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Posted on:  Oct 4, 2016 @ 7:00 Posted in:  From the Tale, Power/Leadership
I stand between the opposing walls of my walk-in closet, one side lined with business wear and the other with my supplementary, wardrobe categories: casual, evening, yoga and visits with my mother. I’m selecting from my extensive collection of gray, black and navy suits, white and cream, tailored shirts, black and navy pumps, and matching purses — all monotone, subdued, sexless and very expensive.
I don’t even glance at the other wall, with its splashes of scarlet-red and midnight-blue, and full display of my boot fetish. There is no way in hell I’d let even a peep of the other me squeak out at the office — the one who emerges from this closet on weekends wrapped in delicious, feminine folds of sensuous fabric and bold color, and the thigh-high, sex appeal of stiletto-heeled boots.
With the deeper vision of my dream knowing, I detect the warrior-like squaring of my shoulders, and the clenched muscles in my abdomen and at the base of my spine as I don my dark-suited armor and fortify myself for battle in a man’s world.
Every morning I do a version of this routine, and then spend the rest of the day in a state of constant vigilance, knowing that I have to act like a man, actually a better man than all the rest, while somehow still displaying subtle indications of my womanhood. Unspoken rules dominate my actions, derived from a fine, balancing point between beauty and brains, the secret boys’ club ethos, and the even-more-secret, girl-against-girl rivalry. This is the price of my power and success, and of retaining my privileged membership in the upper ranks of the corporate world.
I’ll be totally honest with you; I was a reluctant recruit to the notions that men too are wounded by our patriarchal world and the negation of the feminine aspects of our human nature, and that they need women’s empathy and support in their healing.
Then one day, my best female friend challenged me. I’d been sharing with her my exploration of the Goddess, the sacred feminine and magic, and my recent healing work with my mother and feminine nature. She stopped me midstream and asked, “What about men and their wounding, Karen? How are you going to help them heal?”
My response was something along the lines of, “Not my problem. Let them figure it out on their own.”
Not long afterwards, the Goddess came to me in a dream and gave me my marching orders, “I want my Beloved back.” And from there, many dreams and healing moments later, I realized that the tear in the outside culture between men and women was inside of me. And that I could only mend this tear, inner and outer, by extending the same loving concern and compassion for the wounding and pain of men as I did for myself and for my women kin.
Man or woman, gay, trans or straight, victim or privileged, we’re all born into a misogynist world that force feeds and constrains us within narrow, damaging male and female stereotypes and roles. For some the harm is direct and brutal, for others it’s more subtle and subtext, and none of us can escape the ever-present cultural negation of women’s ways, values and spirituality, and the mirror distortion and limitation of men and masculinity.Your Gendered Tear
In this exercise, I invite you to explore the gendered tear inside of you, but gently so.
This week marks the two year anniversary of the UN’s HeForShe Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality. HeForShe invites men to join and support women in the fight for women’s equality and strives to reframe feminism from its man-hating stigma to a movement that seeks to benefit men and women alike by embracing the feminine side of our humanity.
My soul responds to this initiative and its mandate with a big yes! In the many seasons of my life — from my academic studies of feminism, gender issues and Goddess theology, my work as a gender equity consultant, my perilous healing journey with my own woman’s story in a misogynist world, my travels with the Goddess into the mysteries of the sacred feminine, and my Path of She writings — I’ve been on the trail of the lost powers and ways of the feminine elements of our humanity.
In my journey, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: what ails humanity, men and women alike, is the degradation and repression of the feminine half our nature that holds not only our nurturing and emotive capacities, but also our anchor in Mother/matter: our bodies, the natural world and the mysteries of the Divine feminine.
I would add that we women have to reach back, SheForHe, so we can heal our world together.Walking in the Other’s Shoes
The saying goes that we can’t understand another person until we walk a mile in his/her shoes. This most definitely holds true in the case of men and women. Only by actively increasing our awareness of the other gender can we begin to understand the world through their eyes and experiences.
Posted on:  Jul 26, 2015 @ 10:00 Posted in:  From the Tale
“Did I ever tell you the story of my grandmother’s Great Aunt Beatrice?” I say, “She was the lone wild woman in my mother’s line. She refused to behave as a well-brought-up British lady and started to hang out with suffragettes instead of marrying the man her father chose for her. Her family declared her insane, locked her up in an asylum, and that was the end of Beatrice. My grandmother first told me this dismal tale when I was a little girl, probably to scare me to death, and still loves to warn me of the dangers of being an uppity woman. I’m not sure things have changed that much, at least not for me.”
“You could be right,” Jules says, “But that kind of thinking has done a whole lot of harm to the women in our families. So maybe it’s time to try something different. Maybe you’ve got a bit of Aunt Beatrice in you, waking up and ready to try on some wildness.”