Feminism is not the antidote

I think that feminist discourse is necessary to articulate blind areas from our cultural conditioning. It helps to counter the weight of the heavy burdens we all carry within us from the patriarchy. It helps to position ourselves, and give form and context to a process of change. However, I do not think it is the medicine that will heal the wounds caused by the patriarchy. What’s more, when feminist discourse polarizes and becomes “what the patriarchy is not” that is when it starts to get dangerous, casting a big shadow on that terrible external beast, and not leaving any room for honest self-reflection and compassion. I’ve found that, in order to do deeper healing with the sacred feminine, I have had to evaluate and re-evaluate my relationship with the rhetoric of feminist theories. I have had to ask who is my inner masculine? who is my inner feminine? what beliefs do they hold? And how do they treat each other?

The imbalance, or sickness, in society is built around a tight mentality of right and wrong, control and manipulation. We have lost a fundamental trust in life (the feminine) and separated ourselves so far to depletion…depletion of the earth, of society and of our very souls. When feminism stays in the realm of concepts and theory it can easily take on the qualities of our culture’s sickness and just give them a new paint job under the disguise of anti-patriarchy. For me, genuinely stepping out of the patterns of patriarchy has been about allowing the feminine to flourish in the context of compassion, softness, listening, intuition and love; qualities that political rhetoric or ideologies inherently lack and fail to embody. So, for me, the true revolution has been to plunge down beyond the words and ideas of patriarchy, feminism, right and wrong, and meet myself in my own heart, my own wounds, and in my own compassion.

We are all conditioned by our culture. We all carry the sickness inside of us. We all come from the human family that is embedded with centuries of wars, trauma, and injustice. Not one of us is separate from this, not one of us is untouched. It’s true that cultural wounds cut into different bodies in distinct ways and that it is crucial to recognize the shades and forms of cultural wounding in different groups of people in order to heal. The cultural wounding of a woman is different from that of a man living in the patriarchy, and for that they require different medicine. Often, for women the medicine is to speak up, often for men, the medicine is to begin to listen. If we look at this on an archetypal scale, the healing is the same: giving space to the voice of the feminine. This will benefit all individuals as we begin to acknowledge the damage caused by the imbalance of our patriarchal system.

The problem that I see with feminist rhetoric, however well intentioned, is that it stays frozen as a concept or an ideal. We create the ideas of what a modern or progressive person looks like…the words they use, the way they dress, the choices they make…and we try to fit into the idea before we have actually understand it from our own lived experience. In this way we begin to create more images of ourselves and, wanting to live up to these images, we exclude those culturally conditioned parts of ourselves that don’t reflect this concept. Excluding these parts creates a huge shadow; the beast becomes externalized. It is easy to criticize Trump, but much more difficult to see what parts of ourselves he reflects. More importantly, excluding these parts, punishing or rejecting them, will limit the depth of work we can do to truly liberate ourselves from our conditioning and stand up against the inequalities in our world.

On my path, I have often been faced with two images of myself that I have to hold with compassion in order to really listen to and liberate my heart. These images are polarized versions of a woman in our society today: the good girl and the rebellious feminist. It has surprised me over and over that the image of the “liberated woman” that I have constructed in my mind has nothing to do with the liberation of my heart. The good girl is not an image that I openly adhere to, it is not so much in the light of my personality, but you can bet she is present any time the feminist speaks up with something to prove to the world. Both extremes have their judgements about how I should behave and who I should be. When I have been able to dive deeply into the fear and shame of the good girl as well as the anger and righteousness of the feminist, I have been able to integrate these two voices and make choices that were not dependent on either of them, choices that were aligned with my deepest inner truth, not an image of who I am or am not. Unfolding the deeper truths of the heart is a powerful act of restoring the imbalance of our patriarchy, because it is giving voice to the feminine on a deeper, spiritual level, independent, but not exclusive of, gender or cultural conditioning. For me, it has been the true revolution in my life.

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