I have written this article to inform, inspire and invigorate women everywhere (and hopefully some of the hipper men. As a lifelong supporter of women’s rights I am excited in all the ways that young women have leapfrogged young men in school, work, and the social sphere. Men now need women more than women need men. As a man I understand and appreciate that there are things that we can do better than women. However, our future depends on re-balancing the male-dominated drive with women’s harmonious approach to life. As always I have included some prime selected pix and quotes that I collected from across the Internet. Hope you like the pix since all were embellished with PhotoShop.
I am writing this for a number of reasons. First, I want to pay tribute to my own mother, ex-wife, daughter and others whom I have met that are each liberated and balanced women. Second, I dedicate this to my muse – Janis Joplin – as should be clear from my other post. Finally, I want to assure you that I am not opposing Hillary Clinton because she is a women. In fact, I wish that Oprah was running for president or that Barack will pick her as vice-president. Do wonder why she hasn’t come to North Carolina or at least Virginia for one of her pep rallies.
WHY WOMEN AND MEN COMPETE AND HOW TO RESTORE BALANCE
I just read a great book called “Rebalancing the World: Why Women and Men Compete and How to Restore the Ancient Equilibrium.” Written by Carol Lee Flinders who was raised in the Pacific Northwest, attended Stanford University and received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Here I will summarize the main points of her book. Then will abstract some key comments she made during an interview with “What is Enlightenment?”
The “gender wars” of the past thirty years, Carol Lee Flinders argues, have not really been about gender after all, but values: two sets of values, so radically different from one another that they would seem to be mutually exclusive. Before we can get to the bottom of this conflict, she believes, we must re-visit and question the “master narrative” of human history that most of us absorbed in school. The full meaning of our pre-agricultural past, for example, has never been given the weight it deserves. It is time we picked up the marker that conventionally separates history from prehistory and moved it way, way back.
Throughout the eons that preceded the agricultural revolution, Flinders notes, our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. Certain values are intrinsic to that way of life wherever it is lived. Self-restraint, generosity, mutuality, balance, and a warmly reverent connection to the earth and other creatures are all adaptive to a nomadic, foraging existence. They are the values of Belonging, and they defined the human condition for so long they exist still – in longing, in faint memory — as an indestructible stratum in consciousness itself.
With the rise of agriculture and city-states, beginning just ten thousand years ago, a new set of values became adaptive: irreverence, willingness to exploit the natural world for profit; acquisitiveness, aggression, and competitiveness. The values of Enterprise . Given world enough and time, our ancestors might have managed to integrate those two sets of values, and build institutions that reflected that integration. But things were moving swiftly, and they did not, and the full cost of that failure is upon us today.
The values of Belonging are no more inherently feminine than the values of Enterprise are innately masculine, but for a variety of reasons, things played out as if they were. Women were by some wordless arrangement assigned to sustain the values of Belonging. Men would live out the values of Enterprise and build a civilization that was pre-eminently a culture of Enterprise : Separate gender spheres, and a horror of contact. The Agricultural Revolution turned women into a permanent underclass.
The “Values of Belonging” include
- Affinity for alternative modes of knowing
- Nonviolent conflict resolution
- Openness to Spirit
- Living fully in the present moment.
She contrasts these values with the “Values of Enterprise” which are the ones that men have pursued and been rewarded for:
- Control over animals
- Ownership of land
- Businesslike sobriety
Most of us are aware that the Values of Belonging are still present today in some form and are individually espoused by environmentalists, human rights advocates, feminists, artists, and educators. Flinders believes that these values were “handed off” by the emerging culture of enterprise to two distinct groups, women and the clergy, and that it is through the family and certain religious institutions that these values of belonging have been preserved. Her answer to the question of what the world needs now is a “rebalancing” of the two groups of values, combining the values of belonging and the values of enterprise.
Something that feels very much like a women’s movement is gathering momentum (circle on circle, closing in on a million!), and while it’s aligned with movements of the past, it has its own character. Its vision is wider: its outlook is consistently global. Its proponents want their life choices to enhance the lives of women everywhere, and they are convinced that a world that is safe and welcoming for women is safe and welcoming for everyone else as well. These women are alert to the connections between women’s issues and environmental issues. They see a special role for women in peace work. Their work is grounded in spiritual practices and informed by spiritual perspectives.
She believes that the relationship between feminism and spirituality is so layered and complex that it is best approached from several angles: from one’s own life experience as well as that of women mystics, spiritual activists, and men because spiritual feminism doesn’t stop with women. It asks, rather, how we all might move together into radiant wholeness. If women are to bring forth a new political paradigm, built on inclusiveness, mutuality, and reverence for nature, their inner work must be as sustained and systematic as their analysis and their activism.
