strangely, the key to changing the treatment of women and examining our core beliefs about women resides less in our common responses to people like Trump, such as anger, outrage, blaming, shaming or doing nothing at all, and more in the shadow he brings out in all of us. The question is not necessarily, do we support, are we afraid of, or could we ever believe in Trump, but rather, what do we really feel about women, daughters, mothers, grandmothers and sisters? Do we really expect them to be subservient to men? And if we feel this statement is off base, then why do our statistics not support it?
We are engaged in an epic battle for a woman’s voice to be her own. We are in between two systems, the old and the new, the known and the unknown woods, where the action takes place, where the shadow is revealed, sometimes dressed up in grandma’s pajamas. The question is not what will we do with Trump, but what will we do with us? How will we invite change into our own hearts to produce the kinds of leaders who value us, all of us?
The shadow is always shocking when it is revealed, tooth and claw, exposing our core beliefs about women. Women are even shocked when they get to the bottom of what they believe about themselves. But the truth doesn’t have to be paralyzing and it doesn’t have to jump up and swallow us for lunch. Trump, with his big-ness, though he seems to have paralyzed half a nation with fear, has actually done us a huge favor, he’s brought the shadow out into the open, named the elephant in the room. And now the choice is ours, what do we really believe about women? Our answer to that question could change the world.
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