"Naughty" & "Nice" WomenJan 12, 2022
On my Instagram account @coffeewithmyancestors, I shared a Journal Prompt for today asking about the "naughty" or "bad" women in our families. I invited people to write those stories.
Throughout history, it is often the man's story that is emphasized and told. Women are often neglected. There is a global programming of several views of women. "Women are sugar and spice and everything nice." "Women are the homemakers, the child bearers and rearers, the virtuous among us." "History must ignore the atrocities committed by women."
What else have you grown up learning? It may be stuck away in your subconscious and you probably live your life identifying with some of the above. When you research and write the family stories, honestly ask yourself, am I including the women? Am I including the "bad" stories too? Or am I hiding behind shame, guilt, anger, fear?
Things to Consider
- Women deserve to have their stories told whether good, bad, or ugly.
- Remove the judgment you have on your "naughty" or "nice" female ancestors and just write the story. We have zero right to judge them. We did not live their lives. We did not know of the 100 choices they made before the one we judge them for today.
- Ask what choices your female ancestors had before they made the choice you are judging or history is hating them for.
- Ask what else was possible for your female ancestor in that moment.
- Look at the historical context of the life your female ancestor led. Where did she live, when did she live, what were the societal/political/religious/educational rules at that time? This will help you see why she may have chosen one thing over another.
Let's look at an example.
German Women During WWII
I'm reading another book by Wendy Lower, Hitler's Furies. German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields. Barely 1/3 into the book and I have many pages tabbed with colored tabs, passages underlined and notes written in the margins. I'm getting quite an education about women and what their lives were like in Germany in the 1930s and choices they made when Hitler was in power and beginning to colonize Eastern Europe. Wendy has a huge number of sources and notes in her books which allows readers to go down many rabbit holes after they finish her books.
We don't often see books or stories about the "bad" women. Those often remain hidden because families are afraid of what others will think if they know the history. There is shame, anger, hate, guilt, grief, and other low vibrational energies attached to these stories that continue to pass through the generations. Now, if we are courageous enough to research and tell the story, we can release those low and negative energies and heal.
One big thing I have learned so far in reading Wendy's book about these women who chose to murder Jews, participate in euthanasia (murder) programs of children and those "unworthy of life" due to mental or medical issues, is they were mostly like women everywhere.
What does that mean, they were like women everywhere? German women in the 1920s and 1930s wanted to experience more than what life had given them. More wanted to attend university and get an education, a job, do more than be a wife and mother or help on the farm. We see the same patterns in the U.S. in that time period. Women everywhere were rising up to be more, have more, exert their power. They wanted adventure, travel, education, a voice, and more choice.
However, that power was manipulated in Germany under Hitler and women were indoctrinated through school, media, government, forced Hitler Youth Groups, and many other ways to believe in Hitler as the Saviour of the people. As neighbors spied and turned in other neighbors for small and large infractions, more women out of fear, fell into line to participate (often out of fear) in the Nazi Killing Machine.
Under Hitler we see women's dreams being encouraged through the various women's programs that everyone was required to participate in starting at a young age. Then upon school graduation they had compulsory national service. This was another opportunity to indoctrinate and ensnare women with values and virtues to do the dirty work, all under the patriotic energy of the German Reich.
Wendy gives plenty of examples of the stories of "normal" young women who wanted more - a job, to leave the farm, adventure, education - which ended up 0n the Eastern Front to do horrific things, whether they realized the impact of their work at that time or not. Women were responsible for:
- Teachers were sent to one room school houses in occupied territories to Germanize students. To teach German values and language. Wipe out the former culture and language.
- Nurses were sent to take care of Ethnic Germans, the Nazi soldiers, German police forces, occupying forces, and often participate in unethical deeds.
- Nurses were also sent to East to find Aryan looking babies and children from Eastern families and kidnap them or remove them after their families were gassed or shot, to be raised in a German household. Wendy stated in Lidice, Czechoslovakia, near Prague, over 100 children were taken after the SS shot the men, deported the women and a few children to the camps, as retaliation for the murder of Himmler. Most of those children were never returned to the Czech lands after the war. That is just one example.
- Some women were prostitutes or sought relationships with Nazi elite to further their lives, careers, money.
- Many women worked in the concentration camps. Participated in gassing, shooting, beatings, medical experiments, etc.
These are just some of the things female Germans did during the war. How do we face and tell those stories within our family tree? Or do we continue to ignore it and hope it goes away?
Whether your ancestors participated in war atrocities or were U.S. born and bred bank robbers, murderers, gangsters, prostitutes, fraudsters, or whatever "naughty" things they did, I invite you to research their lives. Research the historical context of the places and times they lived. Write their stories.
Don't be afraid to look at the bad parts of your past. That is where great healing and peace can be found. All it takes is one person in the family brave enough to research and tell those stories and we all heal.
Do you need private support with this? I offer facilitation/coaching sessions where we can work 1-1 on your research and healing. I also offer many workshops to help you explore this on your own.
If you would like to explore more of your research and family stories and start writing those stories, sign up for my free workshop which includes a 28-page workbook, Healing the Roots: Words, Wounds, Wisdom. It might just change how you look at yourself and your family and help you start writing the stories.
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