Jupiter in Scorpio and Women's Horror

The Girl in the Green Ribbon, Jennifer Brown, 2011

The Girl in the Green Ribbon, Jennifer Brown, 2011

Jupiter is an interesting planet to watch. The transits aren't as slow as Pluto's, which can last over 12 years (16 in Capricorn). One lifetime isn't long enough to see Pluto transit through all of the signs. But Jupiter has one year transits, so every 12 years we have a chance to view each sign through a magnifying glass, albeit tempered by the rest of the space weather out there. Themes are played out in public. Problems are made visible, too big to ignore.

Jupiter in Libra, from September 9, 2016 - October 9, 2017, spent the year opposing Uranus in Aries and squaring Pluto in Capricorn, at times creating a T-square that was like a taut bow, firing off flaming arrows. Libra, sign of harmony, beauty, justice, and loving relationships, is in many ways a sign of women. The newspapers and polls predicted we would have a woman president, women wore pantsuits to the polls in solidarity, and instead the US elected a man far, far less qualified. He's a sexual predator and white supremacist too, but then so was Jefferson. Jupiter in Libra reminded many of our nation's unjust history. It brought us the Women's March. It gave us a better understanding of just how disharmonious America is right now, and for many, a renewed commitment to social justice. And just before moving into Scorpio, at 28 Libra, separating from his last exact opposition to Uranus, Jupiter thrust Harvey Weinstein into the spotlight.

The story broke in the New York Times on October 5th. It caught fire. Women started sharing stories of men harassing and assaulting them with the hashtag MeToo. On October 10th, Jupiter moved into Scorpio. And what I see being magnified is women's horror. True horror isn't a fictional monster hiding in the woods. True horror is a real, flesh and blood monster who terrorizes you behind closed doors, but doesn't really have to hide it, because everybody knows about the terror, and you are told in so many ways that it doesn't matter. They know he is a monster; sometimes they even abet his crimes. And at the same time they don't believe you. They silence you and say you caused your own victimhood. They tell you in so many ways that the ugliness must be inside of you. True horror is living with the monster in your office, in your home, in your school, day after day.

What I mean by women's horror is what Mikaella Clements wrote of the insidious darkness hiding in Jane Austen's novels on October 13th. "There’s no need to step outside the gate," she writes. "The call is coming from inside the house." She points to the character of Mr. Woodhouse in Emma, the father who monitors Emma and her guests so closely that he won't even let them eat their fill. Emma will never leave her horribly needy, vampiric, surveillant father, so much so that at the end of the book Emma and Mr. Knightly continue living with him after their marriage. Emma has always lived with a monster in the house.

Authors today are still writing of the insidious horror of just being a woman on Earth. In The New Scream Queens, Nathan Scott McNamara reviews Argentinian Mariana Enriquez's 2017 collection Things We Lost in the Fire. The title story of that collection is based on the true story of Maira Maidana, whose boyfriend lit her on fire and then turned off the taps, following her around the house with a blanket and a bottle of alcohol while she tried first the shower, then both of the sinks. She survived, and feared him so much that at first she told people she lit herself on fire. Enriquez posits within the story that this might be the origin of the Burning Woman movement in Argentina, a society in which women help each other burn themselves. It’s sad that it’s not hard to believe. On October 17th, I learned about Nxivm, a cult where women are told they’re joining a kind of empowerment sorority, and end up branded with the cult leader’s initials.

In The Husband Stitch, published in Her Body and Other Parties this month, Carmen Maria Machado writes the macabre tale of the girl with the green ribbon as a feminist horror story. The woman’s husband wants to know about her ribbon, wants to touch it, but she won’t let him. He accuses her of keeping secrets. “It’s not a secret,” she tells him, “It’s just mine...am I not allowed this one thing?” He will not leave it alone. Throughout the story she offers her body up for his pleasure, receiving little, if any, pleasure from him in return. When she gives birth, she hears her husband joking with the doctor about “the extra stitch.” The husband stitch refers to a stitch given to a woman where childbirth has torn the skin between her anus and vagina, to make her vagina tight again.

In Jane Dykema’s article, “What I Don’t Tell My Students About the Husband Stitch,” published the day Jupiter moved into Scorpio, she writes that she could not find “reliable” information about the husband stitch, meaning information presented objectively, with authority. The words pop up over and over again on pregnancy message boards, women telling other women. Another kind of whisper network. Dykema writes of being a woman and not being believed, even sometimes by her husband, who was reluctant to call the gas company when she smelled gas because he didn’t smell it. There were in fact gas leaks. Women’s horror is a life where even your senses are suspect. Women’s horror is that we are not allowed to confirm our own reality. Reality, like everything else, is the domain of men.

I think stories that the patriarchy has silenced, and stories about being silenced by the patriarchy, will grow louder through the fall of 2018. What other Scorpionic themes do you see rising from the depths already with Jupiter in Scorpio? Feel free to share in the comments.