A few weeks ago I took a self-defense class at the Brooks Trailhead store. It wasn’t something that I had intended on doing, but it was free and I thought, huh, why not learn something new? I consider myself a strong woman with fairly good boundaries, so I didn’t think I had much to learn. I was humbled, to say the least.
The first thing we were taught to do is take up space. Wonder Woman style. Legs spread with hands on our hips. Just standing in that way boosted my self-confidence.
Next, look people directly in the eyes. Don’t look away, that is a sign of weakness, of submission.
Don’t smile. What?! But that is what I do to diffuse an awkward uncomfortable situation!! I want to be kind and friendly.
Next, it’s okay to not be nice. Damn, two in a row. Turns out I am not standing up to the test of being the strong woman I thought I was.
Be unapologetic. Oh, that’s a good one.
It’s okay to demand attention and respect.
Be clear and direct.
Use your voice.
As I left the lesson my mind was swimming in a new reality. Everything that we were just taught were very masculine traits. We, as women, were just taught to use masculine energy. It hit me like a load of bricks… this isn’t what we are taught at all!!
We as women are taught to be quiet, not express our opinions, to be small and not take up space. I am suppose to apologize and look away if I bump into someone, feeling guilty and disrespectful, less than.
From there the mind took me on this wild ride. Looking at the masculine and feminine. How it plays out in my life. What I had been taught, what I have embodied. Where else do these energies play out in life around me?
As irony had it, Wonder Woman was just released in the theaters, so I jumped at the opportunity. I am a bit of a sucker for super hero movies, and was stoked to see one that focused on a strong female role. The story of a tribe of strong women, preparing to protect the world. So fitting…and by the end, so depressing. Why war? Why so much hatred and fighting. Why conflict and power? Why death and control?
For me it is one word: patriarchy.
Let’s be honest, there has been talk about gender equality, racism, women’s rights, as well as other feminine movements for the last fifty years, and increasingly so in the last six months. We’ve heard the word patriarchal system, and that we live in a man’s world. People mention the masculine and the feminine. Duality. Separation. Competition…. It can be down right confusing, if not draining.
As a white woman growing up in middle class America, I never really noticed a separation between the genders. At least not consciously.
One of my more clear childhood memories, maybe around the age of 8 or so, was a curiosity of what it meant to be a boy. Something within me thought that maybe life would be easier, perhaps even better if I identified with the male gender. I think I noticed that girls were often identified as being weaker, or less capable. I wanted to play baseball with the boys, not softball with the girls…. because I really wanted to prove that I was an equal despite my ponytail and female bits. It was a desire, but the desire didn’t become reality.
As my body began to blossom into it’s predetermined goddess shape, I suppressed it. Hiding behind compressing sports bras, a fat free diet and baggy clothes. I was afraid to be a woman.
Over the last few years I have been studying the concept of the masculine and the feminine. The more I look at it, the more clarity has come to light. Truth is, there are a lot of layer to this onion… and a lot of tears shed over it’s potent reality.
When I say masculine, we often identify with a man. While feminine is often identified with a woman. Sure, there is truth to that to some extent… but we are both. We embody both masculine and feminine qualities. It is the yin and the yang. The lightness and the dark. One cannot exist without the other.
When we think of masculine energy we often think of this direct, powerful, forceful, straight energy. To be literal, think of a man’s anatomy. One pointed. Penetrating. Masculine energy is often associated with the sun; hot and direct. It is the wheel house of the mind. Problem solving, logical, scientific, working, protecting, focused. The masculine is the part of us that is direct with our words, intentional with our actions, clear with the plans and the execution. The masculine takes knowledge to move forward. The masculine is full of doubt, and needs proof to be considered valuable. The masculine is compartmentalized, strategic, and conformed.
Feminine energy is the opposite. It is soft, compassionate loving energy. It is moon energy; diffuse and cool. It is emotional and unpredictable. Like a woman’s body, soft, shapely and receptive. There isn’t force, but ease. It is acknowledgment of the connection in all things, all actions. It is feeling into the surroundings, seeing the larger picture. The feminine is what creates community, that takes care of the tribe with nurturing and nourishment. The feminine dances like a butterfly one moment, and is taken to her knees by sadness the next. The feminine relies on the intuition. The drive to do something that feels right, rather than what is proven to be right. The feminine connects with magic, with the unknown, with the energies of life, the unseen, the Universe. The feminine is the innate wisdom that transcends explanation.
