Every single woman that I know has experienced a straightforward sexual assault — raped, groped, flashed — mostly by someone she knew. And from her working life, every single woman I know has a catalogue of the occasions when she was manipulated, intimidated, pestered, ignored, frightened or belittled simply because of her sex. She’s learned to put those away in a box. Because if you spend too much time thinking about it, you could get quite bitter.
#metoo opened all those personal boxes. The silence was broken, and many of us have spent the last few weeks recalibrating our memories, reliving some bad times, and talking about how sexual harassment (or worse) changed our lives.
Which brings us to Harvey Weinstein, the British Houses of Parliament, Kevin Spacey and all — why is this series of scandals different? After all, we’d been hearing about Bill Cosby, that Ailes fellow and Donald Trump throughout the previous 12 months — not to mention Dominique Strauss Kahn and Julian Assange a few years ago. These were all powerful men accused of rape.
The difference is in the response — #metoo. You can feel the cultural shift as people start to understand that everyone is affected. This is not just about some politicians, or famous film stars; this is about your workplace and mine — or it may be about your allotment, your steering committee or your co-op. Weinstein is just the poster pig for a whole world of disrespect that almost all of us — men and women — have had to negotiate.
You could argue that people have been adjusting to what it means to have women making up half the workforce. After all, it was only a generation ago that women started going out to work in large numbers. Watch the fantastic — and bizarrely cancelled — miniseries Good Girls Revolt, set in a magazine office in 1969 — to remind yourself of just how far we’ve come. (Wait. The Amazon exec who cancelled it has had to resign. For harassment!) Since the Pluto-Uranus conjunction of the mid-1960s, there’s been a power struggle over women’s rights. Now, with the opening square of Uranus-Pluto, we reach an important turning point.
#metoo is part of the great Pluto in Capricorn purge of the established order that we’ve been witnessing — or party to — since 2008. Capitalism, patriarchy, western hegemony, white hegemony are all in the process of transformation. Old power structures are being dismantled. Ideas we took for granted are disappearing.
Pluto in Capricorn — 2008 – 2023
But this is a really important year within that period of a decade and a half. It’s the only time that Jupiter, the planet of magnfication, will be in Scorpio, the sign of Pluto’s rulership, while Pluto is in Capricorn. All the Scorpio stuff — power, sex, death, corruption, taxes, emotional insight — is going to be huge — and it’s going to be working on established power (Capricorn).
Already we see this at work. For taxes, look at the Paradise Papers; for sex & power: Weinstein; for power & sex: Parliament. Scorpio keeps secrets. Jupiter exposes them. Capricorn maintains structures. Pluto destroys.
Then there’s the perfect trine from Neptune in Pisces to Jupiter, which has given this thing tremendous popular momentum. In France they’re talking about a “tidal wave” of accusations. Neptune in Pisces is an overwhelming force — which is going to become even stronger when the lord of the Sea turns direct at the end of this month. Just a few days later, the trine will become exact — watch who gets swept away by a popular movement. We are all washing our filthy linen in public — but maybe it will come out clean in the end.
After that, Jupiter will move on quite rapidly to make a sextile to Pluto, a planet that loves the dirty truth. These two will connect exactly three times over the coming year, but they are working together already.
Jupiter in Scorpio, working smoothly with both Neptune and Pluto, does more than just reveal the turgid secrets of the past. Two heavy-duty, “collective” planets in water create a wave of emotional understanding — and Pluto provides insight. This is how the silence around sexual harassment was broken. Not everyone suddenly “gets it”, but a lot of people do. This is about a collective sense of empathy. There has been a collective shift in the idea of what is acceptable behaviour.
If #metoo brings about a change in culture, our daughters could go into the workplace and be valued for their brains and their talent. It might be too much to suppose that respect, good manners, decorum and kindness will start to be properly valued, but those personal Pandora’s boxes can never be shut again. Expect a fight back — there always is one — but the momentum is behind change.
Details of who did what to whom are not really the point — it’s how we behave from now on that matters.