By the love of my foe…
About: The Feminine (R)evolution
Τhis site contains writing about all that has the potential to be born in dark and (r)evolutionary times.
The commentary, poetry, and essays on this blog spring from the heart of a woman, a mother of sons, and a gender warrior joining others today in the clarion call from our bodies today saying “enough is enough!” My writing explores themes of power and vulnerability, masculine and feminine, patriarchy, gender, and the territory – including the territory of the earth – where the personal has become newly political.
The seeds for all the great, progressive leaps in Western history have always been planted during trying times. When outer conditions were experienced as increasingly in-humane, the human soul responded through the work of courageous, (r)evolutionary artists, philosophers, theorists and theologians whose creative engagements coalesced to articulate more meaningful human truths to live by. The seedbed for democracy was planted this way, through stories written, revised, and debated over decades about a then ‘new’ “Man in the State of Nature.”
Today, we are again in such (r)evolutionary times. Though life on the surface reflects a confident, status quo, evidence of something new being born is all around, seeds planted where the darkness and weight of our culture’s hubris are felt and faced. Here, a new “notion of self”(Joanna Macy) is taking shape with an accompanying world view to support a more meaningful future for humanity and our earth.
For the last half-century, the pressures of Western, patriarchal capitalism and an increasingly alienating age of technology, have spawned a growing counter-movement that reflects a search for what it means to be meaningfully human. We see it in many areas of our culture: in a desired return to the body, meditation, metaphysics and inner-reflection, in facing and healing racial and gender trauma, in unravelling the scripts of patriarchal gender conditioning in search of more authenticity, and in discovering a relationship to nature that supports a
more sustainable, respectful engagement with a planet in peril. All of these counter-movements reflect a striving for deeper meaning, connection, authenticity, realness, a movement to grow our humanity through an honest, inward turn. This turn, which recognizes our all-t0o-human vulnerability, invites us to the territory of the feminine principle, territory historically diminished by the misconstruals and imbalances of a patriarchal worldview.
My writing, which could be said to align with the mounting definition of Fourth Wave Feminism, is informed by four, founding premises: Continue reading “About: the feminine (r)evolution”
She’s mad but she’s magic. There is no lie in her fire. – Charles Bukowski
On January 21st, 2017 between 3-5 million American women walked out their front door and onto the streets for the largest single-day protest the country had ever seen. One day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March proved a preamble to the foment of the unprecedented impact of the #MeToo movement that followed. There was more than enough evidence that a groundswell of American women were done with being “nice” and had simply had enough. Books released in 2018, like Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad, or Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her, brought laser focus to this reality, exploring the history of accomplishments attributable to women’s ferocity in taking action around circumstances that were simply no longer acceptable. In the days after the women’s march a conversation was mounting about women taking off in our country, reflecting, perhaps, the Dalai Lama’s prophecy that “the world will be saved by Western women.”
This broad display of angry, defiant women is progress, no doubt. The record level women and minorities elected during the mid-terms reflected this. It was something feminist writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of The Yellow Wallaper, written in 1892, could hardly have imagined during that early period of first wave feminism. Gilman’s character had found a kind of liberation through a ‘crazy’-madness where she began to challenge the status quo around her, but herein was a different kind of mad: angry mad, publicly angry mad, mad by the millions!
However, just as statistics about a rise in anxiety during the Trump presidency don’t tell the personal story of people’s experience of that anxiety, how it has changed them for better or worse, nor do statistics about the number of women (and their allies) who took to the streets tell the story of how women across America have experienced their anger, fed-up-ness and outrage. How it has over the last several years perhaps deepened their cynicism or, potentially, spawned a new level of empowerment and vision. This is the inside story. Continue reading “PART TWO: Strength – The Essence of Anger (3 of 5)”
Each experience of love nudges us toward the Story of Interbeing because it only fits into that story and defies the logic of Separation. ― Charles Eisenstein
I start on the screen of my choosing. I am on a zoom call, Dec. 6, 2017. Here, in encountering my isolation I forge two new relationships. The first was with the woman on the screen, a therapist and member of what Glennon Doyle in her best-selling memoir Love Warrior refers to as “the universal underground of sisterhood.” The screen is a compromise on our being together in physical presence, but this does not stop something memorable from happening that day because this is where it started. This is where the second relationship was born with the part of myself that had been trapped in the wallpaper of my own life for decades. Continue reading “PART TWO: Separation and Reconnection (2 of 5)”
Madness in Mad Times
In 1892, Charlotte Perkins Gilman published a short story titled The Yellow Wallpaper. Gilman’s female protagonist was relegated to an upstairs room by her husband, a doctor, for a ‘rest cure’ to address her ‘nervous depression, despair, and hysteria.’ (Gilman had been given this “treatment” for depression herself, by a Dr. Silas Mitchell).
Enclosed, trapped, powerless, and pathologized (gaslighted), Gilman’s character became intoxicated by the wallpaper in the room. In the first third of the story, we find her in what seems like a petty preoccupation with the wallpaper, irritated and angered by the pattern in it, the sallow, yellow color, the sheer incongruence of the design. But as the pages turn, her intrigue with the wallpaper grows, over time ‘finding’ a woman trapped within its patterned contours.
The story continues to chronicle the protagonist’s building ‘madness,’ as she alternates between self-doubt and engagement with the woman (sometimes women) she is able to discern in the wallpaper. The protagonist refers to the guidance of those who are taking care of her, guidance she originally obliges but comes over time to question, then confront. Before long, you can’t help but join in her mounting irritation with the way they dismiss and minimize her distress and coddling her into ‘recovery.’ Over the course of the story, Gilman’s character builds the capacity (in a kind of defiant, madness) to dismiss these ‘caretakers’ who pity her condition (again, gaslighting). She finds an intimacy with her direct experience, learning to trust what she is seeing, feeling, discovering in a conscious awakening to a self-authorized reality of her own.
