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:
1.) That patriarchally driven cultures have led to an unhealthy imbalance in every area of social, economic and political life. This imbalance denies the centrality of vulnerability and inter-dependence to the human condition and, while it has hurt women and LGBTQI+’s, it has also, importantly, hurt men.
2.) That the dominant forces of our culture are on a rapidly unraveling, destructive course for our planet, one that is increasingly inhumane and ultimately, unsustainable.
3.) That the solution to this imbalance is not to establish a ‘matriarchy’ or ‘anti-‘ movements, but the pro-active generation of social, political and cultural values that respect a balancing of the masculine and feminine principles, that value partnership over domination, mutuality over self-interest, recognizing complexity and paradox over compartmentalized, linear knowledge designed to control.
4.) The fourth premise is that a change in consciousness allowing us to reconnect with the long-diminished feminine dimensions of the human experience and of life, itself, supports this re-balancing. This shift begins when we turn towards what is missing in our lives, facing the very places we are wont to avoid, the grief, anxiety, depression, emptiness, heartbreak and longing. This turn ultimately opens the door to imagining and creating a different world.
Opening In, To Open Out, A-New
The burgeoning growth of this new worldview, I believe, is actually already well underway. The exponential rise of interest in psychotherapy, naturopathic medicine, the evolution of feminism, the non-binary, LGBTQI+ movements, a growing desire to return to the body, interest in spirituality (meditation and yoga), and a building (albeit slow) recognition, among white people, of the pain of separation forged through cultures of white privilege – all these cultural developments have one things in common: They open us to the territory of our all-t00-human vulnerability. They are also all changes we’ve come to take for granted over the last two generations as the cultural waters we swim in. However, seen together, they reflect an unprecedented shift in what is felt and seen to really matter in life. The shift is happening in the places where our culture’s “promises” and “ideals” are breaking down, where heart-ache, emptiness and meaningless have moved people, not to further avoidance, but to turning towards the pain to heal.
The body, emotions, vulnerability, entering the realms of our not-knowing, facing an uncertain future… this is all territory that has been viewed for thousands of years as inferior to the rational, patriarchal ‘masculine. That ‘patriarchal masculine’ values self-reliance and a disembodied sphere of functioning that focuses on what can be controlled, measured and claimed to be certifiably, known and quantified. However, various cultural developments in our time have included an ‘inner’ dimension where more and more people (women, LGBTQI+ and to a lesser extent men) have been digging deeper into their fears and their lived, embodied experience, facing unknown, inner territory, where, often, the negative impact of patriarchy and its legacy of domination and submission, etched in our gendered and racially conditioned souls, has increasingly been exposed. The wounds we find are often forged through traumatic encounters that make it hard to know ourselves and one another more authentically and to resolve life’s inevitable conflicts with greater maturity and wisdom. No matter who we are amidst all the different ways we are human, when we begin to face our shame more-honestly and with support, embracing the vulnerability beneath it, we find a deeper sense of our value. The fruits of this journey equip us, then, to take the risk to be different, or rather, to take the risk to, more authentically and humanly, be who we are.
[Men] are trapped and they don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel about being trapped, because the language that exists to express the full range of human emotion is still viewed as sensitive and feminine. – Michael Ian Black
Often, responding to the call to find what is missing we follow the thread and discover ourselves rising up in formerly-forbidden, strength (typically women, marginalized groups) or falling to our knees in formerly-forbidden tears (typically men). Courageously, we begin to see the connection between our personal life and our soul’s imbalanced, enculturation. We enter an evolution in our awareness that allows us to reconnect with what we love and deeply value. In short, this personal transformation, unavoidably, fosters collective implications.
Given today’s large-scale avoidances – denials about unsustainable, global commercialism, devastating impacts of climate change and the increasing colonization of consciousness through commercialized, technological addiction – the journey in each of us to reconnect – with ourselves, our bodies, the natural world and with each other in community – is indispensable to a healthier future. Often, this inner work is considered less politically significant or worthy than outer action. Outer action in these times, with a climate clock ticking, is essential. However, the fruits of the inward turn support resilience, and connecting with our all-t00-human tenderness, giving us the resources we need to forge a deeper vision for humanity’s and the planet’s future.
