Vanessa Osage is a journeywoman. On a voyage of remediation to mend a loophole in the schooling system. One that has concealed the historic sexual exploitation of children. And a governance model – that unfortunately – still fails to adequately protect and serve our most treasured assets. Our children.
Vanessa is a sexuality educator, president of the Amends Project and founder of the Justice CORPS.
As a sexuality educator, she operates on the fringes of sexual health. Her personal mandate is to pull this conversation out of the perimeter and into the mainstream. She does so by honouring this topic with the honesty and reverence it really deserves.
Her work has drawn criticism. Vanessa, however, is no stranger to critique.
As a child, Vanessa was condemned by her school leadership team for speaking up about an incident of sexual overreach that occurred on school grounds.
Vanessa was in attendance at a prestigious private boarding school in Massachusetts – New England. The perpetrator was the school groundskeeper. When she approached the school leadership team for support and guidance. She was muted. Her story invalidated. Her funding revoked.
The groundskeeper stayed in role until Vanessa returned as an adult. She insisted on speaking at a school graduation event. She hit the podium and valorously delivered a speech that uncloaked the entire cover up.
The aftermath. The resignation of the headmaster. The instigation of a restorative justice programme. Surely the beginning of a journey into remediation?
However this journeywoman was not to be deterred.
This conversation explores Vanessa’s story through the lens of a failing patriarchal system of governance and self protection. We delve deep into the social and fragile construct of masculinity. And remind ourselves of why the systematic and – what can feel like – innocent humiliation of boys is the source of these offences.
We discuss why boys should be taught to embrace and nurture both masculine and feminine energies. And to deny men the benefits of emotional intelligence is a disservice to men as much as those who are harmed by men. Our societal norm however has delegated emotional responsibility to women.
Men by far are the perpetrators and concealers in each and every one of these stories. Traditional masculine values – ones that seem revocable – are now starting to harm us.
This is a conversation – not of sexual abuse, but betrayal. In her own words, Vanessa reminds us that the undertone was sexual, but the overtone was an abuse of power.
We need more conversations that support what it means to be a sexual being, at the time when sexual maturity is happening. And boys should be taught to respect and honour that right.
Vanessa is the embodiment of her story. A seeker. And a journeywoman who in the face of adversity ran towards the sunrise. She journeyed from coast-to-coast with the barebones of an automobile, a few clothes and some basic rations. This revealed to her an America, honest people and an opportunity to heal.
On her travels. Those painfully seasoned eyes were able to see the real gritty honest heart of America. It revealed its tragedy, its triumph and its kindness. Vanessa’s words. Not mine.
This conversation will echo in its eternity based on those three words alone. Tragedy. Triumph and Kindness. For me, that is Vanessa Osage.
Warning: This episode contains explicit language and a topic of discussion that some may find distressing.
RESOURCESVanessa Osage: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Bookography
Book: Can’t Stop the Sunrise: Adventures in Healing, Confronting Corruption & the Journey to Institutional Reform
The Amends Project: Justice CORPS Initiative
The Amends Project: Support the Movement
Thrive Global: Vanessa Osage: “Be authentic and imperfect”
Knkx: Boston Globe’s Investigation Into Widespread Sex Abuse In New England Private Schools
Boston Globe: Private schools, painful secrets
Michigan Daily: In defence of the female gamer
CBS News: 11 former New Hampshire prep school staffers accused of abuse
BBC News Feature: The boarding school ‘monster’ who always walked free
The Needle Blog: Brookside School, nr Ludlow, Shropshire
White Collar Week Podcast: Ep. 17: #TruthHeals: Systemic Abuse & Institutional Reform with Vanessa Osage, feat. Guest Co-Host Chloe Coppola
RELATED EPISODESEpisode #10: Correcting Reality with Craig Stanland
Episode #15: The Invalidation of Experience with Candice Mama
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