INTERVIEW WITH CAROL LEE FLINDERS IN “WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT”
What is required of us now isn’t just simply to turn back and strip away everything we did for 10,000 years, but to recognize that in the speed with which all of that change took place, we lost our balance as human beings and in our communities, and we’re feeling that now very intensely in the sense of kind of dislocation and confusion, and longing for simplicity and longing for connection. So the challenge now to the very complex entities we’ve become is to figure out how to reintegrate what we lost into what we are now. You almost wish you could just blow a whistle and everything stops right now. No more anything. We need to just have something like a world summit in every living room, and at least for a year or two just start reclaiming what we’ve lost. I think an awful lot of what looks like gender war and so forth would fall away.
There is a deep interdependence. There is a sense of leisure, a sense that there is time to play, because play is terribly important in shoring up those connections that allow you all to survive in a relatively threatening environment. There is a kind of resilience that comes of knowing the natural world so deeply. You know its resources. You know how it can take care of you and you take care of it. You have that sense of reverence for the natural world and desire not to do anything to harm it. So there is a certain kind of restraint in your life.
Then we move to 10,000 years ago when we discovered this other relationship to the natural world—that of farming. It’s a tremendous shift in consciousness because now, instead of looking for connection with the natural world, we’re looking for ways of controlling and manipulating it. We look out across the field and instead of seeing a very complex community of plants and animals with which we live in a kind of cooperative interdependent way, we see a field that could be completely stripped and planted with one crop, barley, say. Then we can harvest the crop and we can stay there. We don’t have to be itinerant. We can stay in one place for the first time now and build a village and then a city, and this is incredibly liberating.
The possibilities are infinite. Culture happens. All kinds of things happen when you can stay in one place that can’t happen when you’re on the road and have to carry everything with you. It’s very intoxicating. We find ourselves now able to build boats, to have armies, to strategize, to explore the world. So the values that come into play at that point include competitiveness and inventiveness. You’re looking for an edge all the time. You want control over the resources. You’re competing with one another for good harbors and fertile river land. You’re looking for the main chance. There is a reason for inquisitiveness now that hasn’t been there before. So generosity kind of fades a little bit. A sense of interdependence gives way to a sense of competitiveness….
Resilience is the very essence of living creatures. The ability to suddenly organize yourself and be very aware and alert and figure out a new strategy when your environment gets threatened and things aren’t as they were. I am coming to see that, for the human being in the 21st century, our ability to come to grips with where we are as a species and start making some wise choices is paramount. I’m seeing people look and turn inward to find the resources that they need to face challenges. I’m sensing that the choice to take up prayer and meditation is one of the ultimate evolutionary adaptive strategies. “Reclaiming wholeness” – I like that term. We’re in it together and we need each other to do it. I think that is awfully interesting and awfully challenging. How can we come together and talk about things that women have talked to women about and women have talked to men about? I’m not sure men have talked to men about things.
TEN CHALLENGES OF A LIBERATED WOMAN
The mission of the EnlightenNext women is to pioneer a new stage of human culture through transforming themselves and their relationships. For culture to change, the core dynamics that define who we are and how we relate need to evolve. While women and men have become social equals by law, we are all still deeply conditioned by ancient survival patterns in which women are subordinate and compete with one another for male attention and protection.
To create a new ground of human relationship, the EnlightenNext women have been working with their spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen for twelve years to develop a field of liberated, enlightened consciousness between them that transcends the separation of egoic conditioning, individually and collectively. It is a delicate, difficult, and thrilling endeavor. The women at EnlightenNext have identified ten challenges—and the ideals they point to—facing a woman who wants to create an enlightened future.
- Holding an Evolutionary Perspective ~ She strives to live in the knowledge that the creative intelligence that gave birth to the universe is not separate from her true self. She knows that all of the ways that she is conditioned—biologically, socially, and psychologically—are not personal to her, but are part and parcel of a universal developmental process.
- Trusting in Life ~ Through letting go of her need to control over and over again, she has discovered the empty Ground of Being that lies at the depth of her self. This profound experience of liberation frees her at the deepest level. As a result, she is at ease, manifesting an undefended innocence, dignity, and independence of spirit.
- Taking Responsibility for Evolution ~ Knowing that the entire developmental process is One, she endeavors to take full responsibility for evolving her own consciousness, realizing that her development moves the leading edge forward for all womankind.