Our greater potential and a sustainable future will be made possible, then, through the fruits of both outer action AND an inward turn, an honest self-reckoning, which, itself, marks a step in the direction of post-patriarchy. If we don’t engage this journey, either in small or greater ways, we can be assured that what exists, will persist. Patriarchally driven divisions, tribalism, denigration and hurt, compounded by un-mitigated climate crises, will continue unabated in our social and political life. A hundred times a day, in awareness and in the steps we take to craft and live the new values we espouse, we are given a personalized, unique invitation to participate in the evolution of a new, global citizenship. In short, how we shift our priorities, one by one, to reflect what we find more deeply meaningful in life matters.
The task at hand is not simple – but it is already happening all around us. It is to truly question what we think we know as men and women and across the gender spectrum – to be willing to fall apart, to risk examining the world anew, aware of the grief we may feel and the judgments that may be leveled against us for being mad, naïve, extreme, un-manly, or just plain nuts. After all, following thousands of years of imbalance, you do not help to turn the world right-side up without the risk of feeling quite mad! (For some, in both senses of the word, crazy-mad, and angry-mad). (More on that in my essay here.)
On the other side of this on-going journey, we can open our eyes to the profound generosity of our planet and the indisputable (inter)dependency we share. When this truth becomes self-evident, we reclaim the capacity to fall in love again, with ourselves, with each other, and with the greater source of our Life.
Progressive (r)evolutions have always been born from the heart. In the vapid, emptiness of this patriarchal, late-capitalist period of ecological crisis – a time that has culminated in the era of Trump – what will we find, on the other side of our heartbreak, that is truly worth living for?
Naive or REAL Courage?
This invitation to find love again and claim the value of our all-t00-human vulnerability in a post-modern, post-60s, so-called, ‘post-truth’ world is not about being naïve. That is what the patriarchal narrative would have us believe. Far from ‘feminine’ in any lesser way, the territories of our lives that recognize love, tenderness, and vulnerability are our strength. I write about vulnerability, then, because it is our strength – because in vulnerability we are strong enough to name the inner hollowness of patriarchal masculinity, strong enough to call for men to begin the inner journey towards their deeper authenticity, (a journey, of course, women and marginalized groups have been taking for decades), strong enough to reclaim our birthright, our inherent human interdependence with one another and the source of sustenance for Life. Strong enough, then, to take a stand for a set of planetary, constitutional rights.
It is a grandiose claim, to be sure. In my writing, however, I suggest that this strength in vulnerability, as increasingly evident in so many dimensions of our culture, is a direct challenge to patriarchy from the deep and powerful feminine dimensions of human experience now rising up at this critical time on our planet to turn the course of history. To be able to say this, to see it, we need to move through the shame we experience around being more fully, more human-ly, who we are. On the other side of this shame, which manifests differently in each of us, given in our respective gendered bodies, we find we cannot help but recognize the inherent value of something so long construed as secondary, private and lesser – our all-t00-human, universal vulnerability. Seeing this, wanting to take a stand for it, is not the stance of a resistance movement. Rather, the values born from deeper places inside ourselves, are so obviously essential to living any kind of meaningful life, that they create the ground for an Insistence movement. A movement that stands for the truth of what is.
Today, the “pursuit of happiness,” then, may be directing us to face the places in our lives where we are not happy. For more and more people, it is calling for an engagement in the honorable and essential growth we need to mature as a species, to mature so we can preserve a future for human life, for life writ large, on this profoundly, beautiful earth – our home.
Some words on Authority as a (cis)Woman Writer …
At every step in creating this writing platform, I have faced patriarchal demons. They tell me regularly: Do not create, do not step forward, do not stir this deep consciousness forward, do not land in yourself and speak from this truth. They have told me to give up, that this is all new-age poppycock, that this is grandiose, self-involved, silliness. I have come to learn, however, that the place of tension where the drive to create is met by a restrictive, containing voice of control is the very seed-bed of novelty, resilience, and triumph. Each story on this blog, each poem, reflection, each essay is born from the fire, like a phoenix, that burns with love through those restraining voices and rends the veils of misperception internalized by being born in this time and place on this planet. From a dynamic, well-spring of deeper knowing, my practice is to continually, with fortitude, or perhaps even, sometimes, gently, simply say “no”. “No.”
In turn, there is a “yes” waiting in the space created, a “yes” to the re-emergence of a deeper, more mature love, grounded in what I have chosen to name a feminine wisdom. It is not a wisdom that ‘belongs to me’ because I am a woman; it is a wisdom that exists in life and that has been insufficiently tapped and respected for thousands of years.