A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life. – Virginia Woolf
Gilman’s story culminates with the protagonist successfully stripping the wallpaper off the walls setting free, to her great satisfaction, the woman she sees caught there. When her husband opens the door in the final passage, he finds his wife proclaiming in delight: “I got out at last, I got out at last!” Said husband then faints and we are left with the image of a woman crawling in circles around him in the room, ‘mad’ and elated. We are also left with a disturbing but strangely intoxicating paradox about the relationship between a woman’s madness and her liberation. Continue reading “PART TWO: The Inward Turn – Exploring the Soul of Citizenship In The Trump Era (1 of 5)”
November 9, 2016 – USA. Over the last half-century, a number of stark memories have been seared into America’s psyche so shocking or painful or unexpected that they live largely unmetabolized as an image, a recollection, as something we point to, instead, saying to one another, “And where were you when that happened?” To be sure, while shared by many Americans, these events have taken on different meaning depending on the who, what and where of each citizen and include the day Martin Luther King was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, the endless newsreels of President Kennedy and Jackie O. in that slowly driving motorcade, and more recently, the image of two planes flying into twin towers and the slow, heart-wrenching, knee-buckling collapse of those towers into clouds of billowing dust.
These memories, shared by Americans, but particular in their details to each citizen, are joined now by the day Donald Trump was elected.
My husband and I were at the theatre. The play was about Haitian immigrants in America, a powerful and touching story about racism and its overcoming. In spite of the standard request to turn off our cellphones during the performance, the news flickered on screens through the audience and landed somewhere after intermission half way through the second act. The actors surely knew, I thought. Someone must have told them as they exited the stage. It was a surreal moment – this news, un-imaginable, landing in our seats and on the stage while actors, devoted to their craft, performed their lines, following cues while something inside them was surely collapsing. The show must go on, I kept thinking to myself, along with the spirit of the arts and our desire to digest, give human meaning, and resurrect love in the face of the history’s horrors. But the memory I have of the morning after is the one that stands out more fully, perhaps because it took that long for the reality to have even the first opportunity to sink in.
I sat on the leather couch in our living room, staring at the television with the sound on mute. My children had just left for school, boisterous and blissfully naïve about the bomb that just detonated in America’s constitutional soul. I stared at the talking heads on CNN, my awareness focused inward.
Something important is happening in our world that you will not read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time, and it is one of the reasons I am so glad to be alive today. It has to do with our notion of the self. – Joanna Macey
Like others, I was still in shock but settled between the various pesto smudged stains and illicit pen marks on our family room couch, I could sense, next to my disbelief, something else hovering in my awareness. It seemed like inside the hollow silence created by this news some part of me was assessing the size of the test we were about to be put to, one that carried the potential to either break us as a nation or to birth something new – in me and in Americans. Whatever birth might be possible, however, was going to depend on a pending breaking point, but I had no idea what that meant, what the timing would be, or what it would look like. Accompanying this intuition was also the haunting sense that everything in my life had somehow prepared me for this moment. Continue reading “PART ONE: One Woman, Post-Trump Stress Disorder & the Whole Catastrophe – The Political Just Got a Whole Lot More Personal”
At what point do these white men of patriarchy speak up to challenge The Father?
When do these men know it is time? Or, was it taken out of them? Were they taught, at the receiving end of a switch, that their lives depended on strict obedience? (As if it did not depend on the women who gave birth to them.)
Will they walk behind The Father, blindly, with military protocol — their own free will — sacrificed for ‘duty’ and ‘loyalty’? Will they choose to stand in the shadow of the man who has “the balls the size of watermelons,” for fear of being the one one who has “raisins”? Will they continue mistaking political and economic rank for ‘God,’ forgetting that vulnerability is the only real foundation of faith? How long will they mistakenly assume their dependence is on The Father and not All-Life-On-Earth? How long will they continue to walk the line behind him, their terror well disguised in principles of righteousness and claims to ‘Know. Unequivocally. What. Every. American. Family. Needs. Or. Should. Continue reading “Some Words for the Senate GOP’s White, Male Patriarchs: We’re sorry; it’s time to step down.”
Using the word ‘feminine’ in the title of my blog has not come easily. In fact, in the way the word is generally used, even hearing myself say it still makes me cringe. I remind myself this is a reclamation, a rising up of the real deal from a barren, dry landscape of forgetting.
In fact, it took a journey into darkness, a journey that turned my understanding of life upside-down, in order to re-discover the word ‘feminine’ and its significance in our times. This journey is about how a pissed off, white woman found her humanity and a profound sense of purpose in the heart of shitty, crazy times in our country. The story of that journey, and the dots I have connected subsequently are chronicled in a series of essays (some complete, some pending) about the inner work of citizenship, about post-patriarchal values, relationships, and an emerging, devotional love of our World.
We are not just a skin-encapsulated ego, a soul encased in flesh. We are each other and we are the world.
― Charles Eisenstein
The first essay shares an account of how Donald Trump had everything and nothing to do with all this – how he perfectly, though inadvertently, catalyzed in my mind and heart a whole new frontier for Citizenship.
But, first, something more about that troublesome word feminine… Continue reading “ESSAY SERIES INTRODUCTION: The Feminine (R)evolution”