The Western Woman, the World's New Savior?
Early 2010 the New York Times launched a “special feminine news section” for women who are changing the world, and the Dalai Lama flattered many of us, when he declared that it will be the Western Woman who saves the world. Why didn’t I clap my hands gleefully? Because I felt an ancient fury rise from my gut. That women now are worthy of a special section in the news completely discard the fact that women have worked in the trenches since dawn to make the world a livable place. And with all due respect, your highness Dalai Lama, have you noticed that the Western women are already maxed out, having to be, do and get it all, all the while looking fabulous? To add saving the world to our to-do lists is honestly a bit much.
Yet something is stirring. The “divine feminine” that Vicky Nobel, Jean S Bolen, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and other courageous women were trying to reawaken three decades ago has gone mainstream, and for all I know, our (male) thought leaders are now jumping on the trendy wagon, adding 'women' as the saving grace ingredient to otherwise ineffective or lack of solutions to the crumbling patriarchal paradigm.
In Gloria Feldt’s recent book “No Excuse” she urges women to step into our power, and though I tend to agree that there are no more excuses for not claiming our power and taking responsibility for the lives and world we create and live, I wonder, what kind of quality and direction will this power take? What is women’s power exactly? Is this the same power his Holiness talks about?
Regardless, a vision is forming in the public mind: by Western women using their power (finally) and forging a feminine path, we will awaken and lead the world to a new planetary Nirvana. Amen to that! Halleluja too! But how?
What is this new ‘feminine path’? How will Western women save the world?
To be sure, I don’t know the answers, but I do know we need to humbly live the questions, and as I ask myself, I ask you. And let me be honest, the contrarian in me gets suspicious when something goes mainstream and a fashionable brand or slogan gets slapped onto a variety of (old) packages and products. Every other coach, spiritual teacher, organization and forward-thinking entreprenette is now frontiering the Divine Feminine and I wonder how much of the essence of the “Divine Feminine” gets lost in the translation to something appetizing, less evocative for the masses. I fear the call to radical action gets glossed over in new ten step programs to becoming divinely, powerfully feminine.
A man shared his heartfelt Apology to the Divine Feminine online and encouraged other men to sign it as a petition. I applaud his intention to help pave the way for new (mainstream) awareness around the dynamics of the divine gender dance, and how we each carry these ancient dynamics within us - until we decide not to. I would, however, love to take this a step deeper, and see men muster up the courage to offer not only their sincere apologies but also their complete reverence to real women in their lives, and live from that awareness (and visa versa). We have to own it to change it. I can only imagine the healing effects. Rather than perpetuating the separation of the ‘masculine/feminine’ archetypes, we could be nearing each other, and when we near each other, we hear anew, and who knows what kind of collaboration could occur?
The Divine Gender Dance
Let’s for a moment assume that the divine feminine isn’t gender specific and that feminine/masculine is part of the beautiful polarity of our very (unified) nature. One does not exist without the other. You know, the bees and blooms thing, the Shiva-Shakti dance, yin-yang flow or consciousness-creation cycle. Which ever you way you see it, co-creation happens through the dynamic duo of what we’ve named masculine and feminine energies. As for qualities, both women and men can be rational, receptive, furious, soft, egoistic, nurturing, warriors and caretakers, though of course culturally, certain behaviors have been validated more than others, and in this game, women have been and still are taught to curb their anger, look pretty and be nice while men gotta hide their tears, be competitive and show no fear. I think we can agree that by holding each other to these standards we’ve all lost and that part of the divine feminine would be to encourage human authenticity, period. Not to eradicate our differences, but to acknowledge them and build on them.
Not so Separate
Let’s for a moment also embrace the fact that patriarchy didn’t happen in a vacuum devoid of women, but that together, women and men, have created a deep-seated patriarchal culture over 2000 years, and that that culture is coming to its end as we know it. Mother Earth is gasping at our exploits and cracking at her seams. Old power structures are falling apart. The internet is connecting us like never before, and we are beginning to know too much to sit ignorantly back in a blame game. Equality by numbers in the work place and oval offices and leadership positions have long been a measure of how we’re doing on the gender value scale, and though women are now better educated, starting companies left and right and yes, being stirred into the mix as the saving grace, women are divining even deeper changes. We are becoming aware of our interconnectedness with Mother Earth and each other. We long to honor the sacred as inherent to life, experienced through our bodies, relationships, sexuality and self expression. By rejuvenating the divine feminine, we dream of replacing the patriarchy with a new, more harmonious and sustainable world.