What I write about the feminine (r)evolution is interwoven with my personal experience of discovering it – discovering the feminine in me, around me, in others. However, in the subjective voice, in drawing from this personal touchstone, I disqualify my writing, in any way, from being academic, or “authoritative,” in the traditional sense. That is perhaps the point.
I spent years in academia before I committed to a spiritual path and work as a psychotherapist. I earned four academic degrees but left the hallowed halls because my interest in learning was always driven by a search for the truth. It was hard to engage that search in institutions that privileged the rational mind over the heart and body. In academia, ideas talk back and forth to one another – good ideas often, but ideas that hive off whole areas of inquiry that extend beyond rationality. Too many religious studies programs (where one would hope questions of deeper meaning might be engaged in earnest) have become the “killing jars of spirituality”(Ken Wilber) and I would add, ironically, of the truth.
The separation of sanctified knowledge in academia, from the wisdom that comes from an inquiry into the deeper experience of the body and the heart, reflects a profound, patriarchal hubris in the mission of our great learning institutions. Reason and objectivity matter, they do, but not at the exclusion of living with openness, in the questions. Here, we can carefully harvest our subjective, embodied knowing. For this reason, parts of my own story are included in my writing. Vulnerability, the feminine elixir, is the portal to deeper truth and arises in the risks of self-exposure.
When it comes to authority, then, what I write has been guided by a different compass than intellectual inquiry alone. I invite you to find that compass inside yourself, guided by a different authority. One might say that what authorizes my words is the journey, itself, of wrestling with social conscience as it meets the mysterious territory of deep healing. It is a voice continually informed by the deeper wisdom we can find in being opening to what we don’t know.
For those who take this journey on as I have, in earnest, the fruits that ripen over time are there for the taking: The emergence of a more authentic voice that lives in one’s heart, body and mind and that gets recreated, daily, through ever-unfolding discoveries. It is a voice, in short, that you can authorize, yourself.
Birth of a Blog
Shortly after Trump’s election, I began sharing reflections on Facebook in an earnest attempt to make sense of an unraveling America and an increasingly unhinged and upside-down world. These posts included thoughts about men, the men who had elected Donald Trump, and other men – all of them – the men we will need to effectively change the world in all the ways so sorely needed right now. The posts also included essays and poems speaking to my own struggles and transformations turning towards the anxiety, anger, and grief I experienced as a woman and citizen during these Trump years.
As anyone with a devoted practice of journaling knows, words can chronicle our experiences retroactively, but they can also help us open, discover and unfold. Writing has been my ally through these past three years, insistently urging me to record my experience because what we are going through now as women and citizens of all backgrounds and genders matters. Many of us are struggling with the stories coming out of D.C. and Wall Street, but if we hope to forge different stories moving forward, it will be because as the old one falls apart, and we fall apart watching it, we rise up on the other side to write something new, from the inside out.
Over the last two years of posting on Facebook, and also on Medium.com, various friends have encouraged me to collect my writing in one place. To those who valued my voice and reached out to say so, thank you! Truly. I wrote without much expectation that people would respond but because I felt I had to. That you responded is an added gift. So, here it is, nine months later. (Yes, that’s not lost on me!)
I’ve chosen to take this blog live on Indigenous People’s Day. Somewhere between 1937, when Columbus Day became a US holiday, and 1996, the first year a US state revised the name to Indigenous People’s Day, a post-patriarchal revolution has been unfolding. This renaming reflects a shift in consciousness from a history valuing colonization, domination, and consumption to one that hopes to honor the original cultures on this continent and their more attuned relationship to nature and a balance of masculine and feminine principles. My writing is born in the tension and creativity between these two cultures, the territory between the values of a patriarchal past that are no longer serving us and the values of a future we are being pressed to forge on a planetary home demanding our attention and respect.
The challenges we are facing in these times are, in my view no accident. Our anxiety, stress, restlessness, and loneliness are a calling from our disquieted all-too-human souls to birth something new. This pain that precedes new life is a truth deeply imprinted on all our bodies (and our mother’s) at birth, but, as with all births, there’s also excitement and potential in our midst. When, individually and collectively, we trust the journey we are being invited to take – following our wounds and misgivings to their depths – we’re able to reconnect with ourselves, others and nature with newfound meaning and purpose.
When you join me on this blog, you join in the chorus I have joined. We sing the song we can’t help ourselves from singing when we reconnect with the precious, inter-being of Life on this stunningly beautiful Earth. It is a song … that is already singing us.