Women speak up: the sexual misconduct allegations in the US

(23 November 2017) The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented wave of sexual misconduct allegations.  Since the New York Times expose of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on October 5th, there has been a steady stream of women (and some men) coming forward with accusations against the likes of actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis CK (pictured here), Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, and most recently Charlie Rose.  Dozens of high profile men in the fields of politics, entertainment, and journalism have been accused of various types of sexual misconduct, up to and including sexual assault.

It has been a time of reckoning for powerful men who have long enjoyed legal and moral immunity from similar accusations in the past.  Previously, they could use their power to protect themselves by either threatening to blackball a young, aspiring actor or staffer or by buying silence through payoffs and non-disclosure agreements.   But recently something seems to have changed.  As a reflection of women's increased status and confidence, 21st century American society as a whole has become less willing to look the other way or dismiss the accusations merely as a private matter between adults.  These high-achieving alpha males are now on the defensive as women are asserting their rights as citizens with equal rights who will no longer tolerate abusive behaviour.

Initially, I was puzzled how I could make sense of this phenomenon in astrological terms.  When something so overarching like this occurs, it is tempting to think of it in general terms such as through transit alignments or sign placements.  I know that Western tropical astrologers have suggested that Jupiter's recent entry into tropical Scorpio could be one way to make sense of it.  Jupiter rules legal matters and Scorpio represents sex, among other things, so you have a series of legal scandals involving sexual conduct. 

That is an interesting perspective although I am struck how much this is mostly an American phenomenon.  The Jupiter in Scorpio idea is a global transit and yet most of the high profile cases are confined to the US.  If the Jupiter in Scorpio explanation was the most salient factor, one would think there would be more cases elsewhere in the world.  So far, that hasn't really happened.  And, of course, since I prefer using the Indian sidereal zodiac, the Jupiter in tropical sign of Scorpio theory has an asterisk next to it. 

Masculine planets and the USA

That is why I started to focus on the horoscope of the USA.  What is striking about the US chart is how afflicted the male planets are.  Both the Sun and Mars, the two male planets par excellence, have been under heavy affliction for a couple of months. And that captures another key characteristic to this wave of accusations -- it is not just about the connections between justice and sex, but it is an undermining of male power and dominance by women who are no longer willing to succumb to silent acquiescence.  The wave of sexual misconduct allegations should be seen also a reflection of the growing power and influence exerted by women in US society and a restriction upon unchecked male privilege.

The Sun is the male ying to the Moon's female yang and together they comprise an interdependent whole.  The Sun represents the male principle, as well as the father and the notion of authority.  In mundane charts such as the nation-state, it usually refers to government. This year, the Sun (22 Gemini) is directly opposed by slow-moving Pluto (22 Sagittarius).  Pluto-Sun opposition and square transits are notoriously difficult and usually coincide with a loss of vitality and a breakdown in the (masculine) ego. 

Certainly, we can interpret the stormy first year of the presidency of Donald Trump as part of this symbolic influence.  Trump's bullying machismo (Sun) isn't working to win him any friends as his approval ratings remain at historic lows.  Pluto is blocking his ability to project his ego onto the country.  As a result, the government has been in a permanent state of crisis since he took office.  That is the effect of Pluto blocking the energy of the Sun as Trump's White House struggles to stay ahead of the latest crisis du jour.

But we can step back a bit and see the Sun as representing men and the masculine principle as a whole.  The traditional default towards male power has been interrupted these past few weeks with all of these sexual misconduct charges.   We can see how this is operating more specifically these past several weeks through the transits to Mars.

Men are from Mars

As we know, "men are from Mars", as the red planet is seen as the quintessentially male planet.  It is the more sexual of the two male planets and it has been subject to a rare and simultaneous double affliction by malefics Saturn and Ketu, aka the South Lunar Node.  Saturn (28 Scorpio) stationed opposite Mars (0 Gemini) back in the late summer and is still very close to its opposition aspect within a couple of degrees. 

Previously, I had assumed this double affliction could lead to some kind of military action by the US, possibly with North Korea.  We did see some saber-rattling, but the military actions were quite minor (Niger, Yemen).   But we could also think about the afflictions through a more cultural prism as representing difficulties for males, especially in areas of sexuality.  Mars not only represents the sex act, it also typifies the warrior or those who wield executive power.  It is very much attached to the symbolism of the alpha male who must assert himself and his wishes above all others.   

Saturn opposite Mars therefore blocks or hampers the male's ability to exert his power on others, including females.  Ketu's influence can be seen as a distorting effect upon normal male (Mars) behaviour.  While male sexual transgressions are common across most cultures throughout history, the Ketu influence on Mars here may embody how these transgressions are now viewed: as distortions and perversions from the norm.  The double affliction to Mars therefore highlights how traditional male assumptions have been pushed back by women speaking up.  So we could ask: are there other times in US history when women also asserted themselves against patriarchal assumptions? 

1973: the high water mark of Second Wave Feminism

One period that stands out in this regard is the early 1970s when the activism of the Women's Movement of the 1960s had begun to produce tangible effects.  The push for the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) to the US constitution began in 1972 and appeared to crest in early 1973.  Ultimately, however, the campaign would come up a few states short of the 38 necessary to pass the constitutional amendment.  But 1972 and 1973 were clearly the time when women's rights were in the ascendant.  Helen Reddy's feminist anthem I Am Woman hit #1 in the music charts in December 1972.  And perhaps most importantly of all, the US Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade making abortion legal was handed down on January 22, 1973. 

This legal victory is as good as any to signify the high water mark of the women's movement at that time.  Interestingly, we see a similar pattern of affliction to male planets. The assertion of women's rights therefore correspond with afflictions to male planets and reflect a time when traditional male power was being questioned and undermined.  Again both male planets -- the Sun and Mars -- were subject to affliction by malefic planets.  Transiting Ketu (23 Gemini) was exactly conjunct the Sun (22 Gemini) thus reflecting a major shift in gender dynamics as women took legal control over their bodies for the first time.  Transiting Saturn (20 Taurus) was in a wide 10-degree conjunction with Mars (0 Gemini) after having stationed retrograde in October 1972 just two degrees short of an exact conjunction at 28 Taurus.  Saturn symbolized the denial or blocking of traditional male power (Mars) to dictate and control female reproductive matters.  

Gender roles in flux

It's worth noting that the women's movement suffered a setback later in 1973 as the E.R.A campaign lost its momentum during that summer.  Not coincidentally, malefics Saturn and Ketu had conjoined the natal Venus (12 Gemini) by that time.  In other words, the Saturn and Ketu influences that had previously weakened masculine power had now moved to a place in the sky where women collectively lost their karmic confidence.  The pendulum again shifted back towards men and traditional gender roles, albeit not without leaving a legacy of change for equality.  In that sense, it is possible to see these evolving gender dynamics as part of an ongoing tug-of-war between traditional patriarchal attitudes and a vision of society that is grounded more on notions of sexual equality.  The gender pendulum swings back and forth as relative power shifts according to changing demographic, technological and economic circumstances.

I would speculate that the current movement against abusive male behaviour is likely to burn itself out as Saturn moves further away from its opposition with Mars in the coming weeks.  In addition, the Jupiter transit to the Sun in December is likely to signify some retrenchment of male power.  A more significant setback for the aspirations of women could occur in 2018 when Saturn opposes Venus for much of the year.  So just as 2017 could turn out to the year of rising female consciousness against traditional male privilege, I would think 2018 could see some major setbacks on that front.  That doesn't mean women's right will be pushed back to square one.   As in the early 1970s, there will likely be a dialectical process of progress followed by a period of regression.  History never moves in a straight line.