Author: Joan Spitz
Train Wreck Cosmetics “illumination Project” is a collective effort of international artists uniting in order to explore world events through the eyes of past heroines reaching out to impart their epic leadership principles through exemplary lives. These ancient mentors have much to contribute to present day as their lessons are very much alive and relevant to our current condition. Train Wreck Cosmetics, in an effort to find a new destination, sought out artist in other countries to provide these leading ladies of our past a new voice in hopes that we may connect cultures in unity beyond the troubles of our time. It addresses the threat of aggressors as they historically and currently damage our destiny and life experiences altering how we learn, think and grow as individuals, families and nations.
An invitation to artist’s and their creative colleagues was presented in order to create an original production featuring a heroine of choice in order to produce a photography and video shoot using Train Wreck Cosmetics, costumes of choice and a lantern. The lantern, passed from one country to the next provides a way to reach out to our past and carry lessons to our present and in essence, hand a lantern of hope from one leading lady to the next. Language barriers at times, present a small obstacle easily overcome by our nature to learn and understand others as we connect to our sisters across time and place viewing each other’s work and respond to it.
What was learned from these beautiful artist was beyond expectations. Their creativity was awe inspiring but beyond their work and contribution was the shared trust and patience while the project evolved. The participants to date are Russian fine arts photographer Katerina Klio: Joan Of Arc military leader. Ukraine model Julie Fiore: Kate Shephard, women’s’ rights advocate. USA film and photography makeup artist Kendra Bevil: Lydia Darragh, Revolutionary War Spy. Fashion model Rosie Beaman England: Civil War Nurse Clara Barton. Each project has a lesson, each woman an illustration of bravery and self-sacrifice for the care and keeping of others
What seems to play repeatedly in the historical theater are the main characters: the bully, the minion, the victim and the heroine. Same actors, different stages almost played out in predictability from a Shakespeare playbill as a guide. It’s an uncomfortable proposition examining the dark past but if there is any hope of sparing future generations of a repeat tragic history, one must examine the persecutors. They come in all shapes and sizes as intuitively we all recognize the characters in each other and ourselves to one degree or another. Casting judgment is not the objective but rather to instill a healthy sense of self-introspection.
One common theme in the bully/heroine theater is the cycle of abuse. It is used to identify aspects of domestic abuse but finds its way in just about all situations where disproportionate distribution of resources, physical violence, psychological viciousness and exploitation as a means to insure power over others. All of the heroine stories have a common starting point. A severe threat to their lives and freedom with conception beginning with a bully and the first stage of abuse: tension and phase two actual aggression.
Ground zero of the cycle of violence is the aggressor in the act of relentless campaign of psychological and physical violence in tension building and actual brutality. This character is either a sociopath or someone that chooses to bully as a defense or a learned behavior. A common theme of the mayhem typically starts by a whisper of a very ominous message left unchecked spreading like a contagion, taking over those attempting to live with integrity. These initiators of sabotage leave many in their wake either drowning or learning to swim stronger in an unforgiving current.
There is a spectrum of hostility in a changing environment which presents the challenge of decision making in a sea of compromise as most prefer to be decent individuals but if pushed become a greater force of negativity than the one initiating the abuse. This is known as gaslighting. For the sake of illustration, the little sister prods the older brother relentlessly until he hits her, the father spanks the boy and the little sister laughs. Classic move.
Bullies can be subtle at times dressed in costumes of moral guardians. Others camouflage as jesters tossing small grenades of hurtful “I was just joking” comments to an unsuspecting audience inducing everyone to run for fire exits. More obvious are self-perceived leaders perpetrating economic despair, one of the most devastating abusive criminal behaviors. It is sold as successful leadership but in truth it is worse than the robber breaking a window and making off with the family heirlooms. At least these creatures of misfortune leave the pension and college education the collective cheaters, moochers and officials have taken over the course of a lifetime.
The outcome of economic bullying is catastrophic creating a fertile ground for hate groups wasting time and energy loathing other victimized groups instead of fixing problems or uniting and going after the source of the destruction.
The reason economic victim groups don't unite is because it is a daunting proposition because tyrants and large-scale social abusers are surrounded by turrets, weaponry, security guards and opposition research. Divide and conquer is a classic move among those in power to keep everyone in check. Thus it may be easier to beat up on the little guy or girl next door that doesn't look or think the same instead of going after the true enemy. A bully may actually initiate hate groups as small as a clique at work or a bully corporate culture shifting the accountability of their evil deeds off themselves. Keep the masses needy and hating each other and that is a way to control absolutely.
There are other various arsenals the aggressor uses against its intended target which include undermining credibility of anyone with the sack to stick up for the victim. The defender is the perceived threat to the sociopath as he/she can upend the passive aggressive teenage girl crucifying the one that jumps higher or has a more perceived attractive look. Bullies HATE the competition. Anyone disturbing the controlling technique of the terrorist should be prepared for a sideswipe like no other.
Terrorists maintain power by keeping everyone in the group petrified, thus all chime in and contribute to the abuse of the victim, not necessarily because they want to but because they fear they will be next. If a dictator wants to get 200 people onto a train against their will to an ominous destination with a few soldiers, he/she may direct minions to kill a few women and children and watch everyone step in line.
Weapons are not always guns, as they can emerge as control over how much one person pays in interest or who obtains the latest quiet stock tip never mind the historical bail outs for some banking institutions and failing corporations while other enterprises go under.