- Realizing Unity with Other Women ~ She relaxes more and more into a unity with other women as she refuses to act out of the nearly universal compulsion for women to separate from and compete with each other. She doesn’t deny that this compulsion, which has been key to women’s survival in the past, operates in her psyche, nor is she afraid or ashamed of it, but she works to keep her focus on evolving women’s relationships through trust, transparency, and a passion to create the future.
- Being Emotionally Rational ~ Despite how overwhelming any emotional experience may be, she strives for objectivity and aspires to liberate her power of choice so that she is no longer trapped by fears and desires rooted in her biological and cultural conditioning. She is developing the emotional maturity to not dis-integrate and give in to ancient survival impulses when she finds herself under pressure.
- Standing Autonomously and Not Wavering ~ Rather than gauging her responses by what she thinks others want and need, she is cultivating a radical autonomy, grounded in her longing for liberation and her passion for the evolution of consciousness. She increasingly finds manipulative game-playing distasteful, and craves being simple, straight, and clear in her relationships with others.
- Relinquishing Sexual Power ~ She is awake to how deeply identified she is with her sexual power and how instinctive it is to use it to get what she wants. Aspiring to drop this fundamental identification, she finds that sexual relationships become more straightforward and less of a priority and marker of personal success. The more she succeeds in this aspiration, the more she discovers a profound intimacy with others that is not related to sexuality at all.
- Leading by Example ~ Dropping the many masks of pretense and self-image, she strives for a rare vulnerability and authenticity that is not emotional but comes from being unafraid of the impulses and motivations that drive women. She is discovering a deep confidence that is not edged with hardness but founded in transparency and humility. She is willing to step forward and be a pioneer, and does not abuse the power that comes with leadership.
- Being Trustworthy ~ Resisting the temptation to be dishonest or inauthentic under scrutiny, she desires to act with integrity so that her word is her deed. She aspires to be consistently true to a higher purpose no matter what personal challenges she faces.
- Rejecting Victimhood ~ She recognizes that she has cocreated history with men and is not a victim of it. She seeks to take full responsibility for her own choices, past and present. Today, she stands side by side with men as an equal cocreator of an enlightened future.
WISE WORDS FROM WONDERFUL WOMEN
As I love to do have been on a web safari to find the best quotes about women. Most were actually spoken by women but two of my favorite enlightened men made it on the list (Bill Maher and Tim Leary). Leave some comments if you have other quotes that you would like to share.
- The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off. ~ Gloria Steinem
- The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. ~ Alice Walker
- Courage is like a muscle. We strengthen it with use. ~ Ruth Gordon
- A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. ~ Diane Mariechild
- Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. ~ Ella Fitzgerald
- You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose. ~ Indira Ghandi
- Women cannot complain about men anymore until they start getting better taste in them. ~ Bill Maher
- A male gynecologist is like an auto mechanic who has never owned a car. ~ Carrie Snow
- Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult. ~ Charlotte Whitton
- I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason. ~ Stanley Baldwin
- Brains are an asset, if you hide them. ~ Mae West
- Never let the hand you hold, hold you down. ~ Author Unknown
- I wish someone would have told me that, just because I’m a girl, I don’t have to get married. ~ Marlo Thomas
- The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. ~ Roseanne Barr
- Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition. ~ Timothy Leary
- You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman. ~ Jane Galvin Lewis
- One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man. ~ Marlo Thomas
- Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man. ~ Margaret Mead
- Women’s chains have been forged by men, not by anatomy. ~ Estelle R. Ramey
- Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry. ~ Gloria Steinem
- The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive. ~ Betty Friedan
- Men weren’t really the enemy – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill. ~ Betty Friedan
SEXUAL LIBERATION NEWS FROM DOWN SOUTH
Ecuador could make good sex a right for women
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Men of Ecuador, start doing jaw exercises now. A new inalienable right could be enshrined soon in Ecuador’s constitution: the pursuit of sexual happiness for women. The proposal by a member of the ruling party has created a stir in this socially conservative Andean nation, where a constitutional assembly is at work. Assembly member Maria Soledad Vela, who belongs to President Rafael Correa’s party and sits on a committee defining fundamental constitutional rights, said women have traditionally been seen as sexual objects or in a solely reproductive role in Ecuador.