As human’s we have been living in a very masculine driven world for centuries. So much so that we may not even identify with it. The separation of energy is almost as clear as the separation of genders. The masculine are men, and the feminine is woman.
Women have been repressed for so long that we can’t even see that truth most of the time. The imbalance isn't just felt by women however, it affects the men of this world… as well as the world as a whole. Men are expected to “man up” and not show emotion. Women are expected to be skinny and pretty… instead strong and wise.
In this patriarchal world we live in the masculine drives everything. The government, religion, and education. It is so deeply intrenched that it can be overwhelming to even consider how to free ourselves from that grip. We choose money over the environment (human’s life blood). We choose power over morals. We choose domination over inclusion.
This is what happens when the masculine doesn’t allow the feminine to co-exist.
Young girls are told “Girls who eat little get asked out to dinner.” Woman have been made into objects. We may have been told that we would be marriage material if we lost 20 pounds. What is this obsession, as women, with being small? Why must we be skinnier, and prettier to be of greater worth?
Why? Because man has asked us to be. The masculine is threatened by the unpredictability of the feminine. The masculine says… “I don’t get you, so I must control you. I can be more powerful if you are smaller and weaker. I can dominate you, just do what I say.”
And this power transcends gender. It includes EVERYTHING that isn’t understood. I can’t put this into a clear defined box, so let me rule you. You’re attracted to the same sex? I don't get you so I must control you. You worship to a different God? I must be right, you are wrong, I will dominate you. You look different than me, you must be weaker and controlled. Overpowering, domineering, compartmentalizing…. rubbish.
The masculine says “I want to put an oil pipeline in… here is the straight line… who cares about clean water. I am here, I want to go there. Go. Do not question me, I have made up my mind. I am right and what ever you say is wrong. I have made up my mind, there is not backing down.’
That patriarchal power is present everywhere. Driving a car: go fast, run that red light, heart pumping, horns honking… the only emotion that is allowed to be with the masculine is anger.
This beautiful feminine energy has only been allowed to be expressed by being small, and sweet. Conforming, and not taking up space. Not asking questions, not deviating from the straight line, no longer listening to the inner guide that tells us to live differently, openly, lovingly.
The masculine world has shaped us to be more or less one or the other. Men are strong, women are weak. Men can yell, women must be quiet and polite.
So if the world has been moving through evolution with so much masculine and so little feminine, how can we make a shift to bring a balance and an inclusion of the two?
It isn’t through “militant feminism” as one eighty year old woman described it. Feminism of the 60’s was very much masculine in it’s approach. It was hard, driving and forceful. It was loud, overbearing and controlling. To create balance with the masculine, it isn’t by bringing in more masculine energy.
With that masculine approach to feminism we were taught that asking for help was a sign of weakness. We must work, take care of the home and raise a family…oh, and it must be done perfectly. We’ve swept up in the speed of life, the list of to do’s. Moving from one accomplishment to the next without checking in to see how we actually feel about our choices or our actions. We allowed the mind to make the decisions instead of the heart. We do things to please other’s instead of honoring our own needs. We cook meals from boxes in microwave ovens instead of creating something with our hands from the fruits of the earth.
Adding more masculine to the already imbalanced masculine isn’t the way.
We some how got to where we are.
Stranded. Weak. Separated from source, happiness and connection. Confused as what it means to be a woman. To be a goddess. To live with our innate power. (The same is true for men, beautifully spoken by Emma Watson).
So if the feminism we were taught isn’t the way to healing (ourselves, humanity, the environment), what is?
It is by bringing in the Divine Feminine energy. Standing firmly on the earth. Connecting to compassionate loving source. It is through brining connection and inclusion. Love that doesn’t back down. Compassion that’s isn’t apologetic. A voice that is direct and full of truth and wisdom. The Divine feminine lives confidently in the body of a goddess. She’s shapely yet strong. She nurtures herself, her tribe, and her environment. She ask’s for help and support when she needs it, and receives those gifts when offered. She doesn’t cower to conflict, instead she opens to it with curiosity. She has clear boundaries and defends her land of priorities. She holds space in her loving arms for the whole world. She opens her heart and honors her intuition. She loves herself. Her body. Her imperfections. She expands with wisdom. She is... everything.
As women start to embody and embrace their Divine Feminine, as will men. And instead of living in a world of patriarchy we will living in a world of divinity. A beautiful dance between the beauty of the Divine Feminine the Divine Masculine that yearns to be expressed. The strongest power of all, an inclusion of both.