Another missile the aggressor may use to control a community is misinformation and propaganda. This is tricky because it is very difficult to track. Ask any leader trying to improve a corporate culture or a teacher trying to instill integrity values in a classroom of kids if it’s easy. Going after false messages is nearly impossible as lies are easy but accountability for message bullying is a tuff determination and holding the initiator of the abuse very difficult.
Ultimately, the perpetrators of this highly destructive abuse should be dealt with swiftly. The lie gossip cancer is used large scale. What we choose or do not choose is predicated on what information surrounds us and that influence has changed exponentially as technology becomes more versed in how to control us. What use to be drawn on cave walls evolved to pamphlets, newspapers, radio and television. Information pollution is everywhere and one must take care not to choke on it. Technological mind bombardment of “buy this or you are dumb”, “vote like this or you are bad” is non-stop in commercial land. The propaganda assault is sent to phones, TV’s and even on screens at the gas pump to an unsuspecting public unaware of what is going on. Our information evolution took an integrity dive from mind-control techno land.
Heroine defenders of truth and justice from our past and present come from different eras, level of education and social status but they all were tested in perilous times as a result of bullies utilizing tools of destruction threatening others until along comes someone that says, “I’m mad as hell, and I am not going to take this anymore”- Howard Beale (Network)
The common thread that connects heroines is what happens when they are pushed too far. Many humble women previously found minding their own affairs, going about the business of their lives, giving birth, washing shirts and creating soup from leftovers can change on a moments notice. These women of substance surround us, as we experience events that rattle our paradigms with the realization it takes only a few missed meals, pandemics, explosions or nefarious hate groups to change the course of who we are and what we become in response to life threats. Women are known to be generally gentle and kind but if called to protect their family can become warriors, spies, fighter pilots and social reform advocates.
Enter stage right, the intervention. The challenger of the bully (heroine/hero) steps in and says no, it’s not okay to harass, torture, shame another. This person is usually outgunned and is prepared to absorb a higher degree of abuse in some cases than the primary victim, as the aggressor cannot maintain power unless the challenger to the bully is defeated as soon as possible. This induces the bully to immediately engage brutal attacks on the defender with the objective to keep the hero/heroine squashed. Some may have difficulty comprehending someone that is willing to sacrifice themselves to protect others. The challenger may realize they are outgunned but may choose to step in anyway because they possess the greatest form of integrity.
Vanity Fair online exemplifies these highly principled women in the piece “Five Badass Female Spies Who Deserve Their Own World War II Movie”, outlining remarkable female spy operatives who played critical roles in the French Resistance trained to handle explosives and guns, memorize intricate codes, organize munitions and supply drops endure harsh interrogation and in some cases were in charge of thousands of men.
Hollywood has recently tapped in on some of these women of historical substance. Paramount Film cast Daisy Ridley (Rey: Star Wars) to play Virginia Hall, an American socialite who was deemed the most dangerous Allied spy working for British intelligence SOE inspired Book "A woman of No Importance", by Sonia Purnell.
All historical brave women are worthy of our time and respect as they reach out from the past and teach us how to navigate threats and bring honor and dignity to our lives in times of crisis or recovery. Their accomplishments remind us that courage and forgiveness are not old fashion ideals as there is a time to fight with bravery and a time to pardon, holding leadership accountable. Our first heroine exemplifies this, as Joan of Arc carried a sword, a banner and a shield. She held fast under grave threat and managed to lead an army to victory on numerous occasions changing the course of European history for centuries. She endured a campaign of lies and inquiry from political leaders who ultimately burned her at the stake because she was a threat to their power.
What is it about female goddesses of guts and glory that give us an example to find a new destination for our own lives? We look up to them, we respect them, we may even emulate them, although it’s not recommend to suit up in armor like Joan of Arc and head into the boardroom with a sword as we may need to design a more productive strategy to dig our high heels in when faced with someone threatening our creativity, intellectual property or take credit for another's ideas. Careful thought and seeking a respected counselor may be the best course of action when faced with a bully.
We have it within us to just say no to thugs. That’s right. NO, but be prepared to suffer the consequences. Get ready for victim blaming from all sides and be prepared not to be surprised who turns up to be the champion and who presents themselves to be as bad or worse than the adversary. Remember, we are all human.
Listen for the storm on the horizon. The most important lesson our leading ladies teach us is to monitor for oppressors. Pay attention to the details of people, governments and unfortunately moral leaders. The earlier the cancer is identified, the easier it is to deal with and the quicker the solution will come. Just ask anyone dedicated to changing a hostile organization to a safe work environment and they will likely tell you it is nearly impossible. It is a long arduous battle wrought with legal and social clashes presenting a risk to careers and ability to provide for their families. One must exercise caution and decide if they want to take on the persecutors or simply pack up and head for the hills. There is nothing wrong with making a run for it.
In any event circling the wagons and stopping the behavior in its tracks immediately by more than one person is the best way to avoid catastrophe as there is safety in numbers to prevent the bully from running the show. Introspection is key, as bullying is contagious assure most of us at one time or other were either the bully, the victim, the minion or the heroine.
The Illumination Project brings lessons of our respected historical Heroines to stage front, so that we may study our past in order to understand our present and improve our chances for a better future. To these keepers of the lantern of light among us, thank you for your courage and your gift of lessons relevant to our daily lives.
"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim"
"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future"