On Monday, Vela said the right to sexual enjoyment means ensuring women can make free, responsible and informed decisions about their sex lives. Fellow committee members proposed separate provisions for women’s sexual and reproductive rights, an alternative Vela approved. Opposition Assembly member Leonardo Viteri accused Vela of trying to decree orgasm by law, saying it “isn’t possible.” Vela responded “I never asked for the right to orgasm, only the right to enjoyment.”
30 things every woman should have and should know by the time she’s 30
By Pamela Redmond Satran
This 1997 Glamour article has become a popular web chain letter, usually titled “Maya Angelou’s Best Poem Ever.” Glamour contributor Pamela Redmond Satran is flattered, but she wrote the list, updating it in 2005.
In May of 1997, I wrote this list. I had passed my thirtieth birthday and wanted to tell younger women about the things I really wished I’d had and known by that important milestone. I guess people agreed with what I had to say, because a few years later the list showed up in my e-mail inbox; a friend had forwarded it to me for my reading pleasure, completely unaware that I was the author. After that, every month or two someone would send it to me and I’d immediately hit “reply all” and type, “Hey, that was me! I wrote that for Glamour.” (After a while, I don’t think anyone believed me.)
The list became a phenomenon; posted on hundreds of websites, it was attributed to everyone from Jesse Jackson to Maya Angelou to Hillary Clinton. Someone even published it as an anonymously written book. As I read over these lines now, so many of them still seem worth having and knowing—whether you’re 30 or 22 or 75. Being a little older and a little wiser, I’ve plugged in a few new “shoulds.” By all means, add some of your own.
By 30, you should have:
- One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
- A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
- Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
- A purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
- A youth you’re content to move beyond.
- A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
- The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it.
- An e-mail address, a voice mailbox and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you.
- A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
- One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
- A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra.
- Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
- The belief that you deserve it.
- A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
- A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better.
By 30, you should know:
- How to fall in love without losing yourself.
- How you feel about having kids.
- How to quit a job, break up with a man and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
- When to try harder and when to walk away.
- How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
- The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town.
- How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
- How to take control of your own birthday.
- That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips or the nature of your parents.
- That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
- What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
- That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long
- Who you can trust, who you can’t and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
- Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
This is how and why they say life begins at 30.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS
I have extracted some of the key links that I found in a wonderful article called “Shelf Life Feminism 2.0” by Danielle Maestretti. Have revised slightly to improve flow. Read the whole post for more information.
After logging some serious lurk time on 40 blogs and paying shorter visits to about another 50, I found that there’s no monolithic feminist screed out there, nor any sort of united agenda. This is a huge part of feminism’s appeal online: Thousands of people are maintaining their own minifeminisms, writing about whatever they deem important. Some think that reproductive health is the day’s most crucial issue.
Others write about pop culture, or parenting, or sexual violence, or science fiction. Moving from one voice, one subject, one discussion to another, it’s clear that today’s feminism is about everything. And it’s this appeal to the mainstream, this proliferation of different perspectives and dissenting opinions that has the potential to make the f-word acceptable again. The following feminist BLOGs post short, sassy items several times a day.
Anything is fair game to be called out and riffed upon, from demolition of public housing in New Orleans to a Christmas-tree ornament with a gun-toting fetus inside. Because they’re pretty well-trafficked and provide so much content, all four sites get interesting discussions going in comment threads. Jessica Valenti, executive editor of Feministing, says she’d like to see some of the “less trendy issues,” like poverty and international concerns, get more space in the feminist blogosphere. “But what happens with us is we put that stuff up and no one comments,” she says. “You put up a blog on abortion, and people do.”
Sites like these tend to act as watchdogs for a broad range of feminist issues (or for their bloggers’ pet causes). Flip remarks and long-ago decisions are magnified and dissected, sometimes to a painful degree. Consumer products that are deemed offensive are called out, their offensiveness then confirmed by dozens of commenters. (A pair of age-inappropriate girls’ underwear from Wal-Mart recently set off a tempest on Feministing.)
It’s easy to lose hours of your life to tracking the evolution of these conversations all over the Internet. Two great places to start are:
- Feminism 101 ~ Serves as an aggregator of frequently asked questions, is a good place to go when things start to get convoluted.
- The Carnival of Feminists ~ This carnival comes to town twice a month, building networks by gathering “the finest feminist posts from around the blogosphere.”
For now, the fact that feminist blogs are not part of a unified movement works in their favor; it doesn’t feel like you’re signing on to some all-encompassing agenda or reading canned opinions. The debate may be moving quickly—in real time, or close to it—but is it moving forward? I’m not sure that it is, but maybe that’s OK. It’s about time we stretched out, settled in, and really hashed this stuff out among ourselves.