“The Woman in Red” can mean many things in our culture. She can be the woman that bears the shame of cultural stigmatization that comes with being female and feminine. The biologically associated monthly “red” cycle that reminds her that she is female. This cycle at various points in history was so stigmatized that some ancient civilizations considered menstruation sorcery or witchcraft.
Red is a color of passion, fire, and often associated with love. I have also known it to be associated as a color of sensuality and seduction. In this context, the woman in red may be seen as a “temptress” by some. We’ve all heard of red-light districts and communities where brothels and prostitution are present.
Red can be a metaphor for standing out, as in the “scarlet letter”—a stigmatization of shame, regret, humiliation, or despair. This concept was introduced by the novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. Set in a Puritan community in Massachusetts, Hester Prynne conceives a child as the result of an affair. The town makes a public display of her choices by making her wear a letter “A,” which stands for “adultery.”
Finally, the woman in red can indicate someone that is bold, courageous, no longer hiding in colors of neutrality but rather choosing to make a statement by embracing the bold hue of red. I can recall, as a child, being told that red wasn’t a nail polish for little girls. The adage cautioned, “Children should be seen and not heard,” and this message was clear to me–I should be barely seen and certainly not heard. I learned that it’s exhausting work to try to anticipate another person’s reaction to me, and it can create a great deal of anxiety. Over time, I’ve learned to stop hiding and to show up as the most loving, authentic version of myself in the moment, wherever I go.
Perhaps the woman in red can be all of the above. Depending on what phase of life you find yourself, you might find that you can relate to many facets of being this archetype of a woman in red.
More than any definition or potential metaphor that I’ve explored, what resonates most for me is that I have red blood running through my veins, pumping this incredible genetic life force to every vital organ of my body. More important than any idea, opinion, or label that any man, woman, relative, co-worker, neighbor, or human being can put on me is the lens through which I see myself. My self-perception and self-beliefs matter more than the opinions of others.
To keep hold of my personal power and peace of mind, the voice of God and my inner voice must outweigh all other voices around me.
Seeing myself through God’s eyes and defining my strength, beauty, courage, and shortcomings though my own self-perception is critical to the completed work of self love and Divine love.
When I accepted Christ, I accepted the work of the blood of Christ on the cross. I believe that this means I can be free of any genetic, generational trauma, predispositions towards mental or physical illness, and of family histories that run in my bloodline. In other words, whatever maladaptive, negative patterns ran in my bloodline and whatever generation curses ran in my family, it stopped running when it ran into me.
No matter where I came from, my life—past, present, and future—is now under the blood of Christ. Colossians 1:19-22 describes, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross….” This doesn’t mean denying or minimizing the pain I have experienced but rather realizing that I can address, acknowledge, and then give these experiences to God so I can make peace through the blood of Christ. What lies before me becomes far more important than what lies behind me. As long as this red blood is running through my veins, I have an opportunity to write a new chapter with each new sunrise.
It doesn’t matter where or how I start—or you start—but how I choose to finish. No matter what we have experienced, a few bad chapters do not equal a bad life. We can own our femininity, our beauty, our power, our boldness, our truth, and the fire-red passion that burns within us. The blood that runs through our veins at this very moment means that our life’s work is not yet done!
Michigan born, Texan at heart, global citizen, Junice (J-Rock) Rockman enjoys delving into the deep waters of conversations that invite authenticity, healing, and connection. Lover of yoga, nature, libraries, and studying abroad, she embraces each day and new person she meets with wonderment and curiosity. Her passion for facilitating conversations that help humanity heal is expanded through her work as a journalist, media correspondent, neurophychotherapist (LPC), and public policy advocate. While out in nature, she often remembers lessons learned growing up from her Nigerian-Native-Irish American grandmother who would tell her, “Put your feet in the earth’s soil; feel God’s creation. Look to the plants to nourish and find healing for yourself through God’s creation. Quiet your anxious heart, listen to the sound of the wind—hear God’s creation. You are one with Creation; you are one with GOD.”