Surely, his Holiness wasn’t handing out a mere ego-boost to energize women’s continued battle for leg-room in this world. Nor did he encourage us to forge ahead in some maddening, muscular attempt to prove how much BETTER we can do the world than men. In fact, I doubt he thinks this has much to do with doing. We’ve played that game of more, better, higher and longer forever, and we are exhausted, and so is Mother Earth, our kids, our husbands, the retails folks, the ad agencies, the politicians, the sweat shop laborers, even the billionaires and everyone we know. I think saving the world has more to do with being, and daring to tell the truth.
The personal is also political.
How we treat our bodies, ourselves and each other is how we treat the planet and create the world we live in by the choices we make.
On the very intimate level that means, how do you honor the sacred in yourself?
How do you live in, with and through the wisdom of your body?
How does your self relationship reflect in your values, lifestyle, relationships, work/vocation?
Maybe that means, you stop, simply stop your crazy race to be, do and have it all. Maybe that means getting into you body, to really feel everything there is to feel from the bottom up and listen to the truth within. Maybe that means treating your body and your sexuality as something holy and treasured. Maybe that means getting into your heart, literally, and come to the heart of who you are. Maybe it means willingness to stare the lies we live in the eyes and begin to tell ourselves, and those around us, the truth. Maybe it also requires digging deep into the darkness within and befriend the most primal part of ourselves, that surely isn’t sweet and nice, rather it’s fierce and furious. The primal (life)force of the feminine is creative and destructive, and in my mind, yes, we need this fury to tell the truth and make changes, in ourselves and our world. It may not look as pretty as we’d like it to be, but hey, the truth might just set us free in ways we could never have imagined. Are you willing to do this?
Being beyond the consumer.
On cultural level, maybe that means we stop considering ourselves consumers, sex objects, advertising targets, but start seeing ourselves as sacred, co-creators of the world, because, in our hearts, we know that for every action (thought, feeling...) there is a reaction. We don’t live in a vacuum, everything affects the collective, and each person’s choices matter. Perhaps that means we stop letting ourselves be numbed by the relentless onslaught of self-esteem depleting media manipulations, stop buying into the rat race of status, prestige and perfection, stop trying to live someone else’s life, stop proving ourselves worthy of attention and power, stop being in abusive relationships, stop compromising our inherent truth, stop victimizing, prostituting and loathing ourselves, stop blaming, comparing, criticizing others, just stop that sickening game alltogether, even for a moment, to experience, what else might be there. Then, we might actually begin to love ourselves. And when we love ourselves, we begin to trust ourselves. And when we love ourselves we can freely, compassionately love others. A lot of hole-filling choices, masks and needs might just fall away. We might see more clearly. We might feel closer to our self-authority. We might actually begin to feel utterly alive and begin to breathe with Mother Earth. A sweet thought to behold.
On institutional level, the political, money, resource and power games continue to play themselves out, and founders, owners, directors, managers, bankers, politicians and a whole slew of employees are working hard to ‘save’ the old ways, because, their livelihoods are wrapped up on these ‘old ways’. There’s a long held sense that we, the people, can’t mess or mesh with those in power, that we can’t change systems. That might be so. But call me hopeful and idealistic, I do believe in people’s power. I do believe that the ‘power people’ and ‘power structures’ only have power to the extent we give them our power. We, the people, make up the collective, our world, through each of our actions. This is so simple yet so profound. We can change the game.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for
We could dream up something that felt and looked more like ‘win-win’ for the collective, for the earth, for us all. Yes, we might have to think hard about our piece in the puzzle. We might have to acknowledge that we chose to give our power away because we don’t want to take responsibility. And yes, we are only human, and deep down, we just want to live and enjoy our lives. But to what extend are we truly enjoying our lives? Could we begin to play games that excite us, impassion us, fill us with hope and joy? Can we reignite a sense of wonder about the possibilities for what we can co-create? I would like to think so. Surely, I would rather engage with life than numb out in the dank, darkness of denial.
An Integral Human(e) Path
Forging a ‘strictly’ divine feminine path can easily perpetuate the distinction between the feminine and masculine qualities, between gender, and the roles women and men are given to play, and then, we’ve gotten nowhere. More than anything I think our task is to pave a divinely human path that favors mother earth, the heart, win-win and raw reality. A path that requires awareness of how the ingrained behavioral patterns and beliefs of the patriarchy in both men and women affect us, so we can shed those old skins, free ourselves from the chains of history, and allow for something fresh to emerge within and between us. A path of knowing we are one wild, wondrous interconnected universe, we are all part of the same intelligence, and that we are the ultimate co-creators of our reality and the state of the world. A path of truth telling, authentic expression and love of life. A path where each one of us matters more than we think.
What do you envision? What newness would you like to see?
What does the feminine path mean to you?